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Kennesaw Residents Give City High Marks, but say traffic improvements are needed
Jon Gargis MDJ 8/14/16
Kennesaw survey results:
Kennesaw residents gave their own city high marks in many areas in a recent survey sent out this spring, but nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said improving traffic conditions should be one of the city’s highest priorities.
Just over 400 Kennesaw residents responded to the six-page survey, sent to random households throughout the city of more than 33,500, according to the most recent Census data. The survey was conducted on behalf of the city by ETC Institute, a Kansas-based market research firm, at a cost of about $15,000, said Pam Davis, city spokeswoman.
The survey asked respondents to rate their satisfaction with the city and many of its services, from public safety to maintenance, city communications to parks and recreation, with many of the areas measured on a five-point scale — 5 being “excellent” and 4 “good,” with 3 being “neutral.” Negative ratings were noted by a “below average” 2 or “poor” 1.
Of those who gave opinions on their feeling of safety in Kennesaw, 88 percent gave the city positive marks of “excellent” or “good” — 12 percent points higher than the national average of 76 percent. The city got similar marks on the overall quality of life in the city, with 86 percent of opinions positive.
“I think the community believes the city’s in the right direction and we’re making progress. That’s what it says to me,” said Mayor Derek Easterling of the results, which were presented to the City Council at its Aug. 1 meeting.
Easterling said he believed the positive marks in those areas could be attributed to the level of customer service provided by city operations when residents call or come in with concerns or issues.
“But I also think it’s our police department engaging the community, the community recognizing that our police are there, they make their zone patrols or they’re in their neighborhood — they live in the neighborhood,” Easterling added. “To me, that speaks volumes — when you recognize your officers when they’re not in uniform, when they live in your community, that makes you feel good.”
While most surveyed residents felt their city was safe, one organization’s data released earlier this year seemingly supports respondents’ beliefs. This past March, Kennesaw placed sixth on the list of safest cities in Georgia from backgroundchecks.org, a public safety focused organization. Kennesaw, along with second-ranked Acworth, were the only two Cobb cities to make the top 10, though placing in the top 50 were Smyrna (26) and Powder Springs (46).
The survey also saw respondents give a 90 percent favorable rating to the city’s parks and recreation facilities and programs, an 83 percent positive response to police services and a 71 percent favorable rating regarding maintenance of city streets.
But it was what happens on those streets that earned the city’s lowest marks. Just 45 percent gave positive marks in the area of management of traffic flow and congestion, with 31 percent giving dissatisfied responses. Just under a quarter of the opinions were neutral.
Easterling said traffic is an ongoing issue in the city.
“My offhanded comment when we had the presentation was, ‘Welcome to metro Atlanta,’” he said. “I don’t blame them for rating it low, I don’t like sitting in traffic, but we have to put up with a few things while everything’s under construction.”
The mayor said current road projects underway in the city include repaving on Cherokee Street and examining traffic flow off Rutledge Road.
“We’re trying to wrap our hands around it and trying to make it better,” he said. “I think something as simple as timing of lights, we’re working on it.”
The survey was a first for the city, Davis said, adding that the goal was to provide scientifically valid data that would be a more effective basis for officials’ planning than opinions or conjecture.
“We wanted to find out what our constituency actually thought about the quality and level of city services being provided and what they felt was most important to them,” Davis said. “The objective of the survey is to help in the planning process so it isn’t intended to produce immediate actions. But we were pleased that the results validated our hard work and effort in every category.”
The complete survey results can be downloaded from the city’s website, kennesaw-ga.gov.