Residents give Ames stamp of approval

Matt Kuhns

Ames received an almost unanimously positive response from residents in a new survey released by the city’s public relations department Friday.

Last March, 510 Resident Satisfaction Surveys were sent to a cross-section of Ames residents including students, homemakers, business people and retirees, with 190 surveys being returned.

Asked to rate the quality of services the city provides, 99 percent of respondents said “good” or “very good.”

Ames Public Relations Officer Clare Bills said this is very favorable news.

“A lot of cities are thrilled with 60 percent [satisfaction],” she said.

Bills said the survey is a good way to measure how the city is doing and get a sense of trends by comparing results over a period of years.

The results of the survey will be presented to the Ames City Council at tonight’s meeting. Bills said the council and city department heads use the responses to help in preparing budgets.

Council member John Parks said the council usually looks for two things: which areas have the highest negatives and which areas have received significantly different responses from the past year.

“We try to address these specific concerns at our budget hearing,” Parks said.

Past survey responses have led the council to make policy changes in various areas, including police enforcement and snow removal, Parks said.

New to this year’s survey results was a cross-tabulation of responses with demographics of respondents. Bills said this addition is “invaluable” in trying to determine where support for issues is strongest.

Bills said there were not a lot of surprises in this year’s survey responses.

As in years past, respondents listed street repairs as their No. 1 priority for the capital improvement budget.

Parking in Campustown was rated “poor” or “very poor” by over two-thirds of those surveyed.

The city’s ice and snow removal received high ratings overall, but of the groups surveyed, students gave it the lowest rating.

The Ames Police Department also received a number of complaints, for example: “Officers target students too much — they have an attitude and misrepresent the community.”

Nonetheless, many comments reflected the respondents’ overall positive view of the community.

Among the feedback: “I think Ames is doing a great job!” “Ames is a wonderful city!” and “Ames is a great place to live!”