Discoveries

Participation

The Vision 2030 committee is confident that participants represent an accurate sample set of Routt County’s demographics. A total of more than 1,600 people, approximately 7% of Routt County’s total population and 11% of all county households, participated in the two-year process. More than 1,200 people completed the survey that was distributed online and in hard copy format. This was almost five times more than the number of people who responded to the Vision 2020 survey. To ensure diverse participation, the Vision 2030 committee encouraged input in surveys and at community gatherings, appealed to personal contacts and made presentations to “affinity” groups such as service organizations, school district employees, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Participants were almost equally divided between men and women. Most were between 30-60 years old and had lived in Routt County for more than 10 years. The lack of participation in the 20-29 year age range is representative of the age shift in Routt County to an older demographic. Residents from all across Routt County and from a wide range of occupations participated on the Vision 2030 process.

As the Vision 2030 process continued over two years, it gained momentum, attracting new participants on the committee, in focus groups and at community gatherings. At the final community gatherings in November 2008, more than 40% of the attendees had not previously participated in the Vision 2030 process and overwhelmingly agreed with the earlier survey and gathering findings.

Pie charts detailing the demographics in percentages of participants in different age groups, length of time in Routt County, and which part of the county they reside in.

Occupation pie chart


WHAT WE HEARD

In its role as a steering committee, Vision 2030’s responsibility was to gather comments from community members and relay that information back to the community, decision-makers and elected officials. The process gave opportunity to everyone who chose to participate. The Vision 2030 Citizens’ Committee agenda encompassed three components:

  • Review the Vision 2020 First Report of Recommendations
  • Identify our community’s heart and soul (what do we value)
  • Define recommendations to ensure values are preserved
Vision 2020 review

A subcommittee reviewed the 1994 Vision 2020 report to discuss the successes and challenges from the past 15 years. Focus groups within this subcommittee recommended further development on several items for the eight report categories. Vision 2030 focus groups then used these suggestions along with new data obtained from surveys and gatherings to help define desired outcomes and recommended actions.

The Vision 2020 process led to successful formation of several citizen-led initiatives:

  • First Impressions of Routt County – a nonprofit organization that supports early childhood education
  • Purchase of Development Rights – a program that helps landowners use conservation easements to protect their land from development
  • Routt County Open Lands Plan – furthers open space needs
  • Yampa Valley Recycles – a county-wide recycling effort

In addition, the Community Agriculture Alliance, Yampa Valley Partners, Yampa Valley Land Trust and expanded medical services at Yampa Valley Medical Center all were inspired partly because individuals championed causes of interest recognized by Vision 2020. The report also helped several nonprofit organizations and the City of Steamboat Springs procure more than $25 million in grants for open space, trails, education, historic preservation and transportation. The City of Steamboat Springs uses the Vision 2020 report as a gauge for determining if city goals are in line with community desires.

Survey question: What do we value? Bar graph showing the top three answers from respondents to this question for each area of Routt County.
Complete responses to the survey and polling results from the community gatherings are available at: Vision 2030 Routt

What we value

Survey respondents and gatherings participants clearly stated that they value a close-knit, friendly and caring community that is safe, values families and diversity, and takes pride in its Western and historic heritage. They overwhelmingly identified preserving community character and concerns about changing economic development patterns as the top priorities they would like to see addressed in the next 20 years. Community character was mainly identified with a sense of community and small town feel, while changing economic development patterns primarily referred to managing growth. Community respondents also identified the environment as the most important community character, while affordable housing is considered the most threatened.

To ensure that the Vision 2030 committee had identified the top priorities for what the community wanted to preserve in the next 20 years, the group took the findings back to county residents for additional input at four countywide gatherings in November 2008. Facilitators described scenarios about the characteristics of managing growth and community character based on desired outcomes identified by focus groups. Again, participants at these gatherings overwhelmingly agreed that these characteristics are of utmost importance to preserve.

