The city of Grand Junction is looking into conducting a new survey to gather information on public opinion of a proposed community center.
City Manager Greg Caton said, since some time has passed since the city conducted its survey as part of the Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Master Plan, that it might make sense to conduct a new survey.
He said that survey could revisit some questions, such as where the community center should be located.
Parks and Recreation Director Ken Sherbenou gave the council a presentation on the history and findings of the last survey and the priorities identified in the PROS Plan. The top priority in that plan is a community center.
Council Members Rick Taggart and Dennis Simpson both raised issues they had with that specific survey and past surveys the city had done. Taggart said he wanted the city to ask residents what they would pay to use the facility.
“We’ve never really asked the public what they’re willing to pay for a fee structure,” Taggart said. “We’ve made some assumptions in our revenue documents, but we’ve never asked that question and I truly believe that there are a good number of citizens that think this is a free service paid by taxpayer money.”
Taggart said he also felt there had been bias in how questions, specifically around the proposed locations for the facility, had been asked.
“The way the feasibility study asked the question about Lincoln Park was at best biased because we basically told them why Matchett Park didn’t make any sense,” Taggart said. “That’s not a good way to ask a question and I said that a long time ago and I’ll say that again.”
Simpson called into question the survey process itself. He said while the city selected people at random to send the survey to, people more interested in having a community center might be more likely to respond. He pointed to a previous survey that he said showed broad support for a community center prior to a failed ballot measure in 2019. He said he wanted to see a new survey conducted by someone with a background in statistics.
“We have not focused on the fact that probably the biggest reason we had that mix up in the numbers, it looks like we’re going to win in a landslide and then we get beat, is because it is not a statistically valid survey that we did then,” Simpson said. “We’re repeating the same mistake now.”
Eliminating bias from the consultant who would conduct the survey was also important, Taggart said. He said he would like the city to consult with a market research firm outside the recreation sphere. He mentioned a potential local person who could help.
“I would also go on to say that the survey should be done by a market research firm,” Taggart said. “It should not be done by people that have any relationship what-so-ever to either being an architect of these types of facilities and/or any other relationship.”
ORCHARD MESA POOL
Sherbenou said that there was no update regarding the Orchard Mesa Pool, which is funded through 2021.
The pool is funded in partnership between the city, county and School District 51. They have agreed to fund it through the end of the year, but a new funding agreement hasn’t been announced. Sherbenou said the pool will need significant investment in repairs in the coming years.
“There is a significant amount of investment needed at Orchard Mesa (Pool) and we certainly don’t want to throw good money after bad if it’s not going to be a long term solution,” Sherbenou said.
Council Member Anna Stout said she would like the survey to explore including Orchard Mesa Pool with the community center.
“I really hesitate to take that amenity away from Orchard Mesa, from a community that does not have access to as many amenities as the rest of the community,” Stout said.