COEUR d'ALENE - The greater Coeur d'Alene residents who have participated in the CDA 2030 visioning process are unusually optimistic about the future of their city, according to several scientific and non-scientific surveys conducted by the group.
And the audience that attended the "Exploring Greater CDA in 2030" event at the Salvation Army Kroc Center Monday night was even more optimistic than the community at large.
Steven Ames, of NXT Consulting Group, said that may be a reflection of how people who attend community meetings are more willing to engage in processes like visioning.
"The one thing I can tell you, as a city planning consultant who has worked in cities all over the West, this is very unusual," he said. "It is very rare when I go into a community and I ask this question and I don't get most people on the negative side of the equation, saying things are going to get worse, or somewhat worse."
Ames was referring to a question that was posed to 400 residents of the greater Coeur d'Alene area during a telephone survey this past summer, and then again to roughly 150 people who were in the audience and participated in an interactive survey at the Kroc Center Monday night.
In the future, do you think greater Coeur d'Alene will become a better place to live, a worse place to live or will it stay about the same? Ames asked the audience to register their answers on a wireless keypad they were given as they entered the event.
Possible choice of answers were 1) much better, 2) somewhat better 3) stay the same 4) somewhat worse 5) much worse.
The audience, 53 percent of them, said it would be somewhat better, followed by 19 percent saying it would be much better. About 12 percent said it would stay the same and 15 percent said somewhat worse, while only 1 percent said much worse.
Compared to the scientific survey of 400 people in the community, 33 percent said it would get somewhat better, almost 12 percent said much better, and 27 percent said it would be the same, while 19 percent said somewhat worse and almost 4 percent said much worse.
"Maybe there is something magic in the water here," Ames said. "I will say to you that is a resource as you look to the future. Communities that are optimistic about their future generally can mobilize better to do something to ensure it stays that way."
The audience was asked how long they have lived in Coeur d'Alene and 40 percent said over 20 years, and 42 percent of them have swam in Lake Coeur d'Alene, attended the Fourth of July Parade, used the Centennial Trail and volunteered for Ironman.
Ames asked the audience a series of other questions that were also used in the scientific survey to see how they compared.
The audience felt Coeur d'Alene's greatest strength is its scenic beauty and quality of life, which nearly tied, with beauty getting 37 percent of the vote and quality getting 35 percent. The community survey showed a whopping 52 percent of the community felt it was the scenic beauty, followed by trails and recreation at 18 percent.
Then he gauged Coeur d'Alene weaknesses. Low pay topped the audience answers with 39 percent agreeing, followed by lack of jobs at 35 percent. The scientific survey results were similar with the largest percentage 16.2 saying low pay, followed by 14.2 percent saying lack of jobs. About 11 percent of the general public felt the local governance was Coeur d'Alene's greatest weakness, and 6 percent of the audience chose that as the greatest weakness as well.
When asked what was most important to them, 27 percent of the audience chose schools and education, followed by lack of jobs at 25 percent and the economy at 15 percent. The public chose growth as the most important at almost 25 percent, and 21 percent said it was lack of jobs followed by almost 21 percent who marked "other."
The full survey will be posted to the CDA 2030 website today at www.CDA2030.org. Ames said it contains a lot more information about how the general public views Coeur d'Alene now and into the future.
There will also be a brown bag luncheon at North Idaho College today to present even more details from that survey and other data-gathering efforts that have taken place over the course of the summer. (See related sidebar)
Marcee Hartzell, executive assistant to the vice president of the University of Idaho's Coeur d'Alene Campus, announced that the 2030 vision process will also involve children.
She said CDA 2030 is launching and Youth Vision Art and Essay contest in the schools to get a feel for what they want to see Coeur d'Alene look like in 2030.
Participating students will have a chance to win prizes, which includes a new X-Box, she said.
The art work and essays will be displayed at a Visioning Summit that is being planned for Nov. 16, where the results of this week's events will be debuted.
In the meantime, the public is encouraged to attend at least one of the workshops being held this week. (See related sidebar for information).