Survey: New Albany residents say city does well at managing commercial growth

The Columbus Dispatch – September 27, 2022

A large plurality of New Albany residents say the city is moving in the right direction and they’re overall pleased with city services and officials.

Also, according to the city’s most recent biennial survey released by Columbus-based Saperstein Associates, the city gets high marks (80%) for managing commercial growth and development, but residents are less enthusiastic about the handling of residential growth and development (69%).

As this graphic shows, 89% of New Albany residents say the city is on the right track. The survey, done by Columbus-based Saperstein Associates, also questioned residents about their views of city services, officials, retail businesses and diversity.

Nearly nine of 10 residents (88%) consider New Albany a very good or excellent place to live.

The survey was taken between May 21 and Jun 24. A presentation was made to council during its Sept. 20 meeting.

The last one was done in 2020.

Saperstein Associates called 7,900 phone numbers multiple times and contacted 1,328 residents, 308 of whom completed the entire survey by phone.

The margin for error is 5.6% in areas where the confidence was at the 95% level.

City officials saw their stock shoot up 10% when it comes to developing park land, with at least 90% satisfied to very satisfied, compared to when the first communitywide survey was done in 2018.

The demand for family-friendly and casual restaurants in Market Square and Village Center has dropped 7 percentage points to 54% since 2020. Likewise, the desire for more pubs and taverns has fallen from 42% in 2020 to 35% in 2022.

“We do these surveys all over central Ohio, and the demand for restaurants is almost insatiable,” said Marty Saperstein, president of the polling company.

On a related note, the community is almost evenly split on who would accept (51%) or decline (46%) more residential development to accommodate the addition of more retail.

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The survey shows that the younger respondents, ages 18 to 24, would accept higher density (56%), whereas those ages 55 and older would not (42%).

Among residents favoring more amenities in Market Square and Village Center, about half (51%) would accept more residential density if it encouraged those businesses to open. Almost as many (46%) would not. Among those ages 18-34, 56% would approve, but among those ages 55 and older, 42% wouldn’t. Data wasn’t provided for those in the 35-54 age range. And among residents who’ve lived in the city for less than five years, 61% would approve, but only 46% of residents who’ve lived there longer than five years would.

In other highlights from the survey: 48% of residents are somewhat or very concerned about another COVID outbreak, but 51% aren’t too concerned or not concerned at all.

Also, 29% of residents strongly believe the city is a diverse community while 11% strongly disagree. In 2020, the figures were 23% and 21%, respectively.

Scott McAfee, the city’s chief communications and marketing officer, said the survey gives a broad base of residents a voice in city services, programs and future desires.

“The sample is very representative of the entire community, by demographics and even geography, so the information is very reliable.” McAfee said.