Researcher Tom Miller worried he was boring the Lone Tree City Council. For the third time running, his company offered them a glowing report on residents’ satisfaction.
“I hope this doesn’t get terribly, terribly repetitive,” Miller, president of the Boulder-based National Research Center, told the council during its Dec. 4 meeting. “These are very positive results.”
Lone Tree conducts a resident survey every three years, the first in 2006. Results each time have revealed a happy population.
As they did in 2009, 98 percent of the 2012 respondents rated overall quality of life “excellent” or “good.” That puts Lone Tree second among 33 other Front Range communities surveyed by NRC, and 11th among 400 nationwide.
“Folks said by large percentages this community has a great reputation,” Miller said. “People feel safe here. They are likely to stay here. All of the city services got quite high ratings, higher than other places. It’s hard to find opportunities in a report that’s so positive.”
City employees gained similar reviews.
“Your employees are really the face of the community, so this is definitely something to celebrate,” Miller said.
But in open-ended survey questions, residents said they want more — more high-end restaurants and retail, trails, recreational facilities, affordable housing and cultural events. And, in many instances, fewer — fewer traffic lights, fast food restaurants, fees at city amenities and taxes.
Many also called for bigger and better, with repeated requests for a bigger library and redesigned recreation center.
Councilmembers were unsurprised but pleased by the results.
“It’s very nice to be in a situation where the vast majority approves,” Councilmember Harold Anderson said. “I think Lone Tree is sitting in a really good position, (though) sometimes expectations are so high it’s hard to live up to what they expect of us.”
Mayor Jim Gunning said the results don’t mean the council can rest on its laurels.
“The survey shows what you did yesterday,” he said. “So you need to think about what you’re doing tomorrow.
About 10 percent of the city’s 11,000 residents filled out the survey. The city's cost for the 2012 survey is about $21,000.
NRC recently conducted a similar survey for the Highlands Ranch Community Association, which showed a similar level of contentment. There, 93 percent of respondents rated the quality of life “excellent” or “good.”