Nearly 99% of the survey respondents described the quality of life as either “excellent” or “good.”
It’s no secret why many people choose to live and retire in Longboat Key.
Nearly 99% of the households that completed the town’s second annual citizen survey described the overall quality of life on the island as either “excellent” or “good.” Of them, 69.4% chose “excellent,” which is an increase from 57% in the 2020 survey.
On Monday afternoon, Dr. Stephen Neely of the University of South Florida’s School of Public Affairs delivered a report about the survey’s findings to town commissioners.
“It is the second year in a row that we conducted the survey, and so we believe the baseline for some trend data,” Neely said.
USF’s John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government helped design the survey with the town, administered it and analyzed the data.
In 2021, a total of 1,524 households responded to the survey after the town mailed out 8,320 invitations for a response rate of about 18.32%. Residents had from mid-January to Feb. 3 to complete the online survey.
“This is really excellent growth in the responses,” Neely said. “This stems from a couple of things, I believe, but largely due to the effort of the town leadership to get the message out to communicate with residents, the timeframe of the survey, the availability and how to access and complete the survey.”
In 2020, the town had 597 surveys completed after sending out 8,741 invitations for a response rate of about 6.83%.
“The larger your response rate, obviously, the more confident you can be in the inferences that the data shows you about your population,” Neely said.
Other highlights of the survey included:
- 94% of the respondents rated the town as either an “excellent” or “good” place to live, visit and retire
- More than 95% of respondents reported being satisfied with the town’s overall reputation, aesthetic appeal and safety
- 52% of the respondents reported being either “somewhat” or “very dissatisfied” with traffic and congestion on Longboat Key. However, this was down from 82% in 2020. It’s unclear whether the change is a result of temporary reductions in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey’s questions focused on seven general categories: quality of life in town; Gulf of Mexico Drive; town amenities; government services; communication with citizens; future priorities and Town Center amenities.
Specifically, 71% of respondents favored improving pedestrian crossings on GMD and 68% of them favored improving GMD’s bike lanes.
“A lot of residents in their responses emphasize the desire to see red instead of yellow lights,” Neely said pedestrian crossings. “The yellow lights really weren’t visible to them when they were driving, and so they didn’t feel as confident when they were crossing with the yellow lights, and so that was an issue that came up frequently.”
The town has had discussions with FDOT on potential crosswalk improvements along GMD.
The survey found 46% of respondents indicated that reducing the speed limit on Gulf of Mexico Drive was either “somewhat” or “very unimportant.” Only 30% indicated that it was important.
“This was probably the most divided issue on this topic,” Neely said.
Neely mentioned some of the changes from the 2021 survey compared to last year’s.
“We also added some questions, some really interesting questions this year about amenities on the Key,” Neely said. “The reason that people leave Longboat Key is the amenities that they leave town for and whether or not they would like to see those amenities available to them in town.”
A large percentage of respondents said they would be “somewhat” or “very likely” to attend the following types of events at the Town Center:
- Farmers markets (94%)
- Art shows / craft festivals (87%)
- Outdoor concerts (83%)
Respondents favored a multi-purpose space for live performances such as theater and music (66.1%), as well as additional spaces for art exhibits (46.1%) and active recreation (41.4%), such as exercise, dance and yoga classes.
What specifically a Town Center entails is still something the Town Commission is sorting out.