Traffic, Affordability Remain Key Concerns In Vienna Town Survey

VIENNA, VA — While a Town of Vienna community survey found overall satisfaction with the quality of life and services, traffic and affordability continue to be pain points for residents. Results were presented to Vienna Town Council Monday night.

The National Community Survey was completed in fall 2023 for the first time since 2018. Vienna’s town government typically participates in the survey every two years, but the 2020 survey was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The town used contractor Polco to administer the poll.

“There are a variety of ways these results can be used,” said Steven Vickers, a survey associate at Polco. “Most commonly the jurisdictions we work with use their survey data to monitor trends and resident opinion over time, measure government performance and ratings of public trust and to inform budgeting processes and strategic plans. Our results also allow you to benchmark your community’s specific characteristics and services against those same characteristics within other communities in our benchmark database.”

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The survey from Oct. 2 to Nov. 13, 2023 was mailed to 3,000 randomly-selected Vienna households and was later open to other town residents. The mailings drew a 32 percent response rate with 928 total responses, and another 100 responses came in through the open participation. Vickers said Vienna’s response rate was higher than the average 10 to 20 percent response rate for the National Community Survey in other places.

Overall, the survey found Vienna received higher ratings on 84 national benchmarks, similar ratings on 37 benchmarks and lower ratings on two benchmarks. The two with lower benchmarks than the national average were traffic flow and water resources, Vickers said.

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“Really the biggest thing that stands out that stood out to me personally was…just the traffic flow,” said Vickers. “We didn’t see very many scores as I pointed out that were below benchmarks, but this one did particularly stand out to me.”

On community design, 52 percent rated Vienna’s overall design of residential and commercial areas as good, while 25 percent rated it as fair, 19 percent as excellent and 4 percent as good. The highest ratings in the community design subcategory were 86 percent for overall appearance and 81 percent for public places where people want to spend time. The lowest ratings were 47 percent for well-planned commercial growth and 44 percent for variety of housing options.

“We see that many aspects of the in this community designed does receive positive reviews, but there are some potential areas of opportunity,” said Vickers. “Ratings for community design were all similar to or higher than national benchmarks, but the relative low quality rating and high importance of community design may warrant some additional focus.”

Affordability was one of the poor ratings for Vienna. Just 17 percent rated Vienna as excellent or good for availability of affordable quality housing, and 23 percent said the same about cost of living. There were 53 percent who said Vienna is good or excellent for affordable quality child care or preschool. One of the higher ratings was 76 percent who rated Vienna well for affordable quality health care.

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Transportation was another issue that drew some negative feedback. Overall, 47 percent of respondents rated Vienna’s transportation system as good, 25 percent as excellent, 22 percent as fair and 6 percent as poor. The highest rated factors were ease of walking with 83 percent and ease of traveling by bicycle with 69 percent. Traffic flow on major streets received the lowest rating — 31 percent.

Maintenance and other services were rated well, however. The survey found 88 percent rate snow removal as excellent or good, 86 percent for street cleaning, 76 percent for sidewalk maintenance, 73 percent for street lighting, 70 percent for traffic enforcement and street repair, and 68 percent for bus or transit services.

Sense of community was strong among the survey respondents. On community engagement, 97 percent rated Vienna as an excellent or good place to raise children, and 96 percent rated it as an excellent or good place to live. The overall quality of life received a 95 percent rating, and sense of community received 89 percent. But as a place to retire, only 56 percent rated it as an excellent or good location.

On the economy, 93 percent had high ratings of businesses, and 84 percent said Vienna was a good or excellent place to work. Overall economic health was rated good by 55 percent, excellent by 37 percent, fair by 8 percent and poor by 1 percent.

As the survey results presentation wrapped up, Mayor Linda Colbert acknowledged residents’ continuing concern of traffic.

“Thank goodness we have our signalization on Maple Avenue coming soon, and I think that that certainly is going to help flow traffic on Maple Avenue,” said Colbert.

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