ACRA downplays survey results
ASPEN The Aspen Chamber Resort Association is downplaying survey results of local businesses that were critical of the organization. The issue with the most extreme numbers concerned the organization itself. Ninety-one percent of respondents said ACRA should be involved representing local businesses at the government level. However, only 4 percent reported that ACRA is doing that job extremely well and 20 percent reported ACRA is doing well. In ACRA’s press release regarding the survey results, issued Thursday, the rating of the organization’s representation at the government level was not mentioned. But, the numbers may need to be taken with a grain of salt. At a Tuesday ACRA board meeting, one businessman reminded the group that the survey only received a 19 percent response rate from the 800-member group. According to the responses, mostly from the professional and real estate categories, business is great in Aspen. Eighty-two percent reported good or excellent business in the last 12 months. The respondents are mostly small, older businesses that have been operating 10 years or more. More than three-quarters of local businesses surveyed by the chamber said transportation is the biggest issue facing the town, though of the 149 businesses that returned surveys, more than 50 percent believe tourism marketing outweighs transportation for the long-term health of their business. Parking, affordable housing and attaining/retaining a skilled work force all showed up as important issues to businesses in the survey. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed favor a new parking garage in Aspen’s core, with a significant majority choosing Wagner Park as the preferred location. However, the majority of respondents believe development should not go unhindered. Sixty-seven percent favored a pacing or lottery construction management system for all types of projects, including residential and affordable housing. Only 22 percent responded that there should be no changes to existing zoning and land-use regulations. Only 40 percent of the respondents are eligible to vote in Aspen elections. That was reflected in some of the responses, including questions regarding the Entrance to Aspen. Eligible voters tended to favor the four lanes with two restricted to buses on a new alignment of Highway 82 at the entrance, and ineligible voters were on the side of a four-lane direct shot with no HOV/bus restrictions.
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After nine months of being shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Wheeler Opera House will reopen for local acts. A touchless reservation system will be open to 53 people for in-person at the venue. Online live streaming also will be available.