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Woodbury ranks second in metro, according to survey

Almost everyone who was surveyed in February said the overall quality of life in Woodbury was good or excellent.

To be exact, 97 percent of the residents called by Decision Resources said they were happy with the city overall.

"To say that this is a positive report is an understatement," said Bill Morris of Decision resources, a Minneapolis polling firm that surveys communities all across the metro, ranking Woodbury as the No. 2 most desirable community in the metropolitan area.

But he said it was "tight No. 2, meaning not too much difference between No. 1 and No. 2."

Morris presented the results of the biennial survey at the Woodbury City Council meeting Wednesday night, where he highlighted various questions and issues discussed with the 400 randomly selected residents.

Consistent with previous years, one of the major issues concerning residents in Woodbury is growth and traffic congestion.

Morris said 29 percent reported being worried about growth, compared with about 50 percent in the 1990s, amid perceptions the city was growing too fast. However, the results were a jump from the 23 percent who said the issue was a concern in 2009.

Aside from growth, some residents said the city doesn't have enough housing opportunities for specific demographics.

According to the survey results, 36 percent said there is too little housing for the physically disabled, while 37 percent said there aren't enough starter homes in the community.

"People want to be able to live in the community as they age," Morris said, adding that people also want their children to come back to the community and live in affordable single family homes. "It's a generational thing."

Comparing the results to Richfield about 15 years ago, he said Woodbury has all the markings of a multi-generational community.

About 27 percent of those surveyed also said there was too much high-cost housing and the same number said the city has more than enough townhomes.

When it comes to recreation opportunities, though, residents seem pretty happy about what's already available.

"The parks system here really is the jewel in the crown for the city of Woodbury," Morris said.

The survey asked if residents would support an outdoor water park, resulting in 68 percent saying yes, 24 percent opposed and 9 percent were unsure.

The question did not say whether taxes would increase to support such a project, so when residents were asked whether they would support a water park with a tax hike, the average number said they'd be OK with an additional $2.10 per month.

In the end, Morris said one in five residents would use a water park if it were built.

Morris also said residents' perception of local property taxes and services ranks the city high compared to other communities of the same size.

The survey stated 44 percent say property taxes are high, while 43 percent said average.

"That reflects a benign property tax climate, not even borderline hostile," he said, adding that it's considered hostile when 55 percent consider taxes high, while 35 say they're average.

He also added that when residents look at the taxes-to-services ratio, 87 percent value city services in a positive way, meaning excellent or good.

"The value of city services here is very highly regarded," Morris said.

What also contributed to an overall positive survey outcome was residents' response regarding communication efforts by the city. It's also because 93 percent feel safe in their neighborhoods.

The city of Woodbury has been conducting the survey every two years since 1999. The statistically valid survey consisted of phone interviews of 400 randomly selected residents.

In general, random samples such as this survey yield results that are accurate within plus or minus 5 percent in 95 out of 100 cases.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.