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Survey: Woodbury exhibiting evidence of 'west-to-east movement'

Woodbury residents are here to stay.

That pretty much summarizes the results of the 2011 community survey that were released this week and presented at Wednesday's City Council workshop.

Decision Resources' Bill Morris said a lot of the traditional findings are still visible in the community, but some changes were also revealed.

"You don't have one crushing, serious issue that has been here year in and year out," Morris, of the Minneapolis-based firm, told council members Wednesday.

Residents continue to move from St. Paul and other Washington County communities, but 17 percent moved from out of state in the past two years and 12 percent from Minneapolis, which is an uptick from the past.

There is a new "west to east movement" happening that's not necessarily traditional, Morris said. People have always stayed on one side of the river, but that's starting to change.

"There is a little break from the norm in terms of what we're finding," he said.

In terms of services offered in the city, basic police, fire, emergency medicine and parks and recreation were highly rated with about 95 percent saying they've had positive experiences in those areas.

On the other hand, street lighting wasn't as well received -- the percentage of negative comments doubled from 11 percent two years ago, to 22 percent this year rating street lights as poor or fair. Those results were consistent with other towns surveyed across the metro, however.

Morris said people weren't concerned so much with street-lighting related crime as the overall sense of safety in the community.

He added that attitudes regarding city services like snow plowing, street services and water and sewer was about 95 percent positive, which ranks Woodbury second in the state after Minnetonka in that category.

"That's exceptionally good," Morris said.

But when asked if residents would support higher city taxes to maintain services, 49 percent of respondents said they would oppose, while 34 agreed to support and 17 percent didn't know or refused to answer.

According to survey results in 2003 and 2005, more people were willing to support higher taxes to maintain or improve city services. In 2007 and 2009 and now in 2011, fewer residents are open to that idea, Morris said.

The city conducts the biennial survey to get a feel of what the residents of Woodbury want and to make any changes if necessary, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said.

Look for more on the story, include survey results on Bielenberg Sports Center expansion, in the April 27 print edition.

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.