The March 21 Special Town Council Meeting hosted Sonia Wytinck, COO of Polco/NRC, to present the Charlestown Community Survey results.
The survey, conducted over four weeks in 2021, asked 9,400 town stakeholders questions ranging from Charlestown’s quality of life to transparency in town governance.
Of the 9,400 surveyed, 2,270 people responded, with a response rate of 24%. Respondents included Charlestown property owners who are not registered voters. The nonvoting property owners were included in an effort to address the seasonal variability of town residents. Their addresses were taken from the rolls of property-tax assessments. All survey respondents, whether registered voters or simply property owners, were referred to in the report as “residents.”
Highlights of the survey:
- 94% of Charlestown residents said the overall quality of life in Charlestown was excellent or good, placing Charlestown much higher than the national benchmark.
- 92% of residents rated positively their feelings of safety and the overall image of Charlestown. 75% said the sense of community was excellent or good.
- When it came to jobs and affordable housing, the numbers dropped. Almost half of the survey respondents said they didn’t know enough to rate this, but among those who did, 53% found Charlestown to be an excellent or good place to work. 55% felt that the rate of job growth was too slow. Only 33% felt Charlestown offered quality affordable housing. All these ratings were either lower than or much lower than national benchmarks.
- Charlestown residents were generally happy with the value of services received for taxes paid. Overall confidence in Charlestown government was 69%. Overall performance of town government was 66%. The numbers dropped slightly to 64% satisfaction on whether town government generally acts in the best interest of the community. Numbers dropped further at whether town governance was considered open and transparent — only about half of Charlestown’s residents (54%) gave a satisfactory rating to transparency in town government.
- Town employees got an 87% satisfactory rating; town parks got an 82, and town-owned protected open spaces garnered an 86. All town services ranked higher than national benchmarks.
- Among town services, 90% of residents report to be satisfied with the local police department; 91% like Ninigret Park; and 92% are happy with the library and library programs.
- 88% of residents gave high marks to both the overall quality of green spaces and access to them, and 80% said that outdoor recreation opportunities were excellent or good.
- Our Senior/Community Center ranked as satisfactory with 70% of respondents; 75% were happy with town-sponsored events; 76% said they were satisfied with stormwater and wastewater management; 77% were satisfied with animal control; 79% were satisfied with parks and recreational activities; and 79% were content with harbor management and boating.
- Our local economy got an overall health rating of 71%, but less than half of respondents gave high ratings to the level of variety in businesses, dining opportunities, or shopping. These ratings were all below national benchmarks.
The town survey was conducted by Polco’s National Research Center (NRC) in 2021. The margin of error was reported by Polco to be plus or minus 2.1%.
The survey does not reflect recent debates centered on a food truck-event proposal that was rejected by the majority CCA bloc of Town Council. “This survey was taken last year, before current issues, including food trucks and transparency of governance eroding citizen confidence,” said Thom Cahir of CRU. Some numbers may have changed greatly since the survey was conducted.”
Full results will be posted to the town website in the coming days.
In the meantime, CRU welcomes your questions. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- R. DeAngelo