Thursday, September 22, 2005
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs residents enjoy living in a small town with open space and recreational opportunities, and they want to see more done about those priorities, according to a community survey.
The 2005 community survey is available for checkout at City Hall and is on the city's Web site at www.steamboatspri.... For more information, call Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord at 871-8219.
City Council members learned this week the results of the survey, which was conducted by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.
In the four-page survey, 1,083 respondents answered 127 questions, including their favorite Steamboat Springs events and where they would allocate taxpayer money if given the chance. The results included about 150 pages of write-in responses.
City Council member Susan Dellinger said she was happy that the survey results were available before the city's budget hearing next month.
In the survey, respondents said the most important issues facing Steamboat Springs in the next five years are preservation of small-town character and growth management. Business owners also were concerned about a healthy economy, and voters wanted to see more affordable housing.
About three-fourths of respondents said they would like to see a slower or equal rate of growth in the future. Of those, about 40 percent of homeowners and voters said they would like to see less growth.
When asked how they would allocate $100 of taxpayer revenue, homeowners wanted to give to the preservation of open space, voters gave the most to providing affordable housing, and business owners were most interested in affordable housing and a full-service recreational center.
Although people were willing to give money to affordable housing, they did not list it as one of their top priorities.
That surprised City Council President Paul Strong, who said affordable housing is considered to be a big issue in Steamboat Springs.
"Those living in other mountain communities realized the problems that (not having affordable housing) can cause," Strong said. "It's a matter of time before they occur here."
Strong said he was sorry to see that child care was not a priority for people who filled out the survey.
"It's definitely an issue in our valley, but people don't tend to realize that unless you have small children," he said.
For many issues, respondents said they supported an amenity, but they weren't willing to pay for it.
"I'm kind of surprised that they're not willing to pay for what they are asking for," Dellinger said.
She said she was pleased to see the results showing that the majority of people enjoy most of the city's special events. Events that ranked the highest include the Nordic Combined World Cup, the Free Summer Concert Series and Art in the Park.
Dellinger said the results make her think that the city should have more events that are short term but bring in a fair amount of money, such as car or motorcycle races.
Strong thought it was positive that the city ranked well when it came to basic services such as snow removal and fire and police service.
But that doesn't mean city officials should be lazy, he said.
"We should be happy, but not complacent, with the results."
Strong said that the council is working on many of the issues ranking as high priorities that aren't being met, which include traffic and affordable housing.
"We understand that traffic is an issue," he said. He hopes to encourage alternative forms of transportation, such as taking the bus or walking, but Americans are living in an automobile-driven society, he said.
Strong said the city is just beginning to address affordable housing.
"We are just starting to hit our stride on that."