Larry Banman: Recreation district survey coming to a West Grand mailbox near you
February 11, 2008
There has been some good news recently regarding the formation of a recreation district in West Grand County. The steering committee that is studying the feasibility of a district was recently successful in obtaining a $5,000 grant from the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.
The money is to be used for technical assistance, and the steering committee is planning to use the funds for an independent community survey. Grand County has also agreed to donate the technical assistance money it receives from NWCCOG for 2007 and 2008 to help with the project.
An accurate survey depends on two things – good questions and good answers.
If either are flawed, the information obtained is of no value. Even worse, poor information can lead to a lot of wasted time and money if it leads people down the wrong path. It is up to the committee to come up with good questions. The trick is to not lead people to answer in a specific way just by the way the questions are worded. All of us have used leading questions like, “You don’t need me to take out the trash do you, honey?” Political surveys are notorious for manufacturing a response to fit a particular political agenda.
The plans at this point are to develop a fairly basic mail-in survey.
I think the tendency when compiling a survey is to try and find out as much information as possible. Many of the overhead costs are virtually the same for any survey and the temptation is to ask a wide variety of questions on a wide variety of topics. I recently completed a survey sponsored by the Grand Foundation. The information regarding quality of life, opinions about growth, transportation issues and senior citizen services will be valuable.
However, I must admit that it took me a while to commit to the mere 10 to 15 minutes that it took to complete the survey.
One of the primary goals of the recreation district steering committee (of which I am a member) is to provide a facility that would serve as a community center, providing space for a wide variety of community services. A recreation district is one vehicle that can be used to provide a regular source of revenue for that goal. The community center would be used for recreation, but there are other options.
On the recreation side, there is the gymnasium and space for a modestly-sized swimming pool. On the community center side, there is the potential for a variety of options.
The survey will ask questions related to the formation of a recreation district as well as to the building of a swimming pool. There will be basic financial information presented to help qualify and quantify the support for both ideas.
There is much to consider. The middle school building is no longer be utilized by the West Grand School District. There are certainly a number of people who would like to see the building sold and the money used by the school district. There are also a number of people who believe the existing building is a valuable asset for community services. At least as long as I moved to town in 1989, there has been interest in a swimming pool. This is the most viable option that I have seen since there was talk of a local Job Corps center in the early 1990s.
The steering committee is not naive about financial issues. There is a limit to what people can and will pay, even for something they desire. Basically, the steering committee is trying to determine if people are interested in a recreation district and/or a swimming pool. If they are, what price can they and will they pay for those services and facilities? The goal is to develop a survey that finds the accurate answers to those questions.
When presented with the survey, take the time to answer the questions thoughtfully and accurately. Inaccurate information does not serve a viable purpose. The information gathered from the survey will help guide the steering committee. If there is an adequate favorable response, there will likely be an ballot question in the near future. If there is an overwhelming negative response, then time and money can be saved by not pursuing the matter any further at this time. The answer may, in fact, be that the community wants a recreation district, just not at this time.
The steering committee has hosted two public meetings with a total of about 50 different people attending. The response at those meetings has been almost unanimously supportive. This survey is another step in finding the pulse of the community.
Do your part by being as accurate as you can with your response.
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