Avon survey: Residents want more affordable housing, transparency
The Town Council will review the results of its community survey at its Tuesday meeting
Over the summer, Avon has been asking residents to help drive the future of the town with its community survey.
“(I’m) really excited about this, I think it’s going to be a great tool,” Town Manager Eric Heil said at a review of the survey at the April 27 Town Council meeting. “I think the fact that we were able to bring it in house and do it more affordably, more efficiently, more refined and sophisticated, I think is a huge step for Avon and its citizen engagement.”
Ultimately, the town received just over 900 completed surveys, nearly three times as many as similar surveys conducted in 2015 and 2018. The questions ranged from inquiries around police presence and what improvements the town should make to questions about housing, transportation and the town’s amenities.
All survey results are being reviewed at this week’s Town Council meeting Tuesday starting at 5:05 p.m. These meetings are being conducted both in person, at Avon Town Hall, and virtually via Zoom beginning at 5 p.m.
Demographically speaking, the survey respondents were largely Avon residents or property owners (72.1%), with the majority (71.4%) being full-time residents of the town. Out of those that responded, 19.7% rented in Avon and 19.7% own property in the town. The majority (35.1%) live in Wildridge, followed by the town core between Avon Road and the Rec Center (12.4%), Nottingham Park (11%), West Avon (10.7%), Hurd Lane and Eagle Bend (9.9%), with the rest of the neighborhoods rounding out the responses. Most respondents were between 36 and 65 years of age.
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In the meeting’s packet, Elizabeth Wood, the town’s communications and marketing manager, identifies several areas of “community consensus” and “high-level observations” among those who took the survey.
These include the existence of strong support for Avon to implement the Climate Action Plan, support for electric vehicles and e-bikes, a desire for the town to prioritize investments in community housing, overall satisfaction of local police, satisfaction with Nottingham Park, support for full-service restrooms as well as a continuation of the current open container rules at Nottingham Park.
While a large majority of the questions were multiple choice or questions on a sliding scale, the town did give residents the opportunity to write in comments, suggestions and questions regarding the town. While residents could write in under each category, there were also a few open-ended questions, which elicited a large volume of responses.
Areas of improvement
One of these open-ended questions asked residents and respondents what the single most important aspect was that the town could improve. The 814 responses to this question varied quite a bit, however, there were a few trends within the answers.
Many respondents expressed concerns about housing, particularly affordable housing for the local workforce. In another question, only 23.6% of respondents felt that there were sufficient housing opportunities for locals in Avon. 73.8% felt that it was important for the town to prioritize the investment in community housing.
Many respondents pointed blame at short-term rentals for the lack of long-term rentals, while others expressed concern that more families and employees will leave Avon should the problem remain unresolved.
The town is attempting to address community housing with a tax question on the upcoming November ballot. Voters are being asked to approve a 2% short-term rental tax to fund future community housing plans, projects and purchases.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Town Council will present the rental tax ordinance for its first reading. The ordinance would only become enacted should Avon voters approve the tax. The discussion of this ordinance is scheduled to start at 7:35 p.m.
Additional comments about improvement in Avon were about the town’s development. Many made comments about the town’s lack of a “town center” or “downtown experience.” One comment said that the town “lacks the appeal and quaintness of other ski towns.” Many of these responses made requests for a core business area and more business in general, particularly more restaurants and retail shops.
On the other side of the comments, some respondents urged against overdevelopment, stating that the town has “lost its laidback charm” and “small town feel.”
One respondent wrote, “We should be planning for growth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean adding new developments. Let’s work with what we have and improve or reset those things first.”
Additionally, there were comments from many on this question with regard to the Avon government and Town Council. At the start of the survey, 28.1% of respondents said they were often or sometimes satisfied with the Town Council and 26% said they were often or sometimes dissatisfied.
Many of the responses about improvement asked for the council to engage and listen more to residents, with one citing a “disconnect between the Town Council and Avon citizens.”
One respondent wrote, “Hopefully this survey will help give direction to the town council. The town needs a clear direction which is community driven.”
A few of the respondents specifically spoke to the town’s “spending habits,” with requests for them to not “waste taxpayers’ money,” and stop making “expensive decisions.”
Some made requests for more neutrality when it comes to the council’s decision making. One respondent wrote, “Council members who show bias in decision making is not good.” A few asked for more professionalism from council members.
Additional areas of improvement from this question of the survey included safety improvements for bikers and pedestrians, the need for more parking, mail delivery to homes, municipal broadband and more.
The survey asked a number of questions about Nottingham Park and Nottingham Lake, including questions about its current use, value and programming as well as ways it could be improved. The majority of respondents (33.9%) said they use the park one to four days a month, with 30.4% using it one to 10 days a year and 21.8% using it two to four days a week.
While the town has already made improvements to the park, it is continuing to look forward for improvements. Respondents identified their top five specific areas of improvement or facilities, which included full-service restrooms in the north area of the park, improved parking and pedestrian safety on West Beaver Creek Boulevard, more food and beverage services, additional restrooms on the east side of the park and an expanded beach area.
In respondents’ comments about the park, many expressed their gratitude for the park’s amenities and others requested additional amenities including a skate park, a beer garden, more live concerts, a fenced dog area, a farmers market and more. However, many comments expressed concern about parking and the lack of permanent restrooms as well as a number of concerns about dogs and dog waste in the park.
The Town Council is intending to review this summer’s operation of the park and identify the potential for improvements Tuesday. This is a separate conversation from the survey’s results.
According to the report in the packet, written by Heil, “It is an appropriate time to take a look at the remainder of Nottingham Park to identify any other details or improvements that should be considered in an effort to ‘complete’ the park with a uniform, high-quality design from one end to the other.”
He added that this discussion and the list of improvement areas “is an invitation for additional input on any other details, improvements or designs that should be considered in Nottingham Park.”
Council is scheduled to begin this discussion at 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.