Life in Aspen is good, survey says |

Life in Aspen is good, survey says

ASPEN ” Life in Aspen is good.

So says the city of Aspen’s 2007 annual citizen survey in which the majority of respondents ” 61 percent ” said the quality of life here is excellent.

The survey results are a consumer report card for City Hall and will be used in the future by city officials as Aspen grows and changes.

In September, City Hall mailed surveys to 1,200 people but only 347 residents responded, which is a 32 percent return rate and is considered normal by city officials. They had hoped for 400 respondents.

City Hall paid $10,547 to Boulder-based National Research Center Inc. to conduct the survey. That’s about $2,000 less than what City Hall paid last year for a similar survey, which was conducted over the phone.

Research shows that a mailed survey provides more candid responses, a higher response rate and creates less annoyance among residents. Overall, there were few differences in the results from 2006 compared to this year.

Aspen ranked above the norm in that the majority rated overall quality of life as excellent or good. The majority of respondents reported that they were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with overall city services, again ranking Aspen above the national norm, according to researchers.

That means most residents agree that streets are maintained well, snow removal is on par and customer service within City Hall is satisfactory. The Aspen Police Department had the highest agreement that customer service was above satisfactory.

Services and facilities at the city’s recreation centers also appear to meet the satisfaction of most city residents, the survey showed. However, more than half of the respondents said they wanted outdoor pools at the Aspen Recreation Center, and expanded cardio and weight equipment. The majority of respondents said they enjoyed the ARC’s indoor pool amenities.

And those who want improvements to the ARC’s facilities agreed that they would pay higher use fees, according to the survey results.

The majority of people said they feel safe in Aspen, except when they are crossing Main Street. Only six out of 10 people said they felt safe crossing the major thoroughfare. In general, people surveyed feel safe in their neighborhoods and downtown, with the daytime being the safest, they said.

City residents overall are happy with the condition of Aspen’s parks, athletic fields and trails. However, the majority of residents believe there is too much dog poop in the parks.

Those surveyed also are content with the Wheeler Opera House operations. They also were asked if they would support renewing the sales tax that funds affordable housing and daycare; 80 percent said they would support it.

All registered voters in Aspen were eligible to take the survey. A random sample of 1,100 individuals were selected from the list of active voters ” those who had voted in the May 2007 election. And 100 were taken from the recently inactive voters, those who had not voted in the May 2007 election but had voted in the election prior to that.

The majority of respondents own homes in Aspen ” 72 percent versus 28 percent, who are renters. Sixty-five percent have lived in Aspen more than 10 years and 24 percent of them make between $50,000 and $75,000. Another 20 percent make between $100,000 and $150,000. It was an almost even split between respondents who live in free-market vs. affordable housing ” 49 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

Only 1 percent of those surveyed were Latino; 98 percent of the respondents were white. Fifty-two percent of them hold bachelor’s degrees. As far as ages, 24 percent were between 25 and 34 years old and another 24 percent were between 45 and 54. Males comprised 51 percent of the respondents; 49 percent were female.

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