Do the people of Louisville love their city? New survey results suggest that this answer is not so easy to come by. While overall it seems that Louisvillians enjoy their home, closer inspection of the results paints a clear division between East and West.
The ETC Institute, on behalf of the Louisville city planners, provided preliminary data to the Courier Journal, last week, from their new study focusing on citizens’ feelings of Louisville. Aiming to get a better assessment of their constituent’s needs, the city planners greenlit this report in hopes of detailing growth and zoning going forward, to the year 2040. The results here are based off of 600 respondent’s answers, 150 from each of the four sectors chosen by the institute, East Louisville, West Louisville, Central Louisville and nearby counties.
It is easy to look at this data and say Louisvillians are happy. 71% think it’s safe to travel around Louisville, 68% believe there is good space for outdoor activities and recreation. Louisvillians are most worried about the environment and sidewalks, and living close to their families. Overall, 90% of Louisvillians say Louisville is either a Great (47%) or Okay (43%) place to live. However, what lays behind these numbers a hidden division.
Analysis of the survey results on an East- West Louisville dichotomy provides us a clear view of just how stark the contrast is. While 89% of people in East Louisville felt safe walking in their neighborhood, only 47% felt safe in West Louisville. Results showed 66% of E.Louisvillians felt “Great” about Louisville, while only 34% felt that way in W.Louisville. Both East and West Louisville labeled schools as their biggest weakness (in fact all four regions said this), but had much different assertions on what was their second biggest weakness. East Louisville described their second biggest weakness as only public transportation. For West Louisville, 38% of people felt safety was their second biggest weakness.
These numbers not only show citizens’ concerns, but point out the areas government must focus on to fix. All Louisvillians are concerned about schools; a clear sign change must come. School choice, opening up of the education market, is an important step towards improving all kids’ educational opportunities. Better schools created more successful kids, less likely to continue neighborhoods down paths of crime and violence. It is not a coincidence that the area that felt schools was overwhelming there biggest weakest, West Louisville, also feels the least safe. Data has shown that better schools are directly related to drops in crime rates. To help stop this trend of bad schools, organizations within West Louisville have come in support of charter schools. With legislators poised to push for a school choice bill, this may be a chance for West Louisville to address their biggest concern.
The city can also take much quicker and simpler steps to help make West Louisville a safer neighborhood. Projects that can be done in a relatively short time with important consequences include adding street lamps and finding solutions for abandoned buildings. Adding street light makes walking home safer, and has been shown to deter criminal activity. Finding solutions for abandoned buildings removes havens for criminal activity.
When planning for the future, the divide between East and West Louisville cannot be ignored. The individuals problems of West Louisville that otherwise are hidden in the aggregate data must be recognized and met with real solutions. There are ways to fix these problems and some of the solutions are easily attainable.