To boost ‘3.5-star’ score, city will focus on transportation, growth

City rating has stayed the same since 2017, survey shows

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/14/20

Since 2017, Arvada has worked to boost its 3.5-star city rating, calculated by Northwest Research Group (NRG) using responses from the city’s Community Survey. But with 2019 survey results …

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To boost ‘3.5-star’ score, city will focus on transportation, growth

City rating has stayed the same since 2017, survey shows

Posted

Since 2017, Arvada has worked to boost its 3.5-star city rating, calculated by Northwest Research Group (NRG) using responses from the city’s Community Survey. But with 2019 survey results suggesting community perceptions have remained stagnant these past two years, the city may look at refocusing its resources.

Administered to some residents every other year since 1997, the Arvada Community Survey asks for input on 31 questions related to city performance, including growth, transportation, safety and more.

Through the survey, the research group calculates a city’s rating on a scale from one to five stars, based on cities from across the county, said Nathan Wiggin, NRG project director.

In 2017, Arvada had a 4-star rating; however, after the research group changed its formula, the city’s 2017 results shifted to a 3.5-star rating, Wiggin said.

“It’s not a downgrade in any way, shape or form; it’s just a change in how the model works,” he said at the city council’s Jan. 6 meeting.

The city again earned a 3.5-star rating in 2019.

With a goal of increasing the rating to 4.5 stars by 2023, city communications manager Ben Irwin and innovation and performance manager Kelly Hartman proposed focusing on aspects that correlate directly to overall rating.

For example, if those who give the city low scores on transportation also consistently give the city a low overall score, the city should focus on transportation, they said.

“We want to compare” to other cities, Hartman said, like nearby Castle Rock, located south of Denver, which has a 5-star rating.

The team suggested the city allocate more resources to key areas including traffic, business and growth.

Traffic

Within the topic of transportation, “we really need to look at signal timing and level of congestion,” as those two topics have become of bigger concern to residents since 2017, Hartman said.

Citywide, residents gave the city an average of 5.29 out of 10 for traffic signal timing, and a 4.83 for congestion. On average, District 4 residents gave the lowest scores for each of the categories.

Councilmembers David Jones and Bob Fifer pointed out the city is not responsible for the maintenance of all roads within its limits. State highways, for instance, are owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The councilmembers suggested working with the state and county to address these areas.

Business

Another area to focus on is creating a competitive business environment, the team said.

Newer and younger residents tended to give the city higher scores on its ability to attract businesses that are a good fit for the community, the data showed.

District 4 residents gave the lowest scores, with 51% saying the city’s business environment exceeds expectations, as compared to 71% citywide.

Mayor Marc Williams said he believed the city’s ongoing work to bring businesses to District 4 would change that trend over time.

“We had a ribbon cutting tonight in northwest Arvada,” he said. “We continue to have those, so I’m thinking those ratings are going to get better for District 4.”

Growth

The team also suggested the city discuss its approach to planning for growth, with residents more split than ever on whether growth is benefitting or hurting the community.

In one question, 44% of residents said growth has impacted their quality of life in a positive way, while 40% said it has impacted them in a negative way, Irwin said.

The survey found that residents who have lived in the city five years or less have the most favorable view of growth.

“A lot of (the data) has to do with what we’re sharing with the community,” Irwin said, with the city planning to increase communication about projects.

Next steps

The city aims to organize the information into a final report, which will be available to city leaders and community members in February, he said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Pro Tem Dot Miller questioned whether the city needs to change its approach to increasing its rating.

In 2018 and 2019, “we were intentionally making initiatives and we didn’t move the needle,” she said.

City manager Mark Deven suggested that many of those initiatives will boost the rating, but need more time before having an impact.

As for new initiatives, staff said most of them should focus on the key areas.

“Those are the areas that are important to our citizens, but our citizens aren’t really satisfied with what is being provided,” Hartman said. “It’s imperative for us to take this information and do something with it.”

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