What does an excellent quality of life mean to you?
This January, more than 800 Shakopee residents took part in a mail and opt-in online survey measuring how residents feel about their city, its programs and services.
The results, however, are giving the City Council reason to pause.
While the majority of residents are pleased with the city, giving Shakopee excellent or good marks in most areas, there seems to be a disconnect between how people view Shakopee and the objective data departments use to measure their services.
For example, 64 percent of Shakopee residents consider Shakopee a safe place to live, which is near the bottom of the 18 comparable metro cities that also use the National Citizen Survey. However, crime rate and case clearance rate data indicate Shakopee ranks about seventh among the same cities.
"The facts routinely show Shakopee is a very safe community, yet it seems residents do not necessarily feel this way," said Police Chief Jeff Tate. "This is concerning. Our goal is always to make sure every resident feels safe."
Similarly, among comparable cities, Shakopee consistently ranks low in resident perception of the community as an excellent or good place to live, work and play. Only 48 percent of residents think Shakopee has a positive image. Yet, 80 percent of residents would recommend living in Shakopee.
"In analyzing the survey, we came to the conclusion that perception doesn't seem to be matching reality," said Assistant City Administrator Nate Burkett. "But the truth is, perception is reality, and we have work to do to ensure our residents feel like they are receiving the quality of life they want."
Another concern for city staff is Shakopee's low ranking among the other communities who participate in the survey. In many categories, Shakopee ranked at or near the bottom. "Frankly, we feel we're better than this," Burkett said.
The City Council plans to use the results as part of a strategic planning process to identify specific areas of focus over the coming years. After years of growing pains, the goal is to identify who Shakopee wants to be and make sure we're moving toward that target. The ideas in the Envision Shakopee plan are a good start.
"I think this survey will be a catalyst for positive change that can only make Shakopee a better place to live, work and play," said Mayor Bill Mars.
View the survey results at www.ShakopeeMN.gov/communitysurvey.
This story originally appeared in the Summer 2019 Hometown Messenger.