Dillon survey results reflect residents’ opinions on downtown development, amphitheater | SummitDaily.com

Dillon survey results reflect residents’ opinions on downtown development, amphitheater

Visitors shop for local products during Dillon Farmers Market Friday, June 23, on Buffalo Street in Dillon.

The town of Dillon published the results of a pair of surveys conducted this summer at their regular council meeting on Tuesday night, providing town staff and residents with further insight into the town's amenities and recreational opportunities, satisfaction levels with town attributes and challenges moving forward.

The town conducted two separate surveys this year in cooperation with Alpine Insights, including an online survey that ran from Oct. 26 through Nov. 18, along with a random intercept survey from July 6 through Sept. 14 where a team of data collection specialists spoke with individuals at the Dillon Farmers Market, amphitheater, and the Dillon Marina and Park. In total, there were just under 500 respondents to the online survey, in addition to 410 respondents who participated in the intercept survey.

"We typically conduct surveys across the summer to analyze the success of our event programming and satisfaction, and to collect demographic information on who is visiting our town events," said Kerstin Anderson, marketing and communications director for Dillon. "This year we broadened our survey to ask questions specific to visioning for the town, and to get locals and visitors insights into business amenities and recreation they want to see in town. We want to hear from the community to see where we should spend our resources."

Satisfaction

While respondents — about a third of which were Dillon locals — noted widespread satisfaction with most of the town's amenities, there were also areas where residents and visitors alike are looking for improvement.

According to the survey, amenities like the Dillon Farmers Market, Dillon Amphitheatre, Dillon Marina and the events offered by the town are widely popular, pulling in satisfactory rates in excess of 80 percent. A majority of respondents also voiced high satisfaction with the town's police department, public works department and town staff.

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Parking, economic development and workforce housing appeared to be the most pressing topics for residents and guests. In all, 28 percent said they were dissatisfied with the parking situation in Dillon, 26 percent said they weren't happy with the town's economic development policies, and more than 30 percent noted a desire for more workforce housing in town.

Second Homes and Short-Term Rentals

The survey also dove into the demographics behind second-home owners and short-term rentals in town, revealing some surprising numbers.

Nearly half of the respondents said they own an investment property in Dillon, but of those, less than half said they use the property for rentals. Among second-home owners, a majority said they spent at least one month in town a year, while 10 percent said they spent more than six months.

The survey also seems to support Dillon's decision to adopt new a new short-term rental ordinance last month. While more than half of respondents said they approve of short-term rentals in their neighborhoods, over 30 percent noted they had been negatively impacted by rentals in the past. Almost 60 percent of individuals said they support short-term rental regulations, citing parking issues, increased noise levels and occupancy levels as their primary concerns.

Dillon Amphitheatre

One of the most comprehensive parts of the survey had to do with the new and improved Dillon Amphitheatre, and potential changes on the horizon.

More than three quarters of respondents said they attended a concert at the amphitheater this year, and more than half attended a free concert during the week. This year the town offered paid concerts for the first time, and 55 percent of respondents voiced that they support having paid concerts on Fridays or Saturdays to bring in more high profile acts.

"Of course coming off our first season with the amphitheater, we wanted to make sure the majority were satisfied with it," said Anderson. "We have had success with bringing in tried and true bands that everyone loves. But we're also seeing a lot of interest in nationally known acts, and understanding what people want to have will help us make decisions about paid concerts, and when those should land."

Anderson noted that free concerts were integral to Dillon's programming options, and won't be going anywhere, though community support could lead to continued paid concerts at the venue.

Additionally, the community voiced support for new pre-show gate and lawn policies, with almost 60 percent of respondents saying they'd like new rules implemented for when the gates open, and when visitors can set out lawn chairs or blankets the day of concerts.

The survey also highlighted the type of programming people want to see, with classic rock, country and bluegrass music leading the votes. But residents also voiced that they'd enjoy other types of programming such as comedy shows, plays and lectures in the future.

Identity

The surveys also touched more broadly on the town's identity, collecting responses in regard to the town's core, challenges to growth and what people feel the town should be focusing its resources on.

Respondents said that sustaining Dillon's small-town character was the biggest challenge in the town's development, along with finding an appropriate mix of commercial entities in the town core. Sixty percent of respondents said that creating a more vibrant town core should be Dillon's primary focus, identifying a diversity of restaurants and better connectivity for walking and biking as keys to supporting that goal.

Moving Forward

Town staff and Alpine Insights will be working over the coming weeks to further analyze the data collected from the surveys, which will be used by the town council as a tool to help make policy decisions in the future. The council also approved another survey next year for the sake of comparison.

"We're going to be digging in deeper to some of these comments," said Anderson. "This is a sounding board for the council. These are our priorities, and we're hearing them echoed in the community."

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