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Comprehensive Plan
Town-wide Survey

In June of 2000, the Shandaken Master Plan Committee conducted a survey of the Town's residents. Over 3,000 surveys were sent out to property owners and registered voters. 769 households responded, a return of approximately 25%. Independently, planning consultant Dan Shuster and a qualified volunteer tabulated the surveys and the results were represented to the committee. Below are the statistical results of the survey followed by an analysis by Mr. Shuster.

Statistical Results of the Survey

Which of the hamlets do you live in? Number
Phoenicia 140
Shandaken / Allaben / Bushnellsville 116
No answer 101
Mount Pleasant / Mount Tremper 88
Big Indian / Oliverea 85
Pine Hill 85
Chichester 57
Woodland Valley 56
Highmount 33

Survey recipients were asked to respond to the following questions by circling the appropriate number on a scale of 5 to 1, with 5 being the most positive and 1 being the least acceptable. Responses for each question are sorted by the mean (average) rating.

1) How important is it to you to protect or enhance the following? (5=very important, 1=least important) Avg.
Groundwater Supplies 4.72
Woodlands 4.69
Scenic Views 4.68
Stream Corridors 4.62
Community Rural Character 4.50
Wildlife Preserves 4.50
Watershed Areas 4.39
Wetlands 4.39
Existing Hamlets 4.37
Historic Structures and Sites 4.34

2) What do you see as the most important issue facing Shandaken in the next 10 years? (5=very important, 1=least important) Avg.
Maintain the Quality of the Environment 4.67
Protecting Our Water Supply 4.63
Maintain the Rural Character 4.40
Controlling Taxes 4.38
Controlling the Rate of Development 4.17
Uses of State-owned Land 3.92
Enhancing Economic Opportunities 3.85
Infrastructure 3.81

3) What pattern of Economic Development would you encourage? (5=encourage, 1=discourage) Avg.
Development in the Hamlets 3.40
Development along Route 28 2.89
Development in Other Areas 2.82
No Further Development 2.70

4) What types of Economic Development would you encourage? (5=very much, 1=not at all) Avg.
Arts / Theater 4.18
Small Inns / Bed & Breakfasts 4.08
Crafts 4.05
Tourism 3.94
Home Business 3.86
Restaurants 3.77
Visitor / Interpretive Center 3.70
Telecommuting / Internet 3.68
Retail Businesses 3.61
Spas 3.10
Hotels 2.92
Light Manufacturing 2.82
Gambling 1.73

5) Should the town encourage the following types of housing? (5=encourage, 1=discourage) Avg.
Single-family Dwellings 4.19
Housing for Senior Citizens 3.91
Low / Moderate Income Housing 2.84
Multi-family Dwellings / 2-3 Units 2.54
Subsidized Housing 2.45
Apartments / 4 or More Units 2.20
Town Houses / Condos / Cluster 2.17
Mobile Homes 1.87

6) Are you familiar with the Town of Shandaken's existing Zoning Laws and Regulations? Number
No 385
Yes 343
No Answer 41

7) If you answered yes to Question 7, do you think these laws and regulations are sufficient to further land use and development? Number
No 195
Yes 137

8) How important are each of the reasons for living in Shandaken? (5=very important, 1=not at all) Avg.
Natural Surroundings 4.77
Rural Lifestyle 4.54
Low Crime Rate 4.31
Recreational Opportunities 4.01
Affordable Housing 3.35
Cultural Events 3.25
Closeness to Interstate Highway & NY Metro Area 3.10
Schools 2.88
Near Job 2.37

9) What recreational/cultural activities would you like to see in the town? (5=very important, 1=not at all) Avg.
Hiking Trails 4.35
Arts / Theater 4.10
Hunting / Fishing 4.08
Theater 3.98
Bike Paths 3.89
Cross Country Ski Trails 3.88
Crafts 3.82
Birdwatching 3.77
Ice Skating 3.77
Horseback Riding 3.73
Community Center 3.72
Cultural / Heritage Tourism 3.72
Eco-Tourism 3.70
Whitewater Recreation 3.70
Downhill Skiing 3.56
Museums 3.56
Town Pool 3.44
Tennis Courts 3.18
Golf Courses 2.57
Snow Mobile Trails 2.29

