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Vineyard joins other Utah cities to participate in wellbeing survey

By Genelle Pugmire daily Herald - | Jun 17, 2021
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One of the shopping areas in Vineyard with the Megaplex Theatres at the head of the shops and restaurants. April 23, 2021. 

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Some of the stores and shops in Vineyard, considered to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.

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A cyclist rides southbound on the Point of the Mountain Trail after a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the trail held beside Minuteman Drive in Lehi on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The trail connects the Lehi Rail Trail in Utah County to the Porter Rockwell Trail in Salt Lake County. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Bicyclists ride southbound on the Point of the Mountain Trail after a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the trail held beside Minuteman Drive in Lehi on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The trail connects the Lehi Rail Trail in Utah County to the Porter Rockwell Trail in Salt Lake County. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Residents in 29 cities throughout Utah, including many along the Wasatch Front, have spoken out in a Utah State University survey how their wellbeing is.

Utah communities are changing rapidly, and to help support local planning efforts, members of the Utah State University Extension Utah Wellbeing Project recently surveyed residents about their overall wellbeing and their perspectives on life in their communities.

Data collected will help inform decision makers about the perspectives and experiences of residents, which, in turn, can assist in the general planning processes for cities and towns.

Some of the cities involved include Vineyard, Lehi, Spanish Fork, Santaquin, Saratoga Springs, South Ogden, Layton, Bountiful, Tooele, Sandy and Draper.

The project, led by Courtney Flint, USU professor and Extension community resource specialist, was conducted in partnership with the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

In early 2021, over 8,000 surveys were collected from residents of 29 Utah locations, ranging from small rural towns to Wasatch Front cities. Community residents, age 18 and older, were encouraged to take the online survey. City governments led the survey effort with advertising and recruitment, and Flint and her team of students and staff collected and analyzed the data.

Key findings from the 2021 survey include:

  • Due to COVID-19, personal wellbeing declined, ranging from 34% of survey respondents from East Carbon and Vineyard to 62% in Moab. Community wellbeing declined, ranging from 27% of respondents from Vineyard to 79% in Moab.
  • COVID-19 impacts on wellbeing were felt most strongly in terms of social connections, cultural opportunities and mental health.
  • Out of 29 study cities, Draper had the highest score for overall personal wellbeing. Hyde Park, Bountiful and Vineyard ranked highest for overall community wellbeing.
  • Overall in Utah, living standards, safety and security, and connection with nature were the top three-rated aspects of wellbeing, referred to in the study as wellbeing domains. Cities varied in terms of most important and most highly rated wellbeing categories.
  • Female respondents indicated higher importance of multiple wellbeing domains, particularly education, mental health, safety and security, and social connections. Respondents age 60 and above rated their mental health higher than other age groups in 11 of the study communities.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consistently rated their wellbeing higher than other responders.

Across the board, the data showed that feeling connected to community is positively related to personal wellbeing. And, the more connected people felt to their communities, the less likely they were to experience a decline in wellbeing due to COVID-19.

Flint said the Utah Wellbeing Project helps city leaders and planners keep their fingers on the pulse of their residents’ experiences.

“Whether they are from small rural towns or Wasatch Front cities, we’ve learned that many Utahns value their natural landscapes and their safety and security,” she said. “That said, each community has a unique set of perspectives and ideas on how to enhance local wellbeing.”

Cameron Diehl, Utah League of Cities and Towns executive director, said the survey provides very insightful data.

“This can guide each community as it plans for residential needs and growth, both today and in the future,” he said.

“We know from the survey that people’s happiness is directly related to their involvement in the community,” said Mayor Julie Fullmer of Vineyard. “We’ve continuously opened up our transparency with communication and ways for them to engage with us. Podium is one of our new features where the community is really able to share their feedback.

“We’ve also been meeting over the last several months within each of the individual communities, gaining feedback, learning what they want to see in our general plan, and coming up with ways that we can have this public engagement at a much richer level so people can feel connected and like this is a home they have created,” Fulllmer added.

Some of Flint’s other findings includes residents’ concerns for the future of Utah cities and that those concerns varied considerably.

In the larger and more rapidly growing Utah cities, primary concerns for over two-thirds of respondents included air quality, water supply, roads and transportation, affordable housing and public safety.

For rural communities, opportunities for youth, employment opportunities, and substance abuse accompanied concerns about water supply and affordable housing for at least 70% of respondents.

Natural landscapes, such as mountains, rivers, streams and trails had overwhelmingly positive influences on wellbeing.

Perceptions on the rate of population growth and the pace of economic development varied across cities.

For places like Draper, Lehi and Moab, both population and economic growth were seen as too fast. For most rural locations, economic growth was generally indicated to be too slow.

“One of the things that our community really hoped to see was more ability for places to gather, like recreation centers and libraries,” Fullmer said. “We just opened a small children’s library where people are able to gather to attain resources, check out children’s books, and have access to better reading programs. There’s a science program coming in once a month on Saturdays through library volunteers.”

“Residents have access to state and online resources that give them the ability to access mental health resources or anything really that they are looking to get more resources on. Additionally, we have been working with the communities of Orem and Provo on finding resources for our community to get involved in their recreation centers,” Fullmer added.

Vineyard is currently doing a large master plan for all of the parks in Vineyard to add things like skate parks, an all-abilities park, and dog parks.

“We are going through that process right now. We really think it’s going to have a positive effect as we engage the public,” Fullmer said.

In looking at other towns around the state, the city of South Ogden showed the following:

Survey participants were asked about their overall personal wellbeing and overall community wellbeing in South Ogden. These wellbeing indicators both measured on a 5-point scale from very poor (1) to excellent (5).

The average personal wellbeing score in South Ogden was 4.05, with 81% of respondents indicating their wellbeing at a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale. The average score for community wellbeing in South Ogden was 3.68 with 65% of respondents indicating city wellbeing at a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale.

In Layton, the wellbeing scores look like this: The average personal wellbeing scores in Layton was 3.98, with 76% of respondents indicating their wellbeing at a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale. The average score for community wellbeing in Layton was 3.72 with 66% of respondents indicating city wellbeing at a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale.

In Lehi the scores showed this: The average personal wellbeing score was 3.98 with 75% of respondents indicating their wellbeing at a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale. The average score for community wellbeing in Lehi was 3.60 with 60% of respondents indicating city wellbeing at a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale.

Flint’s survey shows that overall, Utahns feel pretty good about their wellbeing.

The average overall personal wellbeing score for all surveyed Utahns was 3.99 on a scale from 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent). The figures below show the city scores for overall personal wellbeing and community wellbeing within their cluster type.

Scores for overall personal and community wellbeing were lower for Rural, Rural Hub and Resort Cities (average 3.94 and 3.57) than for Rapid Growth Cities (average 4.00 and 3.66) and Cities of the 1st and 2nd Class and Established/Mid-sized Cities (average 4.00 and 3.70).

The survey asked respondents to rate their wellbeing for 10 domains and indicate the importance of these domains to their overall wellbeing. For all Utahns surveyed in 2021, the highest-rated domains were Living Standards, Safety and Security and Connection with Nature.

The most important domains were Safety and Security, Mental Health, and Physical Health. Local Environmental Quality was the only domain falling in the “red zone” quadrant for higher importance, but lower than average ratings.

Physical Health, Mental Health, and Leisure Time approach this zone. Rural communities were more likely to have high ratings for Connection with Nature and Local Environmental Quality. Statewide, and for each city, Cultural Opportunities was the lowest rated and least important.

To read the entire survey with data, visit: https://extension.usu.edu/business-and-community/utah-wellbeing-project/index.

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