Municipal survey supports street improvements and creation of community center

GALESBURG — The city of Galesburg is a good place to live but a bad place to open a business, has an efficient fire department but the condition of the city’s streets needs better maintenance.

These are some of the key findings from a community survey the City of Galesburg collected from residents in August. It was the first such community survey ever conducted by the city, and the Galesburg City Council reviewed the survey results during a Monday night business session.

Conducted by the ETC Institute, the survey was designed to gather feedback from residents to help city staff set priorities, gauge resident satisfaction with city service delivery and to understand “where the city is and have the ability to track the performance of the city against itself and against other communities over time.

Esther Campbell, project manager of the ETC Institute, said the study collected 433 completed surveys, but said the survey results should represent the whole perspective of the population of around 30,000 residents of Galesburg with 95% confidence due to the survey’s proportional distribution of race, age, gender, income, and location of survey respondents.

The quality of the city streets is the top priority

The survey ranked the “quality of the city’s streets” as the city’s number one priority, with 71% of respondents saying the city’s service needs the most improvement.

Only 21% of Galesburg residents said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the quality of the city’s streets, and only 6% said they were “very satisfied” with the condition of the city’s sidewalks. By comparison, the ETC Institute reports that 41% of people in the United States and 36% of people in the Plains region are satisfied with their city’s streets.

Residents, mostly on the south side of Galesburg — in wards two, three, four and six — were on average dissatisfied with their city’s streets.

City staff said it’s possible residents’ satisfaction with streets in Galesburg will improve once work currently underway on Monmouth Boulevard is complete and once Grand Avenue is resurfaced. by the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2025.

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Students from the city's Youth Commission held tours for the public during an open house at Churchill Junior High School on Thursday, April 28, 2022. The building is being considered as a possible location for a community center.

Majority of residents want a community center

The survey revealed that 62% of residents think the city should construct or renovate a building for the purpose of a community or activity center. The survey also revealed that 33% of residents closely followed the city’s efforts to develop a community center, 54% followed the efforts “a little” and 14% not at all.

In terms of what should be done inside this community center, residents rated programming for seniors, teens, and a “one-stop” location for social/support services should receive the most of attention inside a city community center.

A daycare center for children, a permanent warming center and specialized classes for people of all ages closely followed these three categories of programming to be prioritized within a community centre.

In general, residents ranked the city’s youth and seniors programs as the two most important parks and recreation services in the city that should be emphasized over the next two years.

Bunker Links Golf Course and Lake Storey Lodge were the two parks and recreation departments that residents said the fewest needed to be enhanced over the next two years.

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Public Safety Services Rated Above National Standard

Haley Stevenson of Galesburg poses for a photo on her first day on the job as a Galesburg firefighter Monday, May 2, 2022 at the Central Fire Station.  Stevenson was sworn in earlier Monday as the first female firefighter in department history.

Residents rated their satisfaction with five of the city’s public safety departments so high that the ETC Institute said satisfaction was above regional or national benchmarks.

The five services were the quality of the fire service, the speed with which the fire service responds, the effectiveness of fire prevention programs, the speed with which the police respond to emergencies and the visibility of the police in the neighborhoods.

The most significant difference was in the effectiveness of fire prevention/safety programs, with 76% of residents being satisfied with municipal service. By comparison, the ETC Institute reports that only 51% of US residents and 44% of Plains region residents say they are satisfied with the effectiveness of their city’s fire prevention programs.

That being said, two-thirds of residents think the city’s crime prevention efforts should receive the most attention over the next two years.

Residents satisfied with city staff, other benchmarks

The survey found that the majority of residents are happy with the way they are treated by city employees, with 66% agreeing that when they interact with the city, they get the information they need and are treated with respect. Residents rated the quality of customer service from city employees 29% higher than the national average.

In other benchmarks, 67% of residents said they were satisfied with Galesburg as a place to live – a score 17% higher than the national and regional average. Residents also said they were happy with Galesburg as a place to raise a family and retire.

However, only 29% of residents say they are satisfied with the city as a place to open a business. Residents also said they were unhappy with the value received for Galesburg’s taxes and fees and the appearance of the town.

Residents support stricter enforcement of property codes

Along with city streets, residents were also highly concerned about property code enforcement, with 32% of residents surveyed believing that enforcement was the city service that needed the most improvement.

Of those surveyed, 71% agreed that property maintenance codes should be more strictly enforced in Galesburg. Resident satisfaction with enforcement of residential property maintenance, lawn mowing/cutting, and litter/debris cleanup was 25%, 21%, and 21% lower, respectively, than the regional and national average for these municipal services.

Residents of Wards Two and Three were, on average, dissatisfied with cleaning up litter and debris on private properties, and with mowing and trimming lawns on private properties. Residents of wards two, three, four and seven were dissatisfied with the residential property maintenance enforcement.

Jill E. Washington