Key findings from 2016 Community Survey:
Additional findings of interest:
The City staff and Council have identified eight main take a-ways from the 2016 Community Survey results. Here are those focus areas and key messages and action steps that will be incorporated into our communication plans.
Sense of community
It is apparent, that people value and desire a sense of community. There are many ways to build a sense of community including neighborhood parks and trials, dedicated gathering space, community events like Dan Patch Days and Night to Unite, public transportation and volunteering. This is actually part of the problem. Sense of community can mean different things to different people. Fortunately for Savage, we have several amenities that already exist that bring people together, including the Savage Sports Center, McColl Pond ELC, our 23 city and regional parks and several community wide events like Dan Patch Days and Night to Unite. Even the fact that new housing developments in Savage are encouraged to incorporate front porches and sidewalks helps to build a strong sense of community and encourages neighbors to get to know each other.
Key message: When communicating about any/all of the above noted amenities, include verbiage about community gatherings, bringing people together, gathering with friends, family and neighbors, etc.
Action: Moving forward, all marketing and communications efforts will reframe how the community can use and engage with these existing facilities and help residents see how these aspects make Savage a place where people want to be.
Parks and trails
Savage residents love their parks and trails. And they want the City to continue to invest in maintaining, expanding and connecting them. The Parks and Recreation division along with the PRNR Commission is also just finishing a larger parks and recreation study that is assessing the needs and priorities of the City’s park system. This will include a master plan for Community Park to address access to the park, expand parking options and determine any additional amenities. There is also a bike and pedestrian trail study planned as part of the 2017-2019 work plan that will create a similar inventory and assessment of all our current trails and develop a plan for upgrades and expansion. All of this is important because we anticipate that in the next 10-15 years, Savage will be fully developed. This means that we need to plan now for future parks, trails and nature areas that can become destinations in themselves, both because of the activities programmed in these spaces and because of the amenities of the spaces themselves.
Key message: One of our main messages is to capitalize on and maximize the benefits of public spaces that already exist in Savage. By definition, parks are a gathering space for active and passive uses. Savage is fortunate to have a robust park system consisting of 30+ miles of trails and 23 parks. These range in size from small neighborhood parks to large, regional parks. Their programming includes playgrounds, sports fields, picnic areas, walking and bicycle trails, and nature areas. The City also has the McColl Pond ELC and Sports Center that serve as both indoor and outdoor space for community events and are also available for rental. The combination of the outdoor parks and trails, and indoor community facilities create a set of gathering spaces for Savage residents to enjoy year-round.
Action: Create awareness for the breadth and depth of what our parks and recreation amenities offers throughout all marketing and communication efforts. A new project we are looking into is a PAR calendar that incorporates fun facts and information about our entire parks system as well as asks residents to share photos of the parks through a photo contest. Look into modifying the current PAR “tagline” of "explore, play, discover, create" to something that helps tie the above concept together. One suggestion is “Creating community through parks, programs and people”.
Drinking water quality
The City of Savage is committed to providing safe and quality drinking water to residents that meets or exceeds federal requirements. Unfortunately, due in part to events like the recent Flint Michigan water crisis, we have seen an increased national skepticism about what is really in the water we are drinking and a growing mistrust of cities and states who oversee the water quality.
Key message: City of Savage water is safe. Our water consistently meets or exceeds all federal and state requirements. Savage is consistently going above and beyond to monitor the water treatment process to ensure that our drinking water is protected from unintended circumstances.
Action: The annual Water Quality Report is the primary communication tool that the City uses to educate and reassure residents that Savage water meets and exceeds federal requirements. This is distributed through the City Connection, city website and all social media channels.
