‘Quality of life’ keeps folks in Eagle | VailDaily.com

‘Quality of life’ keeps folks in Eagle

Kathy Heicher
Coreen Sapp/Vail DailyA survey of people who live in Eagle, shown above, showed a strong sense of community along with criticism of the business climate.

There’s quite a few conclusions that can be drawn from the recently-completed Eagle community survey.Eagle is a fast-growing family town, which nearly doubled in population between 1990 and 2000. Trends indicate that 48 percent of the households are families with school-age children. Many of these families are relatively new to town – over 40 percent of the survey’s respondents said they have lived in Eagle for less than five years.”Quality of life” is the biggest factor that attracts these new residents and keeps long-time residents living here. Many survey respondents listed the family-oriented nature of the community, and the somewhat more affordable aspects (compared to upvalley communities) of Eagle as reasons for living here.That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Survey respondents raised some red flags about the appearance of the town, the need for more arts and culture, lack of shopping opportunities, the health of the central business district and the local economy.”We want you to use the survey,” Linda Venturoni, director of special projects for the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, told the Eagle Town board at a recent meeting. The Council of Governments performed the survey for the town. The purpose of the survey was to provide the town with reliable that data that can be used by government decision makers to establish priorities. The data should also prove valuable in development of land-use plans, assessing the local economy and answering citizen concerns.”It helps us judge how we’re doing,” observed Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney, “There’s a lot of rumors that go around. We hear the squeaky wheels more than positive statements.”

A total of 2,055 surveys were mailed out to a random sampling of citizens whose names were drawn from voter registration and county assessor lists. All business license holders also received a survey. Some 590 surveys were returned. The survey consisted 34 general questions and Venturoni said survey answers indicated a strong sense of community among respondents. High scores for quality of life were consistent throughout all neighborhoods, and for both new and old residents and everyone in-between. Survey respondents indicated that not only do they like Eagle, they are also planning on staying here for at least five or 10 years.Scenery, recreation, water quality and quantity, the local economy, town services and education all ranked high on a question about community values question. Survey respondents indicated that their preferred forms of recreation include walking, jogging, alpine skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, mountain biking, swimming, golf and fishing.The Council of Governments has asked questions about quality of life and sense of community in other mountain resort communities. About 60 percent of Eagle respondents listed “quality of life” and “sense of community” as the reason they lived for. By comparison, only 20 to 30 percent of respondents in Silverthorne and Dillon gave the same answer. “Eagle got a very high score – the highest we’ve ever recorded,” Venturoni said. “That is amazing in light of the growth, and differences of opinion between new and old residents,”

While the survey revealed what people like about Eagle, it also highlighted some of the town’s deficiencies.Questions regarding where citizens do their shopping revealed a lot of what economists call “leakage” – that is, money that leaves town. While 80 to 88 percent of the respondents indicated they buy their groceries and prescriptions in Eagle, they head out of town – to Avon, Glenwood Springs or Denver – for items such as clothing, hardware and building supplies, medical care, home furnishings, sports equipment and office supplies.When questioned about the business climate, citizens called for more promotion and marketing of the town and its amenities, improvement of the physical appearance of commercial areas, and improvement in communications between the town and the local business community.In written comments, citizens repeatedly called for improvements to buildings in the central business district and upgrades to the entrances of town and along Grand Avenue.The lowest ratings on the survey went to town communications with citizens, neighborhood road maintenance, handling of citizen complaints, land use planning and zoning, and code enforcement.Kathy Heicher is the editor of the Eagle Valley Enterprise. She can be reached at kheicher@CMNM.org.Vail Colorado

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