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File #: ID 2017-074    Version: 1 Name:
Type: Update/Presentation Item Status: Filed
File created: 9/26/2017 In control: Town Council
On agenda: 10/3/2017 Final action: 10/3/2017
Title: Update: Community Conversations Online Focus Group Report
Attachments: 1. Castle_Rock_Qualitiative_Communications_Presentation_08-14-2017

To:                     Honorable Mayor and Members of Town Council


From:                     Kristin Zagurski, Assistant to the Town Manager



Update: Community Conversations Online Focus Group Report




Executive Summary


As a follow-up to the 2017 Community Survey, the Town launched an online focus group to provoke in-depth responses regarding the topics of value of services; growth; community character; parks priorities and water planning. Those conversations occurred in June and July.


The purpose of this memo is to provide Council information regarding the outcomes of those conversations, as well as the Town’s responses to some of the issues raised.




Feedback during the 2017 Community Survey indicated that the topics of value of services; growth; community character; parks priorities and water planning could benefit from additional community dialogue.


The 450 respondents to the 2017 Community Survey who agreed to participate in further research with the Town were invited to join Community Conversations, an online focus group regarding these key topics. About 80 community members responded to the invitation and actively participated in conversations facilitated by Northwest Research Group in June and July.


Following is a high-level summary of the conversation outcomes by topic area, along with how the Town is responding to the issues raised. The full report is also attached. Of note is that the full report consists mainly of information directly from residents, in their own words. These items - in italics in the report - are opinions and beliefs expressed by residents and should not necessarily be taken as facts.


Value of Services


The 2017 Community Survey indicated some disparity between perceptions of quality of services, which rated high, and value of services, which rated relatively low. The focus group discussed this disparity, and a common belief emerged that cost of living is increasing, but Town services are not improving along with that. The online community also said it would like to see more transparency regarding how tax dollars are being spent.


Town response to this issue

The Town has been working to make current and historical financial information available online in a more user-friendly format. Later in 2017, residents will be able to see answers to questions such as “How much does the Town collect in property tax each year?” and “How much does it cost to provide Police and Fire/EMS services in Castle Rock?” at Additional information on this new website feature will be communicated to the community when it becomes available.




Respondents to the 2017 Community Survey rated “managing growth” the lowest of the Town’s eight strategic priorities. The focus group discussion on this topic was intended to explore why this was the case, given growth continues to be the No. 1 issue facing the Town, per community survey results.


Online community members agreed that managing growth is a top priority. Those who rated it as a low priority said they would like growth to stop, or that growth is taking the Town in the wrong direction. The participants stressed the importance of ensuring infrastructure keeps up with growth and of protecting the community’s character as growth continues to occur.


Town response to this issue

Town Council adopted increases to the Town’s development-related fees to help infrastructure keep pace as the Town continues to grow. The fees increased by 9 percent in January 2017, and another increase of 8.5 percent is set to take effect in January 2018. Discussions are continuing with the development community regarding the appropriate development levels for 2019 and beyond. Further, water system development fees are adjusted annually to ensure new construction is paying its adequate share of projects that secure the Town’s water future.


Additionally, staff plans to continue engaging the community regarding growth issues, including growth plans and existing entitlements.


Community Character


Ratings regarding the Town’s community character decreased from the 2015 Community Survey to the 2017 Community Survey. The online community discussed ways the Town could strengthen its unique community identity. Community members were in favor of preserving open space and hosting events - particularly, hyperlocal events such as neighborhood block parties.


Town response to this issue

In 2018, the Town Manager intends to assemble a task force on the topic of community character to develop for implementation a list of ideas on how to strengthen our unique community character. Suggestions from the focus group will help provide a jumping-off point for that group’s discussions.





Parks Priorities


Respondents to the 2017 Community Survey indicated a preference for development of regional parks over neighborhood parks, and for investments in recreational amenities at Rueter-Hess Reservoir over other park-development priorities. The focus group further explored these sentiments. Ultimately, group members said they believed both types of parks are important but indicated a preference for neighborhood parks over regional ones. Similarly, once group members understood that any recreational development at Rueter-Hess must be “passive and serene” due to its primary purpose as a drinking water reservoir, the group no longer believed that project should have the greatest priority. Rather, the group thought priority should be placed on open space acquisition and trail connectivity.


Town response to this issue

The process of selecting the site of the Town’s first new neighborhood park since 2012 is underway; Town Council is expected to determine the location in October. Capital investment in Rueter-Hess recreation is included in the 2018 Budget, along with the funds to complete the East Plum Creek Trail connection from near Safeway to Crystal Valley Parkway. Acquisition of additional open space is envisioned to be discussed by the upcoming task force.


Water Planning


One-third of residents who responded to the 2017 Community Survey said they did not know enough about the Town’s water plan to provide an opinion whether it is adequate. The focus group explored what residents know about the water plan and how they could be better informed. Participants indicated they are uninterested in the plan and that simplistic visual aids could be valuable educational tools on the topic.


Town response to this issue

Castle Rock Water and the Community Relations Division will take the feedback offered into account as they continue outreach programs surrounding the Town’s water plan. One way the teams have tried to simplify this complex subject matter is by creating the “Most Hydrated Man” video series, available on the Town website and social media platforms. Innovative communication methods will continue to be explored and implemented, with a goal of increasing community awareness of the Town’s water plan.




Attachment A:  Community Conversations: Communications with Residents