Finding the sweet spot in a community survey from the town

What about the bar-flies?

By Mark Reaman

Crested Butte Town Council members spent more than an hour at a May 21 work session discussing how to best frame questions for a broad community survey. The town hopes to release the survey to the general public in June and give people about 90 days to participate. The goal is to obtain at least 1,000 responses and get a feel for what the community wants for its future.

The survey idea came from the community development department and is meant to be used as “an important community tool that will guide our discussions for future planning,” wrote department head Michael Yerman in a memo to the council.

A sample survey was compiled by the staff and members of the council. Members of the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) and the Crested Butte Creative District were asked to take the 20-question poll on Survey Monkey. Council went over the specific questions and had issues with some phrasing and focus.

For example, one of the first questions, “What best describes your lifestyle and aspirations living here in Crested Butte?” included answers such as “Outdoor Enthusiast,” “Professional Career,” and “Creative.” It also included the categories “Ski Bum,” “Bar-fly,” and “Peter Pan.” Council didn’t like those last options, seeming to indicate they felt those choices were too flippant and not professional.

“We were trying to capture that lifestyle sentiment in a lighthearted way,” explained town manager Dara MacDonald.

“It just doesn’t come across as professional,” said councilman Kent Cowherd. “Maybe you keep ski bum and that seems to me to cover the bar-fly and Peter Pan categories.”

Council spent another chunk of time on the topic, delving into similar issues such as whether those living in the valley or those living in more mainstream places live in the “real world,” and the importance of determining whether someone actually physically worked within the town boundaries.

“The point is to get information that helps drive public policy,” emphasized Yerman.

Bottom line is that the town staff was sent back to tweak the questions that will be part of the survey.

The survey will touch on topics such as affordable housing, direction with economic development, traffic and parking, and managing future growth. Another review of the survey questions will be held at the June 4 Town Council meeting. From there, the survey will be put online at Survey Monkey on the town’s website and will be available in hard copy form at various places around town such as coffee shops.

The survey will be open to anyone (except apparently bar-flies and Peter Pans) with an emphasis on north valley residents, second-home owners and visitors. It should take about ten minutes to complete and will be available through the summer.

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