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The Flemer Barns Task Force has released the results of the community survey of residents of the Mad River Valley. The survey asked yes/no questions of residents about how they feel about the purchase, development, programing and operations of the Flemer Barns site as a community resource, including how they feel about committing financially.
The survey results were presented to the Waitsfield Select Board at their regular meeting on Monday, August 12, and have been published on the Flemer Barns website: FlemerBarns.org The select board thanked the task force members for their work and disbanded the task force.
The survey ran from July 18 to August 2, with a public information meeting held on July 23 to answer questions and gain people's feedback. A copy of the survey was inserted into every copy of the July 18 edition of The Valley Reporter (a total of 3,500 surveys). Twenty-nine collection locations were set up around The Valley at area businesses, libraries, post offices and town offices. The survey was also available online. Through this process, 169 surveys were completed, or approximately 3 percent of registered voters in the four Valley towns of Waitsfield, Warren, Fayston and Moretown, using a calculation of 5,407 voters total for the four towns. (Note: Duxbury was also invited to participate in the survey, but there were no respondents from Duxbury.)
A summary of the results are as follows.
(Click image for larger version)
A majority of respondents (56 percent) indicated they would like to see the Flemer Barns property developed as a community resource for the Mad River Valley. The most popular programs/facilities in rank order were a community gathering space, a community center, a recreation/play area, a teen center and an arts center. Some noted to be careful not to duplicate services that already exist in The Valley while others questioned how many community services Valley residents can financially support. Some commented about housing being a good use for reasons including increased tax revenues, lack of availability and increased vitality of Waitsfield Village.
A majority of respondents (57 percent) indicated they do not support paying increased taxes to participate in a joint, multi-town effort to purchase, develop and operate the Flemer Barns property as a community resource. There were numerous comments regarding concern over the increased tax burden the project could impose on Valley residents.
In regard to donations to purchase and develop the site as a community resource, 56 percent responded that they would likely not donate, while 28 percent would likely donate and 16 percent were undecided.
Respondents were split as to whether they would support a public-private partnership of Valley towns working together to purchase and develop the site as a community resource.
Based on these survey results, albeit with a small sample size, it appears that there is support for the development of the site as a community resource as a privately funded venture – possibly funded in-part through private donations. But a majority of respondents are not in favor of funding using local town taxes.
After presenting the survey results to the Waitsfield Select Board, it was decided that the work of the Flemer Barns Task Force was complete. The select board thanked the task force members for their work and voted to disband the task force.
The Flemer Barns website at FlemerBarns.org will continue to be available as a resource for the foreseeable future.
To see more detailed survey results including comments made by respondents, go to FlemerBarns.org. Note that names and email addresses have been removed from the survey results to protect individuals' privacy.