Midvalley: No train, secession | AspenTimes.com

Midvalley: No train, secession

Midvalley residents aren’t interested in building a commuter train, nor do they want to leave Eagle County, according to results of a recent survey.

A poll of 300 people in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County also found that they support the idea of setting up a special district to enhance recreational opportunities but are somewhat skeptical of funding it.

Eagle County government paid a Denver firm called Ridder/Braden Inc. to perform the poll. Interviews were conducted with 300 registered voters in the Basalt, El Jebel and Missouri Heights areas between July 26 and Aug. 2. The margin of error was 5.7 percent.

County Manager Jack Ingstad said results will be shared with the county commissioners and staff, as well as committees planning land use, transit issues and the future of the Mt. Sopris Tree Farm.

“I would caution people that it’s a snapshot in time,” said Ingstad of the poll. “Opinions change.” Rail isn’t popular Right now the poll shows rail isn’t very popular in the midvalley. When asked if a commuter rail line should be built from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, 25 percent of respondents said they were strongly in favor and 13 percent said they are somewhat in favor. Another 44 percent said they are strongly against and 9 percent are somewhat against. Nine percent had no opinion or refused to answer.

Benjamin Kupersmit, director of research for Ridder/Braden, said there are obviously strong opinions on both sides of the issue. However, rail appears to be a tough sell in the midvalley since 44 percent are solidly against building a commuter train, he said.

Respondents voiced their opposition to the train even though growth and public transportation were identified as the top two concerns.

Midvalley residents were asked, “What would you say is the most important issue facing your community that you would like to see your local leaders address?”

Growth came out the clear winner at 33 percent. It was followed by public transportation at 17 percent and affordable housing with 10 percent. Traffic concerns tallied another 7 percent.

Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens said the survey left a key question unanswered: Do midvalley residents support improvements to the transit corridor even if they don’t support rail? Secession doesn’t fly The survey showed that a citizen group exploring whether to split from Eagle County would face an uphill battle if it proceeds.

Among the 300 respondents, half were asked if they support leaving Eagle County for Garfield County and half were asked if they would leave Eagle for Pitkin County.

Both ideas were soundly rejected. Joining Garfield County fell 53 percent to 32 percent. Pitkin County was even less popular with 61 percent opposing the idea of joining and 32 percent in support.

Forming a new county in the Roaring Fork Valley also fell by a wide margin, with 50 percent against and 36 in support.

The remainder of the respondents on each question didn’t answer.

“It’s not just opposition, it’s strong opposition,” said Kupersmit. Mixed rec message The survey’s message wasn’t quite so clear when it came to recreational facilities.

Respondents indicated there are generally enough recreational opportunities, but they would support creation of a district to enhance recreation. The electorate would be supportive but somewhat skeptical of extra taxes for recreation.

Respondents said ample opportunities already exist for biking, baseball or softball, soccer and tennis.

Ironically, respondents were most supportive of adding opportunities for two of the more expensive recreational activities.

“While voters are generally satisfied with opportunities for recreation and outdoor activities – 64 percent say there are `enough’ opportunities – there is strong interest in seeing an indoor pool and an ice rink available in the community,” Kupersmit wrote in his survey summary.

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