Responses from November 2008 community gatherings ranking item as “Very Important” or “Utmost Importance”

  • Sustainable economy (92%)
  • Community character (89% very important/utmost importance)
  • Sense of community (89%)
  • Family friendliness (86%)
  • Managing growth (83%)
  • Transportation (85%)
  • Housing patterns (83%)
  • Heritage (79%)
The Vision 2030 survey listed 21 aspects of the community and asked respondents to describe them as most, somewhat, or not important/ threatened. The ten most common responses listed for most important and most threatened are listed in this bar graph.

The 2008 survey asked: In 20 years, what would you like to see? We heard many common phrases, like “small-town feel,” “growth,” and “open space.” This graphic divides the most frequently heard phrases and concepts into five thematic groups representing the primary comments received in responses. The five thematic groups are broken into smaller groups that identify specific qualities that respondents hoped to see in 20 years.
Pie chart of the five thematic groups, broken into smaller groups that identify specific qualities that respondents hoped to see in 20 years.


Respondents who suggested ways to preserve those things that we value and hope to see in 20 years identified managing growth as the top priority. Themes below are listed by frequency of comments received. Since all comments that relate to a specific category were included regardless of the respondent’s stance, some suggestions will reflect opposite perspectives.
Survey question: What should be done to ensure that what you hope to see, feel, or experience is still here in twenty years?

THEME COMMENTS RECEIVED
Manage growth Promote density in city/town centers, encourage affordable housing, ban big boxes, encourage growth of tourism and businesses, encourage full-time residency through taxes, improve analysis of development impacts, limit home size, ban chains, restrict building height, encourage lower density, enforce zoning
Preserve open space Conservation easements, preserve Emerald Mountain, support
land trusts, require open space deeded with development
Provide better governance Enforce master plans and zoning, less government, city/county cooperation, long-term planning, enforce conflict of interest rules
Provide affordable living Encourage affordable day care, require affordable housing, don’t require affordable housing, encourage diverse retail
Preserve character Provide education programs about local history, encourage ability to live and work in same location, preserve ranches/ranching, historic preservation ordinance, protect downtown areas
Limit growth Quotas on building construction, enforce zoning
Limit traffic congestion Highway 40 bypass around Steamboat Springs, support bikes
and pedestrians, improve regional transit system
Promote green living Require renewable energy, improve recycling program, buy local products, provide environmental education programs
Preserve sense of community Focus policies on locals, individual participation, community events, be friendly, volunteer, provide education on heritage/traditions, welcome newcomers and tourists
Promote auto alternatives Expand regional transit, expand trails and trail infrastructure, provide more sidewalks
Participate Volunteer, become a committee member or community leader

Other themes included: Promote healthy environment, preserve ranches, preserve historic buildings, be friendly, preserve local businesses, provide recreation access, support better infrastructure, support better schools, support the arts, support youth, support charities


Interconnections

An interesting discovery was the interconnectivity of the responses to every aspect of the community. Much the way the cogs of a machine are connected to one another to drive the engine forward, every aspect of our community is connected. As we have grown, more cogs have been added to the engine, all working together to drive the community forward. Losing one piece of the mechanism affects the whole engine.

Each focus group also looked at all survey responses and the Vision 2020 review to develop desired outcomes and recommended actions for 13 separate categories.

Focus groups worked independently from one another, reviewing results and comments that pertained to that specific group. A number of recommendations came out of the focus groups that naturally connect to one another. The groups recognized that respondents identified quality of life, the economy, government and infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources as encompassing the community’s heart and soul while also affecting each other. For example, the importance of public policies and partnerships that supported our agricultural heritage and Western traditions such as the Routt County Fair, Winter Carnival, and Oak Creek’s Labor Day celebration were suggested by both the agriculture and heritage focus groups.
Natural and cultural resources, heritage, sustainability, economy, affordable housing, viability, quality of life, arts and culture, youth, seniors, recreation, education, government and infrastructure, planning, transportation.