10) How would you rate the following existing services in Shandaken? (5=excellent, 1=needing improvement) Avg.
Snow Removal / Highway Maintenance 4.14
Ambulance Service 4.13
Fire Protection Services 4.06
Police Protection 3.87
Street Lighting 3.49
School System 3.48
Traffic Control 3.43
Recycling Center 3.23
Garbage Disposal 3.18
Building Code Enforcement 3.12
Cable TV 3.11
Senior Services 2.96
Water System 2.96
Phone Lines / Fiber Optics 2.88
Sewer System 2.80
Sidewalk Maintenance 2.80
Internet Service 2.66
Public Transportation / Bus / Train 2.62
Youth Oriented Activities / Services 2.34
Cellular Service 2.03

Analysis of the Survey
Written for Comprehensive Plan Committee by Dan Shuster and dated November 20, 2000


    A questionnaire such as that distributed by the Committee is one of numerous methods by which the Committee can solicit data and opinions from Town residents and property owners. The results can provide useful in-put regarding various issues for the Committee to consider in conjunction with the other information and opinions available and should be evaluated with consideration of the following qualifications.

    1. The method of distribution of the questionnaire was not designed to produce a statistically accurate profile of the opinions of Town residents, since response was voluntary and could not be randomly predicted in advance.

    2. The 25% return rate is consistent with the rate of return for similar surveys in the area with which we are familiar and is of sufficient size to be worthy of consideration

    3. Since the questionnaire design did not require respondents to limit their answers to a few choices, priorities are not as clear-cut as they might have been in some instances. For example, in Question 1, the average measure of importance of the lowest rated response was within 10% of the average for the highest rated response.

    4. The choices set forth in many of the questions ranged from very specific to quite broad and, in some cases, the broader categories included several of the more specific items.

    5. We reviewed a sample of one out of seven returns to confirm the general pattern of responses. We did not attempt to replicate the detailed calculations undertaken by the volunteer the Committee selected to do the complete analysis. The analysis below is based on the statistical results supplied by the volunteer which are attached.


    1. 86% of the respondents identified with one of the hamlets offered as a choice. The distribution is generally consistent with population distribution in the hamlets, ranging from 33 in Highmount (4% of the total) to 140 in Phoenicia (18%).

    2. 60% of the respondents considered themselves to be full-time residents of Shandaken and 40% part-time.

    3. Almost 93% of the respondents who answered the question regarding tenure owned their residence.

    4. The average period of time which respondents lived in or owned property in Shandaken was almost 22 years.

    5. Of 748 responses as to place of work (which includes some multiple responses on the same survey), 14% worked in Shandaken while 35% were retired in Shandaken or elsewhere. The remaining 31% worked elsewhere.

    6. Of the total population represented by respondents 17.4% were under 18 years old, 47% between 18 and 55 years old and 35% over 55.


    Eight of the 10 questions dealing with opinions required respondents to rate various factors on a scale ranging from 5 (most positive) to 1 (least positive), Respondents were able to rate all choices in each question and were not required to establish priorities among the choices, The tabulation by the volunteer computed responses by mean, median and mode. The analysis below utilizes the mean (average) ratings unless otherwise stated.

    Question 1: Protection of Environmental Factors

    Protection of all aspects of the environment were considered very important. The highest average rating, groundwater supplies (4.72), was only 8% higher than the lowest, historic structures and sites (4.34). The results establish that respondents feel strongly about protection of natural resources but do not indicate arty significant priorities.

    Question 2: Important Issues

    This question dealt with a wide array of topics. The three issues which ranked highest related to environmental factors: maintain the quality of the environment (4.67), protecting our water supply (4.63) and maintain the rural character (4.40). Controlling taxes (4.38) and controlling the rate of development (4.17) were not far behind. Enhancing economic opportunities, which has a variety of possible relationships with these two items, ranked slightly lower at 3.85. Two chokes which deal with government action, uses of state owned land (3.92) and infrastructure (3.81) were ranked about the same. The latter three choices were the only ones for which the mode was 4 rather than 5.

