Carbondale survey: keep town’s character | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale survey: keep town’s character

Gregory Conroy
Carbondale correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” Preservation of small-town character, affordable housing, traffic issues and growth management top the list of major concerns for Carbondale residents and business owners, according to the results of a recent Carbondale Community Survey.

The survey results were presented at Tuesday night’s trustee work session. A total of 736 surveys were tallied ” 414 surveys were returned from Carbondale homeowners, 86 from business owners, and a total of 236 surveys were returned from registered voters and other locals.

One apparent trend among the responses was the difference in values expressed by residents who have been in Carbondale for an extended period of time versus those residents who are fairly new to the area.

According to the survey, residents who fit into the one- to two-year category for residency found “preserving small-town character” to be the most important concern, while “public safety” was less important.

Residents in the 11-to-20-years category had similar feelings regarding small-town character, while residents living in Carbondale in the 21-to-30-years category said that “growth management” and “slow growth policies” were of paramount importance, and were more likely to view public safety as a key concern.

When it comes to affordable housing, business owners and renters tended to show more support for affordable housing programs, while homeowners offered the least support.

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And, in terms of assessing how the community is doing in regard to addressing the affordable housing issue, all respondent groups gave the effort a low rating.

Low marks also came in the areas of traffic, K-12 education, cultural integration, public safety, health-care services, economic health and the town’s appearance.

Meanwhile, the town got high marks in assessing areas such as air quality, scenic/visual quality, water quality, parks and trails, recreational opportunities, arts and culture, and “sense of community.”

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, who was one of the presenters of the data to the Board of Trustees Tuesday, said that the question of whether the population is growing to quickly is an intriguing one because it is a matter of perception.

Ireland said the question is “like driving a car without a speedometer,” suggesting that there’s not a lot of background data on most of the people who answered the question to determine the reasons for their conclusions.

The survey results indicate the growth issue seemed to be of more importance, the longer a respondent had lived in Carbondale. Residents living in Carbondale longer than 30 years also felt that the “loss of the middle class” was the most important issue.

“Public education” was of paramount importance to residents of Carbondale in the three- to five-year range, while “loss of middle class” seemed to be of much less importance.

“Traffic mobility and circulation” was consistently a top issue among all the resident groups, along with “preservation of open space” and “environmental protection.”

The survey showed some noticeably different responses to the question of why people came to Carbondale depending on their length of residency.

Residents living in Carbondale from one to 10 years all said that the “small town atmosphere” was their primary reason for coming to Carbondale, while residents in the 11-20 year category felt that “scenery and surroundings” were the main reason, with “small town atmosphere” a close second.

Residents in the 31-plus year category also felt that scenery and surroundings was their No. 1 reason for moving to Carbondale.

Recreational amenities was also very high on the list for all the groups, but residents in the one- to two-years category showed the strongest affinity for recreation programs. Reasons like “rental income” and “cheaper than other mountain resorts” appeared to be of the least importance for all groups.

“Employment opportunities” proved rather low for each group, while other things like “air” and “water quality” and “friendliness of community” proved to be prominent reasons for people moving to Carbondale.

Tuesday night’s presentation of the survey data also confirmed that while Carbondale’s population continues to grow at an arguably alarming rate, the community can expect to see new and different opinions on what people in the community value the most.

The complete survey results are posted on the town’s website, at http://www.carbondalegov.org.

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