What Makes You Love Estes Park?
Last month I shared that I had the pleasure to hear Peter Kageyama, author of the book For the Love of Cities speak. Mr. Kageyama talked about what makes people really love the place they live, and not just have an attitude of indifference to their community. His research identified some key factors common among communities where people love to live. At the end of the column, I asked you what you thought about Estes Park and asked you to share your thoughts using an online survey. This wasn’t a scientific survey and was meant to be fun. Well, 122 of you took me up on the offer and here’s what you had to say about Estes Park.
As I expected, most of us really do love living here. Out of all respondents, 88 percent of you told me you love living in Estes Park, 11 percent were indifferent, and two individuals said they hate it here.
According to Kageyama, there are a few key factors that tend to make a community “loveable.” These are walkability, bicycle friendly, dog friendly, special and unique character and traditions. So how did we do?
Walkability: We fared pretty well here, but there is room for improvement. A total of 51 percent felt Estes Park is very walkable, 43 percent said it’s somewhat walkable and 6 percent said Estes Park is not walkable.
Bicycle-Friendly: We didn’t fair too well in this category. Only 14 percent of you felt that Estes Park is “bike-friendly,” while 47 percent said it’s somewhat “bike-friendly” and a full 33 percent said the town is not “bike-friendly.” Six people said they hate bicycles.
Dog-Friendly: Just over half of you feel that Estes Park is a dog-friendly town, with 53 percent saying Estes Park is very “dog-friendly.” Then, 36 percent felt that the town is somewhat “dog-friendly” and 6 percent told me we aren’t “dog-friendly” at all. Six people said they don’t like dogs.
What are the “special things” you told me you love about Estes Park? The Riverwalk had the highest response here, with 77 percent saying you love the Riverwalk through town. Close behind were the wildlife (74 percent), Lake Estes (64 percent), summer events (60 percent), and the Christmas decorations (56 percent). Since the survey was about the Town, I didn’t include Rocky Mountain National Park, but in the “other” category, it’s no surprise many of you said the national park, the mountains and outdoor recreation opportunities are what you love about Estes Park. Some of the other special things you mentioned were the lack of franchises and chain stores, friendly people, the flowers, fireworks, the library, the Arts Center, farmer’s market and the people.
Last, I asked you to tell me what fun ideas you have that would make Estes Park even more “loveable” and you had some great ideas. Making the town more bike-friendly with more bike racks, better and more bike trails and bike lanes came up most frequently. Having more opportunities for families and kids was high on your list of suggestions as well. Affordable housing was raised as an issue.
Here’s a random list of some of your comments:
“More shuttles,” and “Shuttles year-round.” “Turn Elkhorn into a pedestrian/bike/shuttles only area.” “Busking street performers on the Riverwalk and downtown.” “Paint electrical boxes.” “Community Center.” “Zip line on Prospect Mountain.” “Love the farmer’s market downtown,” and “Move the farmer’s market back to the fairgrounds.” “Wine and cheese festival.” “Better parking.” “More outdoor movies.” “Alpine slide.” “Bring back Hidden Valley Ski Area.”
And finally, here are a couple comments that show our diversity: “Get rid of everyone that has moved here and wants to change it to conform to their standards,” and “Get rid of the old farts.” You’ve gotta wonder if these are the same folks who hate living here, hate bicycles and don’t like dogs. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t ask about Mom and Apple Pie!
Thank you to everyone who responded — the Town appreciates your engagement. We need to hear from you, because it’s the needs of our community that drive what we do in Town government. Stop by Town Hall or call my office anytime at 970-577-3700.