Voters tell Avon what works
Vail, CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado ” The best things about Avon? Ski slopes and long expanses of wilderness, rivers and lakes are just minutes away.
Recreation is why most people are living in this town at the base of Beaver Creek, and the town is pretty good at accommodating that, according to a community survey completed by 379 full-time homeowners, second-home owners and registered voters.
And what needs the most work?
That hard to grasp and ever elusive “sense of community” ” that feeling that everyone is together and knows each other. Pedestrian paths, parks and trails are highly valued by those who took the survey. Economic development also needs a boost, those who responded said.
“The town of Avon really doesn’t have any sort of tight-knit ski town feel to it. I really enjoy areas like Vail (and even towns like Jackson, WY) where the town somewhat mends with the ski resort,” said one write-in comment on the survey, conducted by Venturoni Surveys and Research, Inc.
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Asked simply to rank the most important issues in Avon over the next five years, those surveyed said that the plans to rejuvenate the downtown area ” which will include building a new “Main Street,” a new parking garage, and hopefully new shops, restaurants and homes ” is the most important.
Affordable housing, acquiring open space and “preservation of small-town character” were also priorities.
Asked what needs improvements, respondents said: Better pedestrian walkways, more parks and trails and businesses.
The survey shows that town leaders have the same priorities. Some of the biggest trouble spots ” like affordable housing and becoming more pedestrian friendly ” are areas the town has been trying to improv.
Redeveloping downtown, creating a new master plan for Nottingham Park and creating affordable housing guidelines have been some of the biggest, most time-consuming projects for the town council and staff.
“It’s a pretty consistent message that you’re on the right track,” said Linda Venturoni at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.
Those surveyed were pleased with police service in Avon. More than 72 percent of voters rated police protection a “4” or “5” on a five-point scale. The police force was visible in the community and responded quickly when needed, the survey said.
Snow removal crews seem to be doing a good job, as more than 76 percent of homeowners, and more than 80 percent of voters, rated snow removal as “good” or “very good.”
Public landscaping, neighborhood road maintenance and recreation facilities also received fairly high approval.
Out of a long list of possible improvements, making it easier to walk around town received the most support. Adding more bike trails was also popular.
“I would like to see the town much more friendly to pedestrians. The roundabouts are good, but difficult for people walking,” said one write-in comment.
Another person said that “additional crosswalks, connecting sidewalks, etc., in areas that make it easier to walk or bike around Avon would be helpful as well.”
The town has made a push in the past year to become more environmentally friendly, and residents want to see more of that. Less than 38 percent of those surveyed said the town was doing a good job reducing its environmental impact, and more than 80 percent of full time homeowners said renewable energy should be a big priority.
More than 70 percent of those surveyed said they’d like to see the town buy hybrid buses.
Around 74 percent of respondents rated “community” as an important value, but only 23 percent said they felt any sense of community.
“One of the biggest challenges for the town will be to increase the sense of community,” Venturoni said.
Affordable housing and economic development were other areas given high priority by those surveyed, but were given low performance ratings.
Around 58 percent of locals and second homeowners said they would like to be able to pay for town services over the computer. About 44 percent said they would like to see bus service to Wal-mart.
Avon seems to be growing at the right pace according to the survey.
Around 35 percent of voters said they were happy with the same rate of growth as present, 24 percent said they wanted to see less growth, and 24 percent said they wanted more growth.
As for those in the extremes, like those wanting no growth at all, were in small numbers.
One section of the survey asked voters, if you had a $100 budget to spend on town services, where would the money go?
Second-home owners would spend the most money in acquiring open space.
Registered voters put the most money in affordable housing.
Full-time homeowners would put most money into parks and trails.
The idea of “preserving small town character” was much more important to second-home owners than it was to full time residents, while schools and early childhood education programs were much more important to full time residents than second home owners.
Affordable housing showed more support from full-time homeowners and voters than second homeowners. Second homeowners were more supportive of increased public transportation and providing more public parking than their local counterparts.
Visit http://www.surveyco.org/avon.html to view the survey results in their entirety and read all the “write-in” comments.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.