Swimming Pool, Rodents: Survey Shines Light on Public Opinions
A citizen survey reveals Royal Oak residents' top priorities.
And the survey says: 95 percent of residents are satisfied or very satisfied with Royal Oak as a place to live.
In a public opinion survey conducted in the late summer/early fall, residents say they are happy with the city and services provided by local government - but some would also like an indoor swimming pool and less rats.
Spearheaded by the city manager’s office, a survey taking approximately six weeks to complete was conducted by Oakland University's Public Affairs Research Laboratory (PARL). Sent out to 800 randomly selected Royal Oak residences from voter registration rolls in mid-August, the results of the survey show Royal Oak residents are very pleased with the quality of life in the city and the services/amenities provided to residents.
While PARL was disappointed with a 34 percent response rate – the lowest rate it ever obtained in more than two decades administering surveys - the results were encouraging to city leaders. The results, which show citizens’ satisfaction of Royal Oak as a community, will be useful to define how the city can work to brand itself and improve results for the future.
"The main purpose of any survey project is to engage your residents. It's about good government. It's about speaking to the people you represent and seeing what's on their minds," said Dr. Pat Piskulich, director of the Public Affairs Research Laboratory.
A survey is a two-way street, Piskulich said. It tells citizens what city leaders are thinking about and elicits responses.
The Public Opinion Survey report is available for review in its entirety as a PDF document attached to this story.
The following are some statistical highlights of the survey.
Police, Fire and EMS Service
With approximately one in five residents reporting to have dialed 911 during the past year, satisfaction with the city’s dispatch system is quite high (88 percent), according to the report.
Of the Royal Oak Police department, 78 percent of those surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied. The majority say the department is respectful, friendly, helpful and professional.
Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied with the Royal Oak Fire Department and 71 percent with EMS.
A strong majority of respondents (72 percent) are willing to call major streets in the city good or excellent, according to the report. However, when asked to rate the streets in their neighborhoods the figure dropped to 56 percent.
Residents approved the city’s handling of snow and ice removal (71 percent) and 73 percent say traffic is not a problem for the city.
Parks & Recreation
During the past year the majority of those surveyed say they used a city park or recreational facility or attended a city-sponsored community event.
When asked what three additional indoor recreation facilities are most needed in the city, a swimming pool (47 percent), fitness center (40 percent) and walking/running track (38 percent) are the top requests. Outdoor recreation facilities residents say they want include bicycle/non-motorized paths (38 percent), jogging/exercise trail (36 percent) and swimming pool (33 percent).
Rodents, declining city revenues and crime topped the list of the most serious problems facing the city, while police/crime control, fire prevention/suppression and ambulance service were the services residents say should be the top priorities of city officials.
Branding & downtown
The things that bring people to downtown Royal Oak, according to the survey, are restaurants (70 percent), walkability (38 percent), special events (26 percent) and entertainment (25 percent).
When describing Royal Oak, residents use words such as safe, diverse, fun, vibrant, trendy and neighborhoods.
How accurate is the survey?
Due to the low response rate, which PARL suspects may have been caused by “a long and heated campaign season in a presidential election year,” the margin of error is plus or minus 6 percent, according to the report.
As a yardstick, the report predicted the city’s public safety millage would pass by a 71-29 percent margin; the actual result was 67-33 percent, within the expected parameters, the report said.
What do you think of the survey's results? Do the respondents have the same priorities as you?