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Results of first community survey

T-R PHOTO BY JOE FISHER The economic health of Marshalltown was rated as the most important livability issue in the community survey recently completed by the National Research Center.

The pulse of Marshalltown was recently taken in a community survey which highlights what residents want improved in their city and how they prioritize different facets of life livability.

The survey was conducted by the National Research Center, a branch of the Wisconsin-based company Polco.

Surveys were sent to 3,000 households, with 1,500 being asked to participate online. About 18 percent — 522 people — responded.

The survey asks people to answer how they feel about the city in categories relating to safety, livability, the local economy, education and others.

Of those surveyed, 95 percent ranked economic health as the most important issue pertaining to livability. The overall economic health of Marshalltown ranked below the national average of 600 communities in generating a positive response. Only 35 percent gave a positive response when rating the overall health of the city.

When asked how they felt about Marshalltown being a place to live, 63 percent agreed it is below the benchmark. Fifty-seven percent responded positively to the city’s livability which is also less than average.

The overall image and reputation of Marshalltown was classified “Much lower” with 31 percent of responses being positive.

“I can’t imagine a worse time to send out a survey on how things look than after a tornado and a derecho,” Mayor Joel Greer said. “I remember the next day after the tornado, Sen. Grassley was in town. He did an interview in front of the T-R and said just today Cedar Rapids got its big check from the federal government. That was 10 years after the flood.”

Michelle Spohnheimer, director of housing and urban development, said the response to questions of economic health were also not a surprise, but it is hard to tell how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted individual feelings about the economy.

About 20 percent of the households surveyed where at least one adult worked reported job loss as a problem relating to COVID-19. Reduced pay and missing work were also concerns because of the pandemic.

“We’re living in a time right now where people’s household economics are being challenged,” Spohnheimer said. “We hope that as we see some development people will see these organizations are choosing to invest in Marshalltown. That should send a message to residents that there is stability there.”

About six of 10 people said they were concerned about health and vulnerable populations. Thirty percent answered “Not at all concerned” about their behaviors impacting the health and wellness of vulnerable populations. Fifty percent were “Very concerned” about mask wearing and 52 percent were “Very concerned” about people maintaining physical distance in Marshalltown.

Public safety services like the police and fire department received an overall positive response. Fire services were called “Good” or “Excellent” at an 88 percent approval rating while ambulance and medical services were at 80 percent. At the same time, only 59 percent reported feeling safe from a fire, flood or natural disaster.

Police were a hair lower than fire and medical services with 79 percent positive response. Only 56 percent said they felt safe in Marshalltown, 70 percent responded as feeling safe from violent crime and 61 percent felt safe from property crime. Eleven percent responded “Poor” to public safety in the city. About 90 percent said they felt safe in their neighborhood or downtown during the day but only about 60 percent felt the same at night.

COMMUNITY SURVEY

The community survey can be viewed at

marshalltown-ia.gov/703/2020-Community-Survey

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Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com

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