Council hosts second survey meeting tonight

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— Residents of Steamboat Springs have a chance to share their hopes and concerns for the community Monday night when City Council hosts the second in a series of three neighborhood meetings.

Tonight's meeting will be held from 7 to 9 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Steamboat Boulevard. The meeting is meant specifically for members of City Council District III, but people from all over the city are welcome and encouraged to attend. Councilman Paul Strong and Councilwoman Kathy Connell will be there, and other elected officials are likely to be in the audience.

People who attend the meeting will see a brief presentation on the results of the poll, then break up into four discussion regroups, before reconvening for a wide open exchange of ideas. The first meeting was held May 1 and drew about 40 people from Council District I.

"Did you really mean what you said?" And, "What do you want City Council to do about it ?" were the questions City Manager Paul Hughes asked the gathering last week. He said the City Council and city staff are vitally interested in how members of the community themselves interpret the results of the survey.

City officials were bowled over last fall when the results of the Steamboat Springs Community survey came pouring in. It wasn't so much the results of the survey, but the size of the response that first caught their attention.

More than 1,500 people took the time to check more than 130 boxes in response to the questions on the survey. That comes out to about a 12 percent response rate, almost unheard of in community polling.

"That is a very big return and, statistically, an excellent sample," City Manager Paul Hughes said Friday.

Technically, the community survey was not a scientific poll because the the types of questions asked made it difficult to compute a percentage margin of error, Hughes said. However, he noted that, in many cases, the responses broke along lines that were remarkably similar to those in a statewide poll recently conducted by the Gates Foundation. That survey was based on a much smaller sample of the population.

Hughes said the local surveys were mailed out to every postal address in the city and every property owner, including some out-of-town property owners. Of the total, 73 percent said they were permanent residents of the city.

In the survey, people were asked to indicate the level of their approval or disapproval; agreement or disagreement with a variety of issues, statements and questions. They indicated their choice by filling in boxes. But many people took advantage of the invitation to write down thoughtful opinions on the issues that concerned them most.

Hughes said it was his original intent to publish all of the comments in the printed version of the survey. However, he needed two hours to get through the first 70 surveys and realized that goal wouldn't be possible. Instead, all of the comments were compiled in three large three-ring binders. They will be available for review at tonight's meeting. The survey results were published in a special insert to Steamboat Today and the Steamboat Pilot. Additional copies will be available at the meeting.

To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210 or e-mail tomross@amigo.net

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