Community survey: Residents love Avon
AVON — The Town Council seems to know its community pretty well.
After hearing a breakdown of their community survey Tuesday night from Brian Sanderoff, of Research & Polling Inc., the Avon Town Council found that the results justified a recently completed walkability study taken on by the town and mesh well with the council’s strategic plan for 2016-17.
The community hasn’t seen a survey like this in eight years, and the last survey received a much lower response rate. Sanderoff said of 3,937 surveys mailed out, 628 were mailed back — a response rate of 17 percent. An additional 100 telephone interviews were completed for a total of 728 surveys finished, or a 20 percent response rate. To get into the survey, one had to qualify by either being an Avon homeowner, renter or business owner.
“I feel good about the 728,” Sanderoff said. “It wasn’t a survey of every adult, it was a survey of every household.”
One of the major takeaways from the survey, Sanderoff said, was the fact that governing bodies do not usually receive such high marks for the services they provide. On a five-point scale, 86 percent of those surveyed said the quality of life was excellent (5) or very good (4) in Avon, and only 3 percent surveyed gave the lowest scores.
“Who was most likely to say excellent? It turned out to be the Hispanics and renters, which I thought was interesting,” Sanderoff said. “That’s a little unusual from what we might find typically.”
On the five-point scale, 29 percent of those who responded gave 4 and 5 marks to creating a town convention center and year-round meeting space like the one detailed in a town hall relocation plan turned down by voters earlier this year. Ideas for a parking structure and dog park proposals saw 36 percent of respondents score them a 4 or a 5. On transportation and transit issues, 71 percent of the respondents rated connecting biking and multi-use paths as a 4 or a 5, and 66 percent gave those scores to connecting sidewalks.
Town Manager Virginia Egger commended the council on sensing the transit priorities in the community. The town this summer contracted with a company called Blue Zones, which studied walkability in town. The conclusions of that study state, among other things, that Avon should concentrate on improving the safety and operation of Avon Road and integrate walkability, bikeability and placemaking into the redesign of West Beaver Creek Boulevard.
In Avon’s strategic plan for 2016-17, which the council will be examining at its Oct. 13 meeting, a major outcome to “develop inclusive and diverse economic, educational and cultural opportunities” has been identified. Within that outcome, a top priority is to update the Avon Trails Plan to provide a comprehensive, prioritized soft and hard trails plan, including trail connectivity.
“Certainly, the strategic plan is really interesting now, in how much you got right,” Egger said. “How much you know is impressive, to me, about what you believe the town should be investing in.”
BIG DECISIONS ON TAP
The survey also seemed to back up the broad suggestion offered by the community in a referendum from Jan. 20, where voters said no to financing the purchase of a new town hall building, which would have also been used as a convention center and year-round meeting space. Of the 10 ideas presented in the survey that could improve the qualify of life in Avon, the convention center and year-round meeting space idea received the least amount of support.
The town recently received the results of a feasibility study on the current town hall, which said, basically, that the building is inadequate.
The town’s 2016-17 strategic plan identifies a major outcome to “provide a responsive, cutting-edge and effective government,” with the top priority there being “determine location(s), costs and financing plans for the town hall and police department.”
The costs and possible funding options for such a plan are not currently included in the town’s long-range capital improvement projects budget.
In the coming months, the council is expected to make a decision on the 2016-17 strategic plan, the 2016-17 budget and whether or not to move forward with an idea to construct a new joint public safety facility to which the Avon Police Department would relocate. The next meeting is Oct. 13.