    Question 3: Patterns of Economic Development

    This question offered respondents the opportunity to express an opinion on distinctly different patterns of economic development but did not produce a clear choice. The most favored choice, development In the hamlets, had an average rank of only 3.40 while development along Route 28 (2.89) and development in other areas (2.82) scored less than 20% lower. The fourth choice, no further development ranked lowest at 2.70.

    Question 4: Types of Economic Development

    A choice of 13 types of economic development was offered. Seven of the 13 choices were activities geared, at least in part, to tourists. The eighth was the all-encompassing category of tourism. Interestingly, the average score of the seven specific choices (3.68) was almost the same as that for tourism in general (3.94). Five of the seven specific choices ranked within 12% of each other: arts/theater (4.18), small inns/ bed and breakfast (4.08), crafts (4.05), restaurants (3.77) and visitor / interpretive center (3.70). The other two, hotels and spas ranked much lower at 2.92 and 3.10. Since no definition was provided, each respondent was required to utilize his/ her own image of each specific choice. Three of the four other non-tourist related activities ranked almost the same as the seven specific tourist related activities - home business (3.86), retail business (3.61) and telecommunication/ internet (3.68) - an average of 3.71. Light manufacturing (2.82) ranked the lowest. Gambling ranked lowest of all (1.73) with a mode of 1 (not at all).

    Question 5: Housing Types

    Single family dwellings and housing for senior citizens were the housing types clearly preferred by a majority of respondents. These two choices ranked approximately 30% higher (4.19 and 3.91) than the next three highest choices, low/ moderate income housing (2.84), multi-family dwellings / 2-3 units (2.54) and subsidized housing (2.45). Mobile homes (1.87), townhouses/condos/cluster (2.17) and apartments/4 or more units (2.20) all were at the bottom of the ranking range, Since housing for senior citizens may well be "subsidized" or "low/moderate income" it appears that the distinction being made is between assisted housing for seniors as opposed to families.

    Question 6 and 7: Knowledge of Zoning Laws

    47% of respondents said they were familiar with the Town's Zoning Laws and Regulations. Of those who were familiar a minority (41 %) believed the existing laws were sufficient to guide further use and development.

    Question 8: Reasons for Living in Shandaken

    The three highest ranked reasons that respondents gave for living in Shandaken were natural surroundings (4.77), rural lifestyle (4.54) and low crime rate (4.31). Analysis of the samples by our office showed that these three factors ranked highest for both full and part-time residents. Location near job ranked lowest (2.37) while schools were next (2.88).

    Question 9: Recreational/Cultural Activities

    As in Question 4, respondents were offered a list of 20 choices which included some very specific activities as well as some broad categories. The three activities considered most important were hiking trails (4.35), arts/theater (4.10) and hunting/fishing (4.08). These were the only activities where the ranking median was 5. Of the remaining 17 choices, 14 were grouped within a range of 14% in the ranking (from 3.44 to 3.98), all with a median rank of 4. The three activities with the lowest ranking were tennis courts (3.18), golf courses (2.57) and snow mobile trails (2.29). The latter two had a median rank of 2. It is interesting to note that the three highest ranked activities already exist in town.

    Question 10: Rating of Existing Services

    Respondents were asked to rank 21 different services, some municipal, some volunteer and some private. Three services bad an average rank of over 4: snow removal/highway maintenance (4.14), ambulance service (4.13) and fire protection (4.06). Nine services had a rank below 3. These were in three categories: communications (cellular, internet, phone), public infrastructure (public transportation, sewer system, water system sidewalks) and social services (youth and senior services). The other nine services were ranked in the middle range.


    Although the questionnaire results are inconclusive or inconsistent in some respects, the following general conclusions can be drawn.

    1. Respondents value Shandaken's natural resources and rural environment

    2. Directing economic development to the hamlets is a slim choice over other possible locations but not a strong recommendation.

    3. Respondents favored many tourist related economic activities, with the exception of hotels and spas, but also favored other businesses as well. Light industry and gambling received little support.

    4. Respondents favored single family housing and housing for senior citizens over all other housing types.

    5. A wide variety of outdoor/ vacation type recreational and cultural activities were considered important. Three activities, tennis, golf and snowmobile trails ranked below all others.

    6. Respondents indicated the most satisfaction with emergency and road services and the least with communications, infrastructure and social services.

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