Community survey reveals residents believe Naperville is a ‘great place to live’

Drone shot of downtown Naperville
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The vast majority of Naperville residents enjoy an exceptional quality of life, according to the results of a recent community survey.

On Monday, Oct. 9, members of the Naperville City Council discussed all of the findings from the 2023 National Community Survey (NCS), which was conducted earlier this year by social science research firm Polco. The questionnaire, which is used by cities and towns throughout the country, aims to find areas of both strength and improvement for local governments.

Survey findings

More than 600 residents completed the survey, with participants being chosen at random. In addition to quality of life, questions were also asked about the local economy, education, inclusivity, and community engagement.

Of particular note was the number of survey respondents who felt strongly about the city as a hub for arts and culture, with 94% of Naperville residents giving excellent or good marks to the opportunities available in the city. Similar marks were recorded in terms of the City’s economic health, with most people feeling Naperville is a great place to work.

Researchers at Polco also determined that locals value Naperville’s outdoor amenities and parks and recreation facilities, with about nine in ten residents rating them as high-quality, while eight in ten residents expressed confidence in the city government.

Out of 123 total questions on the NCS, respondents ranked Naperville above the national average in 103 of them, or nearly 84%.

Areas for improvement

While the results of the NCS were overwhelmingly positive when compared to other communities across the country, responses did indicate a few areas where residents wouldn’t mind seeing a few changes.

Less than half of the people polled ranked Naperville positively when it came to ease of travel by public transportation.

Another concern for residents who completed the survey is the availability of affordable quality housing, with 36% of respondents rating the city as excellent or good in that regard.

Both of these results were still in line for the national average for the NCS.

“You can pull out those areas that we are average at, and those will be areas that we will be trying to focus on,” said City Manager Doug Krieger. “But if you’re looking at ‘Hey, where’s the area where we are screwing up and dropping the ball?’ Frankly, when I went through the data, I couldn’t find any.”

What does this mean moving forward?

The NCS comes after local leaders made a pledge to seek out more citizen feedback. In 2021, the City of Naperville approved a new priorities plan, which recommended polling residents every two to three years. Prior to this year, the last community survey was held in 2016.

During Monday night’s workshop, council members reaffirmed their commitment to hearing from residents and discussed how the survey results could shape public policy moving forward.

“The challenge, I think, when you’re doing these things over a period of time is that what’s important to residents will tend to change,” said City Councilman Benny White. “Understanding where the community is, and the questions the community would like to know the answers to, I think would help us as leaders to ensure that we’re focusing on the important things.”

The full results of the 2023 National Community Survey are available online.

Naperville News 17’s Dylan Srocki reports.

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