Williamsburg conducting biennial quality-of-life survey

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Williamsburg residents — well, at least a randomly selected few — will have the chance to weigh in on the city’s biennial citizen survey in the coming weeks.

The National Citizen Survey, which is run by the National Research Center and the International City/County Management Association, is being mailed to a random sample of about 1,200 Williamsburg residents over a six-week period in May and June.

The Williamsburg Farmers Market, one of three regular markets throughout the Historic Triangle (Photo courtesy of the Williamsburg Farmers Market)
The Williamsburg Farmers Market, one of three regular markets throughout the Historic Triangle. (Photo courtesy of the Williamsburg Farmers Market)

The survey focuses on topics such as quality of life, public safety, environmental sustainability, recreation and wellness, community inclusiveness, civic engagement and public trust. It has been administered on a biennial basis in Williamsburg since 2008.

“The survey has had a few question changes, but a lot of the base questions have remained the same, so we’re able to track what issues have remained important,” said Marvin Collins, Williamsburg’s city manager. “Since this is a survey that’s taken by approximately 300 communities around the country, we’re also able to benchmark our citizen response.”

The most recent survey, administered in 2014, revealed that most residents are satisfied with the overall quality of life in Williamsburg. More than 80 percent of respondents identified the city as either a “good” or “excellent” place to live. In particular, respondents indicated they highly value the level of safety and mobility they enjoy in Williamsburg.

“I think one thing that stands out to me is that Williamsburg consistently tracks high as a great place to live,” Collins said.

In addition to focusing on specific quality-of-life issues, the National Citizen Survey addresses how connected Williamsburg residents feel to their community, their government officials and each other.

In 2014, 76 percent of survey respondents said they planned to remain in Williamsburg, and 83 percent said they would recommend living in the city.

Additionally, 62 percent of respondents indicated they have confidence in city government — a figure that aligns closely with the national benchmark as established by National Citizen Survey results from other communities.

Collins is pleased with how Williamsburg compares with the benchmark set by other communities across the board, noting that he believes Williamsburg scored as well as or better than the national average in almost every category.

City officials will pay close attention to the outcome of the 2016 survey to identify areas in need of attention in the city’s upcoming Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes (GIO) report, Collins said. The survey results “are used in our GIO process extensively,” he said.

This year’s GIO report will be presented in September.

Surveys will be mailed out throughout the rest of May and into June. Recipients are urged to complete them promptly and return them in the postage paid envelop provided.

“We encourage citizens that receive [the survey] to take the time to respond, and we genuinely appreciate their feedback,” Collins said. “We look forward to the responses again this year and to seeing how we can improve on that consistent performance we’ve always had.”