“Extraordinary.” “Exceptional.” Even “miraculous.”
These are words Brooklyn Center City Manager Curt Boganey said were used to describe the results of the 2012 Community Survey to collect residents’ feedback on topics such as crime, parks and property taxes.
The first survey was completed in 2008 by Minneapolis-based market and research firm Decision Resources Ltd. and a follow up concluded in December 2012, according to Boganey. He presented information about the “state of the city,” along with some of the survey results, to the Brooklyn Center Business Association last week.
William Morris, the president and founder of Decision Resources, said Brooklyn Center’s results generated some of the most favorable ratings on parks, the use of property tax dollars and the city’s reduction in crime during the last year compared to surveys in other metro area communities.
Results of the survey were developed after interviews with a random sample of 400 people in the community who agreed to participate, Morris said.
Decision Resources employed bilingual people to contact residents and help reduce the likelihood they would refuse to participate because of a language barrier, he said.
Morris presented the results to the Brooklyn Center City Council in February.
Compared to 2008, the rating of residents’ quality of life as excellent or good increased from 65 percent to 85 percent, he said. A fair or poor quality of life rating decreased to from 36 percent in 2008 to 14 percent in 2012.
“This quality of life result sets the pace for the rest of the questionnaire,” Morris said.
Survey participants were also asked to respond about what they like most about the city. About 40 percent said they like the location of Brooklyn Center compared to 29 percent in 2008.
“They live close to everything they value by living in Brooklyn Center,” he said.
Residents also said they like the strong neighborhoods and quality housing – 19 percent compared to 7 percent in 2008 – and 10 percent responded they like the sense of community in Brooklyn Center.
“The main things that people are talking about are the location of where they are in the metropolitan area,” Morris said.
Some ‘serious’ issues, concerns
Crime remains the most serious issue on residents’ minds, but the percentage who thought so declined from 40 to 32 percent this year.
“(It’s) still on the high side compared to other communities, but still a sign it is declining,” Morris explained.
Between 6 to 8 percent of residents responded that high taxes, losing businesses in the community and home foreclosures are concerning issues, he said.
Violent crime remains a top concern for residents within the public safety category, but more people said they are concerned about property crimes such as burglary, according to the survey.
Violent crime in Brooklyn Center declined by 11 percent last year, Boganey said. There was also a substantial reduction in youth-related violent crime, he said. The Brooklyn Center Police Department has a street crimes unit and is also focusing on domestic violence prevention more in 2013, Boganey said.
The police department is finalizing a report on the crime statistics from 2012 and goals for 2013.
According to Morris, residents’ responses about crime show the strong influence it has on their quality of life in Brooklyn Center.
“Violent crime moving downward is the thing that has most impacted people’s perceptions of the community, the safety of the community and the overall quality of life,” he said.
The right direction
Overall, another indicator of the quality of life in Brooklyn Center is a “surprising” response that 83 percent of the people surveyed said they feel the city is going in the right direction, Morris said.
In 2008, the responses were split 46 to 47 percent between the city having the right or wrong direction overall.
“You have a commanding majority now who feel things are the way they should be,” Morris said.
The redevelopment of Brookdale Mall into Shingle Creek Crossing has also improved Brooklyn Center’s numbers.
A Wal-Mart opened at the development, near Highway 100 and Bass Lake Road, in September 2012 and a LA Fitness is under construction as well as several multi-tenant retail buildings.
Sixty-eight percent of residents in the survey said development in Brooklyn Center is excellent or good, compared to 23 percent in 2008, according to Morris.
With that, people said they would like more entertainment options (47 percent) and dining (44 percent) in Brooklyn Center, he said.
The city could deal with less affordable multi-housing complexes and have more retail, according to the survey.
“People have now moved over to a concern about the kind of amenities that are being offered in the city,” Morris said.
Residents, as indicated in the survey, are also more trusting of the city’s work with the growing diverse population in Brooklyn Center.
In 2008, 63 percent said the city was prepared to work with all of its residents and now the number increased to 82 percent, Morris said.
“People feel the city has been preparing well for the positive changes,” he said.
Engaging members of the diverse population in Brooklyn Center is one of the key opportunities and challenges in Brooklyn Center during the next five years, according to Boganey.
There is currently a study underway about Brooklyn Center City Hall, including its accessibility to customers and how to make it more welcoming for residents to come there, he said.
“… Engaging the broader sector of the community, including more of the diverse segments of the community in public life and private life in the community, and increasing the value that we place on having such a unique and diverse community … I think that’s both the opportunity and the challenge over the next five years,” Boganey said.
As challenges may come up in the future, Morris explained that the favorable responses from residents in the survey will help.
“People not only like what’s been going on during the last four years, they like what is going on now and they have a high regard for optimism in the future,” Morris said. “That will serve the community exceptionally in the years ahead as other kinds of issues are approached.”
Contact Katy Zillmer at [email protected]
Click to view the Decision Resources Survey