In the next two years, New Braunfelsers want the city to focus on mobility, the economy and safety — and applaud local efforts to expand shopping and recreation, according to the results of the 2019 National Citizens Survey reported to city staff last week.
Presented to the city council last Monday, the results of the 2019 National Citizens Survey — the fourth NCS deployed in the city of New Braunfels since 2012 — revealed residents are generally pleased with travel in the community, but do see areas for improvement; feel the economy should be a focus of the city; and residents enjoy their recreational opportunities.
Of the 3,000 surveys dispatched to New Braunfelsers, 636 were returned at a 24% response rate with a 4% margin of error.
“We compare to these 600 communities in our database whenever possible,” said Morgan Adams, the research associate with the National Research Center who presented the results to the council.
Most residents identified mobility as a top priority in the next two years with 91% saying that it was essential or very important, Adams said.
Overall, residents reported they were pleased with a number of mobility aspects, Adams said — about six in 10 gave high scores to ease of travel by car (61%), about half were pleased with the ease of walking (54%) and the availability of paths and walking trails (53%), about four in 10 gave excellent or good scores to traffic flow (44%) and to public parking (40%).
“With the exception of street repair, these services were similar to communities elsewhere, but I think it’s worth noting that the scores for street repair, while lower than those benchmark averages (at 30%), they were actually the highest they’ve been (here) since we started doing the survey in (New Braunfels in) 2012,” Adams said. “It was 17% in 2012, excellent or good, now it’s up to 30%.”
Residents tended to feel less positively about alternative transportation measures — about one in 10 assigned excellent or good reviews about the ease of travel by public transportation and one-third gave high marks to bus or transit services and the ease of travel by bicycle, Adams said.
“We asked residents to rate how important 10 potential projects are to their overall quality of life here in the community, 98% — nearly everyone — stated that street improvements were very or somewhat important to them,” Adams said. “We also had about 56% state that public transportation would be very or somewhat important, however it was the least important measure out of those 10 potential projects.”
As with mobility, residents feel that the local economy is a priority, and think highly of the shopping and the community as a destination, Adams said.
“Nine in 10 residents said that the city should prioritize the economy in the next two years, and many also found that the city already excelled in a number of economic measures,” Adams said.
Three quarters (78%) felt positively about the overall economic health of New Braunfels, and nine in 10 (92%) assigned excellent or good scores to New Braunfels as a place to visit. Eight in 10 (80%) were pleased with public places where people want to spend time, and about three quarters felt positively about the overall quality of business and service establishments (76%) and shopping opportunities (75%).
“Around seven in 10 (69%) stated that they felt New Braunfels had a vibrant downtown or commercial area,” Adams said. “‘Place to visit,’ the ‘public place to spend time,’ ‘shopping opportunities’ and ‘the vibrancy of the downtown’ all exceeded national averages.”
On the flip side, more residents reported feeling under housing cost stress than they did in New Braunfels 2017 survey, Adams said.
“That means that more people are spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs,” Adams explained.
The final key finding was New Braunfels residents appreciate the recreational opportunities available in the community, Adams said — about nine in 10 (89%) praised the city parks, and eight in 10 (84%) awarded top marks to the recreation centers and programs (82%).
“We had around 78% to 79% feel positively about the recreational opportunities and the overall health and wellness of the community, and seven in 10 (72%) felt positive about fitness opportunities,” Adams said. “We saw very large increases for reviews for recreation centers, which increased from 70% positive in 2017 to 85% this year.”
In terms of that quality of life, residents feel that recreation is an important piece — about nine in 10 felt that outdoor recreation was somewhat or very important, and seven in 10 felt that river related recreation and indoor recreation were also important, Adams said.
“In summary, the main takeaways from the 2019 NCS results were that residents are generally pleased with travel in the community, but they do see areas for improvement; the economy is a focus and residents enjoy the attractions and the shopping; and residents enjoy their recreational opportunities,” Adams said.
Of the residents who responded, 434 indicated they were not of Hispanic or Latino descent while 180 identified they were; and based upon race, nine respondents identified as Native American or Alaskan Native; two of Asian, Asian Indian or Pacific Islander descent; 15 as black; 515 as white; and 63 as “other.”
For age ranges, 27% identified as under the age of 35, about 36% as between 35 and 54, and about 36% as over the age of 55, Adams said.
“The National Research Center has facilitated this survey for us four times,” said Sheri Masterson, public information officer for the city of New Braunfels. “In 2019, this is the fourth time we have participated in this nationwide survey, which benchmarks against other cities, as well as we can benchmark against our own results.”
The other three years the city participated in the survey were 2012, 2014 and 2017.
For more information on the results or to see the full detailed report, visit www.nbtexas.org/1494/Citizen-Survey.