Survey: Aspenites happy with Aspen |

Survey: Aspenites happy with Aspen

Abigail Eagye

Aspen. CO Colorado

ASPEN ” City officials released the results of its citizen survey, a phone survey of 400 Aspen residents over a two-week period in October.

Northwest Survey and Data Services, based in Eugene, Ore., conducted the survey, which the city paid for; the sampling error was plus or minus 4.7 percent.

Among the report’s conclusions:

– People like the community that they live in very much.

– Residents believe they are well-served by city agencies and programs.

– Residents have a high opinion of local government and the services it provides.

– Aspen’s many recreational facilities and programs are well-liked by their users.

– Very few residents of Aspen express negative views.

Topics in the survey ranged from how helpful recreation staff is to satisfaction with various city departments.

Pedestrian and bike paths are the most popular recreation amenity in the city. Ninety percent of survey respondents used them in 2006. Of them, 95 percent found the paths safe, and 93 percent thought they were litter-free.

The survey showed that in 2006, 59 percent of Aspen residents used the Aspen Recreation Center, the “most commonly used recreation facility in the city.”

Among respondents who used the ARC, 91 percent “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement, “I enjoyed my experience at the Aspen Recreation Center.”

Of those who visited the ARC, 89 percent used the aquatic area, and 94 percent agreed with a statement that they enjoyed their experience.

Roughly one third of respondents used facilities at the Red Brick Arts and Recreation Center, and NSDS reported that those “users thought very highly of the staff and related staff services.” Ninety-one percent of the Red Brick’s users agreed or strongly agreed that the programs are “very good.”

Pocket parks were popular with the 64 percent of respondents who used them. Ninety-eight percent agreed or strongly agreed they were able to have “safe and enjoyable” experiences at a park. Ninety-five percent found the parks to be litter-free, while 76 percent found them to be free of dog waste. NSDS calls the 76 percent a “substantial majority,” but it falls short of the city’s goal for 85 percent or more.

NSDS reported that “Aspen residents are generally ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with all 17 services” addressed in the survey.

Although the majority of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with nearly half of those departments, only the Wheeler Opera House, with 87 percent, earned more than the city’s 85 percent target goal.

The report does note, however, that for the “services where a majority of respondents did not give high satisfaction ratings, the main reason was that many respondents (in many cases more than 50 percent) were unable or unwilling to give any rating because they had not had interactions with the department or utilized the service.”

Seventy-four percent were satisfied or very satisfied with the police department; 71 percent with the parks department and the recreation department; 70 percent with the streets department; 69 percent with the city clerk’s department; 63 percent with the transportation department; 57 percent with the water department; 47 percent with the electric department; 46 percent with the environmental health department; 44 percent with the city manager’s department; 41 with the golf department; 38 percent with the housing department; 35 with the Aspen Ice Garden; 35 percent with community development; 34 percent with the engineering department; and 27 percent with Kids First.

Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. For some departments whose combined “satisfied” and “very satisfied” rating might be low, detailed questions about whether service or staff was timely, accurate, helpful and knowledgeable might have met the city’s 85 percent goal.

The housing office, for example, earned 87 and 85 percent agreement from respondents that its staff is timely and accurate, respectively. Eighty-one percent agreed the staff is helpful and knowledgeable.

Despite the report’s statement that “it is common for police departments to receive lower ratings from residents [because] contact with the police often means that the respondent has received a citation,” the Aspen police department’s staff exceeded the 85 percent goal in being helpful, prompt, knowledgeable and accurate.

NSDS reported that women were more likely to be “very satisfied” with services, especially for the police and transportation departments. And new residents generally gave lower ratings for Aspen’s services, regardless of gender.

Participants’ phone numbers were chosen through “random digit dialing of all working telephones in the geographic area of Aspen,” said NSDS President Steve Johnson. Surveyors also asked respondents to say whether they “live in or around the City of Aspen.” Although 100 percent answered “yes,” Johnson said the area actually extended slightly beyond the city’s boundary.

The NSDS report and a complete list of all responses and the exact wording of the survey’s statements are online at, under the link “2006 Citizen Survey Results.”

Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is


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