Don’t worry, be happy with life in Naperville
By Tim West firstname.lastname@example.org February 26, 2013 8:10PM
Updated: March 28, 2013 6:13AM
Many, many years ago I read a news account of the latest psychobabble study on happiness.
In it, the author concluded that most people were acutely unhappy most of the time.
Now I don’t know about most people, but because I work in a profession where you don’t much hear from folks unless they have something negative to say, I came away with the feeling that psychobabble or not, there may be something to that.
Bear in mind that this was before the Internet had taken over our lives, so even though we would get anonymous letters aplenty, there was nothing like the opportunity that the Internet affords to give people the opportunity to air their woes, real and imagined.
But it’s easy to get a skewed opinion when you basically hear from the disaffected. Happy people don’t generally write to the media to say how much they like something.
That’s why it was nice to have my sense of equilibrium restored by the latest survey of resident satisfaction in the city of Naperville.
If nothing else, it mostly justifies Mayor A. George Pradel’s many years of ebullient optimism over life in Naperville.
The mayor may be derided by some as a cheerleader for the city, but there is a lot to cheer about — or at least the vast majority of residents would seem to agree.
An article in Sunday’s Sun hit the high points of residential satisfaction with life here, and the results were similar to a study done in 2008. If you want to see the whole thing log on to the city’s website.
The high point of the survey was that 91 percent of those who responded to the random survey expressed satisfaction with the overall quality of life here.
Being happy with the city in which you live certainly adds to quality of life, and that Naperville fairly consistently ranks highly in magazine surveys of quality of life lends credence to that.
Areas where the city got knocked were traffic flow and congestion management, public transportation (presumably lack of same), household hazardous waste disposal efforts, the visibility (again lack of same) of police in neighborhoods and the quality of the city’s TV station.
Interestingly, 17 percent of residents said they felt unsafe in the downtown after 10 p.m.
I write “interestingly” because given the drumbeat of adverse publicity in recent years about problems related to the downtown bars and alcohol consumption, I’m surprised that number isn’t higher.
Perception is reality, and though it shouldn’t be, if people think the late night bar scene is dangerous, then it is, at least to them.
To its credit, the city has clamped down to an extent on downtown drinking, but perhaps fewer bars would be desirable.
As to the other areas where the city falls short in residents’ eyes, traffic congestion has always been a problem here, even though over the course of the years the city has put new roads where it has the capability to do so.
Most of them, like Naper Boulevard, have been important and positive, though I have my doubts about the upcoming Bridges to Bolingbrook project.
The city is always going to get clogged with traffic.
As for public transportation, the expenditures necessary to create that don’t seem to be on anybody’s radar screen in these budget cutting times, and they don’t seem to be in the national psyche, except for a couple of large projects that won’t do us any good.
Police presence in neighborhoods will only increase if the city sees the need, and has the funds, to do it.
The city’s television station is valuable, at least to me as a way to keep track of the City Council, but I’m not sure doing much more with it would be a good use of funds.
But all of these shortcomings aside, that 91 percent of residents are overall content with Naperville life speaks highly for our community.
There may be no way the other 9 percent will get on board, but can only hope.
As for me, I’m firmly in the 91 percent.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my 40-plus years in Naperville, and if I could I’d do it all over again.