Survey says: Aspen residents are mostly happy with city services
Ryan Summerlin November 6, 2013
The results of the 2013 city of Aspen resident survey were released last week and mirror a continuing trend of positive feedback for the services Aspen provides.
This year, the survey again says that Aspen residents enjoy a high quality of life and feel safe. The first survey was offered in 1997.
The majority of those polled also reported a strong level of satisfaction with the services the city provides. Some of those services include the Aspen Recreation Center; the Wheeler Opera House; parks and trails; street maintenance and plowing; housing; police; and utility billing.
“The city of Aspen takes resident surveys seriously and uses the results to measure departmental performance,” said Barry Crook, assistant city manager. “We also use the surveys to see where change needs to occur in the way we do business.”
The survey was mailed to a random selection of 1,200 registered Aspen voters and had a response rate of 23 percent.
Among the respondents’ biggest concerns were water levels in the Roaring Fork River, building height and mass in the downtown core, and construction impacts.
The city did respond to the water-levels issue by redirecting water back into the river from the irrigation ditches the city controls.
“We also tried to encourage others with irrigation rights to follow our lead,” Crook said.
Crook said construction concerns are cyclical and that Aspen is in one of those cycles where there’s quite a bit of construction going on. He said the city has made sure the construction companies stick to their construction-mitigation plans, encouraging those companies to minimize truck traffic and work within designated hours of operation.
“We also increased the costs of parking spaces to the construction companies,” Crook said. “We wanted to send a signal to them to consider carpooling and increase awareness to the impacts their vehicles have.”
Crook noted that the issues of building heights and mass are long-standing issues of concern in Aspen.
It speaks volumes about living in Aspen when some of the residents’ worst complaints concerned crossing Main Street or picking up after dogs.
Residents have voiced concerns about canines for years, Crook said, and the city has responded by providing poop bags throughout Aspen.
“It’s tough,” Crook said. “People love their dogs, and most try and pick up after their pets as well as keep them on-leash in certain areas. Our trail rangers and community officers are riding a tough line trying to enforce dog laws. We hear both sides, with one saying we need to do more enforcement and the other side saying we’re too aggressive. The bottom line is we’re trying to get people to do the right thing and pay attention to what their pets are doing.”
The city also is aiming to make it safer to cross Main Street, especially in the evening.
“We’ve proposed some ideas and will continue to do so until we find the safest solution,” Crook said. “We recently tried using some low, directed lights in a crosswalk that wouldn’t blind drivers. Some council members liked it; others didn’t.”
Survey respondents also could provide feedback about Aspen services. Of the 95 who chose to include a response, 1 in 4 indicated they would like to see improvements to transportation-related services, such as parking, traffic safety and traffic enforcement for cars, bikes and pedestrians.
“I think the people living here are fairly happy with the services the city provides,” Crook said. “Judging by the survey in the past few years, it would be more of a story if people were unhappy here.”