Vail Town Survey
TOWN OF VAIL COMMUNITY SURVEY
PREPARED FOR Town of Vail
PREPARED BY RRC Associates
Support Local Journalism
940 Pearl East Circle, Suite 103
Boulder, Colorado 80301
This spring, the Town of Vail conducted a survey of Town residents, absentee property owners and business owners to evaluate opinions on a variety of issues. The purpose of the survey was to evaluate respondents’ level of satisfaction with respect to a full range of community services and to gather opinions on selected issues currently facing the Vail community.
A similar survey had been conducted by the Town for 16 years prior to and including the year 2003. The community survey project was modified in 2004 to an every-other-year cycle.
Identical to the methods used in 2002 and 2003, the Vail Community Survey was conducted primarily by telephone this year. Copies of the survey were also made available at Town Hall and the Vail Library to those who were not called and wanted to participate. The mailback technique resulted in about twice the response this season (34 total returned) than in 2002 and 2003 (less than 15 each year). These results were tabulated, and open-ended comments are included in the reported results, but the quantitative data were not merged with the telephone sample because these self-selected participants would influence the validity of the randomly generated telephone respondents. A random sampling of 404 households 1 received calls during a two-week period between March 26 th and April 8th. Responses were obtained from 302 year-round residents of Vail and 102 second home owners. These quotas were identical to those used in 2002 and 2003, permitting direct comparison with 2005 for identical questions. While comparisons to other past surveys may also be made, keep in mind that in earlier years a variety of data collection methods, including mail surveys and the Internet, were also used. Selected Observations and Key Findings The 2005 survey results indicate that attitudes toward Town government and the direction of the community are generally positive. When compared to various community surveys conducted over the past decade the results are relatively positive overall, and on a number of specific questions that have been asked in the same way over a number of years, the results are higher than in the past. As in past surveys, second home owners continue to be more positive than full time residents in virtually all categories of questions that involve ratings. This finding is important to understanding overall community sentiment and it helps to explain some of the opinions and comments that are obtained when public opinion is solicited. Further, there are some consistent differences among local residents based upon the length of time they have lived in the Town. In general, long-time residents are somewhat more negative than newcomers. Responses to the following questions in particular provide a general assessment of overall community direction:
– When asked if the Town is on the “right track” 70 percent responded favorably (up sharply from 57 percent in 2003), with 19 percent saying “wrong track.” – Respondents were asked to provide, in order of priority, the “two biggest issues facing the Town.” This is a question that has been asked periodically over the years in Vail in an “open ended” format allowing respondents to identify issues in their own words. This year, the largest percentage of respondents identified parking (20 percent) over any other category, with similar response from residents and second homeowners. Further, over twice as many respondents mentioned parking as an important issue than any other single category. After parking, the second tier of identified issues, all receiving about 8 to 10 percent of responses, included the Conference Center, redevelopment, affordable housing and I-70 noise/pollution. Responses since 1999 to this question show that affordable housing has been becoming less of a priority in recent years compared to other issues, with parking and redevelopment issues/initiatives moving ahead of housing as areas of importance. These comments are presented verbatim in the Appendix to this report. – In a new question this year, respondents were asked, “Thinking about the vision for the new Vail, and all the improvements that are occurring, how would you describe your attitude?” About half the respondents (47 percent) were “very excited” and only 10 percent were “not excited.” These results, perhaps more than any others from the survey, portray the generally optimistic and upbeat mood expressed by the Vail community in the spring of 2005. Two new follow-up questions provide additional insight into respondents’ satisfaction with new development. In general, residents and second home owners are satisfied with the “management and communications” regarding new development (45 percent rated their satisfaction 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale). In addition, respondents are generally satisfied with the “quality of new development over the past 3 years,” with 55 percent rating their satisfaction a 4 or 5. In both of these categories, only 5 percent of respondents were “not at all satisfied.” – Ratings of the “sense of community” also showed some positive change this year from the past several years. The percentage that said things had “improved” stayed about the same as in 2003 at 17 percent, but the percentage saying things had “gotten worse” declined to 21 percent from 31 percent. – The ratings of satisfaction with Town staff are relatively high (3.7 on average on a five point scale) and have remained stable over the past four years. Ratings of the Town Council have remained consistently lower than ratings of Town staff; however, despite declining over the past several years (from 3.3 in 2000 to 3.0 in 2003), ratings showed some improvement this year (3.2 average), with 38 percent rating Council a “4” or “5 – Very Satisfied.” Despite this, 23 percent of respondents were generally not satisfied with Council (rated a “1 – Not at all Satisfied” or “2”).
– The open-ended comments are generally more positive than those obtained in past years. While some express frustrations and concerns, there is also positive praise given for Vail as a community and a place to live and recreate. – Parking problems are a recurring theme once again in this year’s community survey as indicated by the ratings responses on parking, the “issues” questions and open-ended comments. These results are similar to, but in some cases more specific in terms of complaints and frustrations, than those obtained in 2003. Overall, there is sentiment that parking remains a problem and that residents and second home owners alike wish to see it addressed. – The Community Survey also included a new series of questions designed to assess community satisfaction with current efforts for each of five major initiatives that Council is committed to undertaking. The survey results show that over one-half of respondents are more than satisfied (rated “4” or “5 – Very satisfied”) with efforts at adding to Vail’s appeal as a great place to live, work and play (average rating of 3.6) and with efforts to facilitate Vail’s redevelopment (3.5 average). Responses were relatively divided on “elevate community leadership,” with about one-third each indicating they are either satisfied, not satisfied or neutral. Finally, satisfaction declined somewhat with “improve the local economy” (2.9 average rating) and “address issues proactively” (2.8 average rating). This suggests that there is some satisfaction within the community, but that there is room for improvement in the areas of leadership, improving the economy, and addressing issues proactively. – In a new series of questions, recreation programs were evaluated. The provision of these services is a topic that has received some local attention in the past year. In general, satisfaction ratings with programming and facilities is high, with average ratings between 3.8 (the lowest rated category, “Adult programs and activities”) and 4.2 (the highest rated “Vail Nature Center”). – In another new question respondents were asked, “What doesn’t Vail have that you would like to see provided?” Only about half (54 percent) of respondents identified an improvement. When the open ended suggestions are quantified the large majority of suggestions fall in the area of recreation (a recreation center) or swimming pool (77 responses; 25 percent of respondents), followed by better or affordable parking (32 responses; 10 percent), a conference center (8 percent) and entertainment and activities for kids/teens (7 percent). While one of the goals of this question was to probe whether there were big new ideas on the minds of the community (i.e. suggestions that had not been discussed or considered), in general the majority of responses fell into categories that have been discussed at various times in the past.