Quality of life and overall city governance
The Community Survey clearly shows that people feel Savage is a great place to live and raise a family. They like their neighborhoods. They feel safe. And they would recommend Savage to others. So it was surprising to see the ratings for overall city governance was lower than anticipated (between 60-70%). One reason for this discrepancy could be partially attributed to how people feel about government in general. Some of the negative perceptions around the current national political climate could influence how people feel about the local government as well. We also noted a low level of engagement residents have with City leaders. Only 12% contacted an elected official in the last year and over 80% of people never attended a public meeting or even watched a public meeting online. This could be part of a “no news is good news” situation – meaning when things are running smoothly and residents do not have any major concerns, there is less need to engage. When they do have concerns, more people voice their opinion. This is not unique to Savage. When comparing Savage to other communities in Minnesota like Edina, Woodbury and Eden Prairie, Savage ratings on city governance issues are similar. We actually do a bit better in a couple categories, specifically we rank 2 out of 8 MN communities for being honest, and 3 out 10 MN communities for treating residents fairly.
Key message: The City of Savage cares about what citizens think and their input is important.
Action: Use all communication channels available to communicate upcoming plans and how it impacts residents. Include direct calls to action so that residents know that we want them to respond and provide feedback, and make it easy for them to do that.
Savage as a place to visit
Savage may never have a major destination like a Valley Fair or MOA, but that does not mean that we don’t draw people from throughout the metro area and region. The City of Savage is fortunate to have several unique environmental amenities and community facilities that bring people into Savage. Last year, over 50,000 people walked through the doors of the Savage Sports Center for various events. Thousands gathered for family reunions, graduation parties and community events at the ELC. And our parks and shelters as well as the Fen, Boiling Springs and Eagle Creek trout stream bring in people to our community who help to support our local economy by shopping at our local stores, eating at our local restaurants, and filling up for gas at our local gas stations.
Key message: Savage has many existing amenities that bring people here to Savage. This is good for our local economy.
Action: Develop a community marketing piece that can be distributed to new developers that includes information on community amenities. Include these messages when talking about Savage to new and current residents. Potentially incorporate historical/community based information into our trails and park system and/or with the downtown banners.
Ease of public transportation
The majority of residents in Savage did not use public transportation last year (93%) and only 22% felt it was an issue that the City of Savage should address in the next five years. While not a primary issue, there are some obvious partnerships that make sense to support that could expand reliable transit service to Savage.
Key message: Savage has 2 park-n-ride lots with regular buses to downtown, Burnsville and the MOA. From there, you can literally go anywhere in the metro area.
Action: The City of Savage is actively partnering with the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority to expand more frequent and reliable transit service to Savage.
Savage may never be a huge employment base and this may not even be desirable for the City to consider. However, employers in Savage do provide jobs with a variety of skill levels and a livable wage for many. According to the Met Council, here is a comparison of current and projected jobs for Savage and neighboring communities:
Savage Shakopee Prior Lake
2010 jobs 6,753 18,831 7,766 (5,000 are at Mystic)
2020 projected jobs 8,100 25,500 9,000
Key message: Many large companies and manufacturers call Savage home including Fabcon, Cargill, Continental Machines and Beckhoff. Other manufacturers are located in both the Eagle Creek Business Park and along the Highway 13 West corridor. Not only is Savage home to various large employers, but these companies provide jobs with a variety of skill levels and jobs with good livable wages.
Action: Moving forward, marketing and communication efforts will emphasize the various larger employers located in Savage.
Only 27% of Savage residents say they volunteer. This could be low because the bulk of our residents are busy raising a family. But we know that volunteering can create community ownership and actually increase public trust because people share their positive experiences with others in the community.
Key message: Residents are the heart of our city and are needed to create a thriving community. The City of Savage has many volunteer opportunities for organizations and residents of all ages. It is critical that we continue to highlight the importance of getting involved and volunteering especially with community events like Dan Patch Days, Service Day Saturday etc. Without resident involvement, these events will not be able to continue.
Actions: Conduct an assessment to determine what ways volunteers should and can be effectively used. Market volunteer opportunities on an ongoing basis through the City Connection, website and social media channels. Highlight the importance of volunteers to community events like Dan Patch Days. Revamp how we regularly show appreciation and recognition.
Tell us what you think