BRISTOL - Residents stay in Bristol for family, think the cityâ€™s greatest strength is its parks system, but say business retention could be improved.
The first in a series of surveys administered by the Bristol Development Authority gave residents a chance to speak up about the city.
Dawn Nielson, marketing and public relations specialist with the Bristol Development Authority, said that the overall consensus from the survey was a positive attitude toward the city.
â€śI donâ€™t think there was anything that surprising,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s kind of what I thought it would be.â€ť
Those who responded to the survey were asked to indicate the reasons why they live or own a business in Bristol. The highest, 29 percent, said that it was because of family living in Bristol; 14 percent said it is because they have always lived here; 11 percent said it was because of employment; and 10 percent said it is because Bristol is family friendly.
When polled on what the most crucial issues were in Bristol, the highest, 17 percent, said business retention; 12 percent said cost of living; and available employment and youth retention were both tied at 10 percent.
Of the residents polled, the highest, 19 percent, said that Bristolâ€™s greatest strength is its parks system; Bristolâ€™s location was chosen by 12 percent of residents; and its volunteer organizations were selected by 11 percent. City services, recreational activities and education were each chosen by 10 percent of residents.
As a result of this survey, Justin Malley, executive director of the Bristol Development Authority, suggested that the Bristol Development Authority will do more to strengthen its relationship with the cityâ€™s parks system.
â€śWe have a strong relationship, but we donâ€™t want to take it for granted,â€ť he said. â€śWe want to play to our strengths. At the end of the day, the BDA and all city departments are really a customer service organization. We are using these surveys so that residents can let us know what is important to them.â€ť
When asked how residents got their news, 25 percent of those who responded said they got it from the Bristol Observer; 22 percent said they got it from The Bristol Press; 11 percent said they get it from local TV and cable news; The Hartford Courant came in at 11 percent; social media and radio both got 10 percent each; BristolAllHeart.com got 4 percent; and BristolCT.net got 3 percent.
Nielson said that the surveys were made available Feb. 4 to Feb. 28 at the Bristol Public Library, at the clerkâ€™s office in City Hall, at the Bristol Home Show and via an email blast to members of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. Of 1,234 surveys distributed, 135 were filled out, translating to a 10.9 percent response rate.
â€śWe want to thank the community for their input,â€ť said Nielson. â€śThis is only one of many surveys weâ€™ll be conducting in order to keep communications with the Bristol community going and to make sure that the City of Bristol is listening to the businesses, residents and those that work here in Bristol to provide the best quality of life for all.â€ť
Of those who responded to the survey, 1 percent were 18 to 25, 6 percent were 26 to 35, 13 percent were 36 to 45, 16 percent were 46 to 55, 27 percent were 56 to 65 and 37 percent of those surveyed were over 65.
Malley said that future surveys could be targeted toward different demographics.
â€śIn future surveys, we will be making use of SurveyMonkey and reaching out to Chamber youth groups as well as the young professionals group PYVOT and advertising on social media,â€ť said Nielson. â€śThis will help us to get more feedback from younger folks where as more older folks responded to the print surveys.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.