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Summit County Needs to Stop Using Old and Non-Scientific Surveys as Basis for Future

Allegedly sometime in 2010 there was a meeting where about 200 people showed up and some portion of those people ranked what the most important to them in the Snyderville Basin. Since then, those results are periodically trotted out during meetings and in documents like our General Plan to show what the community’s “vision” is. Case in point, in our General Plan Phase 2 document, you’ll see the following on Community Vision:


This is then used to define what the community wants. Is there a problem here? Let us point out 3 things:

  1. Not representative. Having 200 random people attend a meeting and vote and to use that as any sort of survey makes little sense. Valid surveys go to painstaking lengths to ensure that it is representative of the population. How many second home owners were there “voting”? What was the distribution of race? What ages were represented? What was the distribution of income in attendance at this meeting? We might as well post a poll on and use that.
  2. 4 Years is a long time.What were you doing in 2010? Has anything changed from when you voted (did you vote in this?)? Oh, Vail is here. Kimball Junction has expanded dramatically. The movie studio is being built. 1000 homes are coming online near Home Depot. We are out of the recession and building is coming back.
  3. This list no longer seems accurate. If this list is accurate then we should be able to cancel all our work on traffic, transportation, and the mountain accord. The first traffic concern comes in at 9th (with mass transit).

This isn’t the only list, like this, that concerns us at the Park Rag. Right now consultants are using whiteboards where citizens that attended a meeting on transportation put green and red dots next to concepts they agreed or disagreed with in order to chart our future course. An example is below:


There were over 120 people at this meeting and it was a great turnout. Ideas were expressed by the County and citizen feedback was captured. It was a very valuable meeting. However, we envision the results of the green/red dot exercise being used to not only justify County ideas in the near future but for the next five years. Since we were at this meeting, we have a good idea of what’s wrong with this “survey”.

  1. While 120 people were at this meeting. The maximum number of votes for any item was about 30 votes. That would indicate that about only 30-40 people were voting.
  2. Even if 120 people voted, that would be far less than 1 percent of the Basin.
  3. Most of the people there were passionate about transportation problems. How would people who really don’t have a beef with transportation vote?
  4. These votes are valid as of that one night in October 2014. How valuable will they be next Summer? How about in two years.
  5. Some of the questions weren’t worded clearly for a Yes/No vote. People didn’t know what they were voting for.

We get why the County does exercises like these. It allows citizens to participate and share their feelings. It has value, as far as showing what a limited number of people who are concerned with an issue feel at that moment. However, extrapolating results and using it continually, many years on is a disservice to our community.

It makes us wonder in what other ways old data is being used to guide our future. With so much at stake, Summit County needs to be better than this.



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