Westerville received a positive review from residents who participated in a recent online community survey.

Westerville received a positive review from residents who participated in a recent online community survey.

The majority -- 65 percent -- of the 1,324 residents who completed the survey between Nov. 4 and Dec. 21 said the quality of life is "better than" the quality of life in other suburbs. Ninety-five percent said the quality of life in Westerville is "about the same" or "better than" other suburbs.

When asked to rank what they liked most about living in Westerville, 29.5 percent said the "family-friendly" atmosphere, while 17.6 percent identified the safety of the community, and 10.1 percent said having family and friends nearby.

When asked what they liked least about living in Westerville, 25.5 percent of the survey's respondents said city taxes, while 22.5 percent said traffic and 8.8 percent said property taxes. The survey report said 25 percent of respondants either answered "nothing" or left the question blank.

The city released the results of the survey, conducted by Columbus-based Strategic Research Group Inc., last week.

"We're so pleased to see such an overall positive response and attitude from the community," Westerville community affairs administrator Christa Dickey said. "There were a few key areas they told us they wanted us to focus our attention on, and that's what we'll do."

The survey also quizzed participants on how they feel the city does in managing growth, promoting economic development, maintaining roads, promoting recycling and conservation and protecting green space.

Survey-takers overwhelmingly "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that Westerville does a good job in all of those areas.

The survey also asked residents to rate city departments and their operations on a scale of one to four, with one being "very poor" and four being "excellent."

All areas had mean scores of between three and four, an improvement from the 2005 community survey in which some areas, such as sidewalk maintenance within the Department of Public Works and zoning regulations and building regulations within the Department of Planning and Development Services missed the three-point mark.

Dickey said the city's various departments will be looking over the survey results in the coming months to see where their programs are working and to see what they can do to boost resident satisfaction.

Some things already in the works, such as overhauling the city Web site and working on allowing residents to pay utility bills online, are things that should directly address resident concerns in some areas, Dickey said.

"There are things that have been in the works for a while that we've been evaluating," she said.

The city is looking at ways to improve communication with residents, both through the Web site and by using social media, Dickey said. According to the survey, nearly 70 percent of residents identify suburban newspapers as being the most useful tool in staying informed about city-related issues.

The majority of residents, 48.4 percent, said they rarely visit the Westerville's Web site, and 32.4 percent said they visit it only once per month.

"We're looking at a Web site that does a better job of telling the Westerville story while allowing the user to interact a little more than it does now," Dickey said.

Roads also are another area the city could continue to improve, according to survey results. Fifty-five percent of residents reported seeing traffic improve on Westerville's arterial roadways in the last two years, but 44 percent reported they had not.

"Where the city rated well is no invitation to us to rest on our laurels," city manager David Collinsworth said. "While we're pleased to see such satisfaction in key areas, such as quality of life and city services and programs, we also see challenges and opportunities."

Because the survey report compares all of the results from the 2009 survey to the results of the last community survey, performed in 2005, Dickey said the city's staff is able to see what programs already are having a positive impact on residents' views of Westerville.

"We have a lot to say, 'These things are working; we're doing well here; we want to continue here,'" she said.

The full community survey report is posted on the city's Web site, www.westerville.org.