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Survey: Oak Creek Doing Well, But Room For Improvement

More than 500 residents gave their views on Oak Creek through survey.

The two most important issues facing Oak Creek? Taxes and development. That and much, much more came out of a wide-ranging survey filled out by more than 500 residents.

The survey, conducted by Cobalt Community Research,  of 1,500 residents in November and December. It covered a broad range of topics, from services like police and inspection, to taxes and businesses. It also asked a question about where to locate a new city hall and library.

533 people returned the survey—a 35 percent response rate that's considered very strong and gave city officials a detailed look at how Oak Creek residents view the community.

The result: Mostly positive. Oak Creek programs and services generally scored well compared to other communities in the state, region and country, but there is still work to be done, said City Administrator Gerald Peterson said.

A glance at the results

In many categories, Oak Creek scored comparatively well. Police, fire and emergency and utility services were all above average. Government management - trustworthy leaders, well-trained employees, effective communication - also scored high.

In the ongoing debate about where city hall and the library should be located, the strongest view (by a small margin) was that it didn't matter where they were located, just don't raise taxes or have it impact services. Leaving the buildings at Puetz and Howell was the second-highest ranked option.

Some of the lowest scores in the survey were community events. The survey didn't make clear exactly the types of events residents want, but "range of cultural offerings" and "quality sporting events" were rated the lowest. Officials noted that could potentially be addressed through the Delphi redevelopment project.

Other notable responses from the survey:

  • What shopping or service businesses would you like to see more of? Restaurants.
  • What streets are in special need of maintenance? No surprise: 13th Street, specifically the portion south of Rawson Avenue.
  • A majority of residents did not support expanded public transportation - about 55 percent to 45 percent.
  • 40 percent would support combining dispatch services with another community as a budgetary action, the most out of any municipal service. (Discussions to that effect have been ongoing.)
  • 37 percent would support privatizing or outsourcing recycling collection as a budgetary action, the most out of any municipal service. (City officials have investigated doing so.)

The complete results can be found on the city's website

Where to go from here

The next step for Oak Creek is to dive into the information and come up with ways to implement changes.

"Overall, I think Oak Creek fared very well," Peterson said after the results were presented to the Common Council on Tuesday. "Our residents rate our services generally higher than other residents in this state, the Midwest and through the country, so I think that's a very good result.

"Economic development seems to be a key area for us to focus on, and information management is an area we can improve on."

Mayor Al Foeckler said the city should look to improve even its highest-rated area.

"It's easy to kind of pat ourselves on the back when we saw our community higher than others," he said. "Certainly commendable as far as the rating goes, but always room for improvement."

Beth Berger January 20, 2012 at 03:28 AM
The Oak Creek Public School District needs to improve and fast. It is below the county average.
Patriot January 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM
This area seems very concerned with development!! I understand that but given the present State of the economy and all the empty store fronts in the area, do we really need to develop more store fronts just so they can remain empty. Not sure about everybody else but I would like to see my taxes decrease rather than more empty store fronts littering our street!!!
Michael January 20, 2012 at 01:49 PM
A sampling of 533 random citizens hardly qualifies or quantifies how we feel here in Oak Creek. The developments laid before us will set the tone for our City moving forward into the next decade. With 3 of the 6 alderman up for re-election the prudent thing to do is hold a referendum on the Delphi project and the City's intent to move City Hall and the Public Library. Truly let us decide. Hold town hall meetings and detail to those concerned enough to attend the cost benefits / minuses for the citizens.
rick January 20, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Taxes are a bit high and since I have been living here (1984) services went down. Still proud to be a Oak Creek resident.
Harry Johnson January 20, 2012 at 05:19 PM
NO! We have to move the city hall and library NOW so that those who are still in power can have nice new offices.
CB January 21, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Oak creek offers great services, good schools and a. Growing business base. Proud to live and work here!
Mr.Ed January 21, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Oak Creek is a solid community. I hope we retain some sense of fiscal responsibility as we move forward. I am concerned with legacy costs and taking on more debt that will affect the ability to let our retired residents on fixed incomes afford to stay in their own homes.
vocal local 1 January 21, 2012 at 06:46 AM
A survey is nothing more than opinion, measuring whatever the designer desires, with weighted questions. Audio, per telephone presentation sound effects were terrible plus the results shown by graph were not laid out in the same numerical percentiles which lead to confusion in interpretation of data and comparison. Survey's are indicators, not valid data from which to make decisions as it is unknown what the level of knowledge was of the testor. Testors were not given background data then allowed to make informed choices. Here in OC few know what their city government is doing until it's too late. I often wonder how much the council members know as some don't even appear to read their packets before attending the meetings and voting. Everyone looked a bit stressed and relieved when the presentation was over.
Mr.Ed January 22, 2012 at 12:55 AM
@vocal local 1; The survey can not be considered valid. Our household received a survey. Actually my 18 year old daughter did. I filled it out for her. In doing so these are my 2 observations: 1.) The questions and survey as a whole were constructed with a bias. You could not answer the questions in a way that you could truly express an opinion on the issue at hand. A fictitious example would be "what type of trees do you want planted in the tree expansion project: a) apple b)cherry c)oak." Where as the question should have been, do we need a tree program? Do we need trees in this area? and so on... 2.) The survey should have been sent out to residents based on years of home ownership. The longer you have lived here, the more likely you would be to receive a survey. Why for gosh sake did my 18 year old daughter get one? With the exception of being able to grade her teachers over the past 12 years, she is no more capable of commenting on many of these issues than someone from Racine. Whoever created the survey had an agenda.
vocal local 1 January 22, 2012 at 07:43 AM
Sally, I hear what your saying, Now we have to watch how much weight is given it per the aldermen and their vote. One conclusion drawn is that OC residents don't care where the library is located, inferring that residents don't care about cost as long as it doesn't raise taxes. Unfortunately, the founding source WE ENERGIES monies is unstable. Higher taxes. Neither we nor the aldermen have been given total cost of various designs at various locations. We have not been given the costs of adding more stories/space at the present location of either library or city hall which current buildings were designed to expand "up" as the city grows. Both are currently centrally located. Leaving them where they are and expanding "up" is the least expensive but doesn't fit in with a suspect hidden agenda. Currently we owe five or six million on the police dept and seven on streets, say twelve plus 10.5 mil on the near horizon for the Drexel interchange, 25.5 million by next years end and Puetz and Pennsylvania plus other city street and bridge and building repairs. Roughly 29.3 necessary debt: Without any renovation or new building were facing rising significant debt with little or no growth. I fear were going to see a Library in a construction zone of insignificant retail/commercial fly by night, currently failing development if it is moved to the Delphi site. The only successful development in this economy is HUD rental housing which is in my opinion inappropriate at the Delphi site.

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