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Findings from a Poll of Adams Residents

Regarding Development of the Downtown Area and Greylock Glen:

Highlights

 

Date poll released: 8/14/2000

Method and Sample

Twenty-nine students at Berkshire Community College were trained in telephone polling skills. By phone, they then interviewed two hundred twenty-eight (N=228) residents whose addresses were selected randomly from the Adams Town Census. Each respondent is at least 18 years of age and currently a resident of the household that had been called. The anonymity of responses was assured.

Random selection from a census arranged alphabetically by street assured that all five precincts are fairly represented. Respondents are well distributed across five age groupings, as follows (with number of respondents for each group indicated in parentheses): 18-29 (37), 30-44 (61), 45-59 (65), 60-74 (47), and 75 and older (16).

(Two respondents did not indicate an age group.) There are no meaningful correlations between age and responses.

82% of the sample are registered voters. Mean length of respondents’ residence in Adams is 30 years.

The poll sample contains no self-selection bias and, with an average margin of error of +/- 6%, allows for reasonable inferences about the feelings and views of the Adams population.

 

Findings

(1) Use of the downtown. Adams residents make scant use of their downtown. Banking is the most frequently cited activity (approximately once every other week), with a similar average frequency for all purposes combined. Respondents repeatedly make such comments as "There's nothing to do in downtown Adams."

A majority would like to see more restaurants and shops open downtown, and a minority endorses 32 other options ranging from clubs to cafes to theaters. Of the five million dollars of state money currently earmarked for development of Greylock Glen, respondents, on average, would like to see some 60% used to develop the downtown.

(2) Use of Greylock Glen. 85% of Adams residents make use of Greylock Glen, and almost half of these visit at least once per month. Not surprisingly, the most frequent activity (cited by almost three-fourths of the sample) is hiking or walking; other cited activities include picnicking, swimming, skiing, biking, fishing, hunting, birdwatching, photography, foraging, and playing frisbee.

(3) Support for proposed Greylock Center components. Depending on the component, Adams residents express support for or opposition to the Greylock Center project. The data demonstrate that most oppose the plans for homes, hotel, and parking, and there are mixed feelings about the golf course and inn. Strong majorities support hiking trails, bike trails, and environmental education center.

Eight components, and the percentage of those supporting or opposing each, are listed below in descending order of support.

 

Component of Greylock Glen Proposal

Percent

Percent

Percent

Support

Oppose

Undecided

hiking trails

85

3

12

bike trails

81

7

12

environmental education center

69

8

23

18-hole golf course

47

38

15

40-room inn

36

45

19

160-room hotel and conference center

23

60

17

parking to accommodate 1000 cars

22

61

17

300 private homes

13

67

20

 

 

(4) Predicted overall effect of development. Adams residents are ambivalent when predicting the proposed project's overall effect on their lives. Question 10 asks: "Suppose the private homes and golf course were incorporated into the Greylock Glen project. What do you think the overall effect on the economy and the quality of life for current residents of Adams would be?" Responses to this question are distributed in a pattern resembling a normal curve, from "completely positive" to "completely negative", with a mean response located midway ("equally positive & negative").

(5) Rank ordering of specific concerns—negative and positive. But respondents are less ambivalent about specific concerns. In Questions 11 through 14—regarding nine specific potential effects—the response to one item dealing with property taxes stands out. Adams residents believe it more likely that property taxes will rise than that they will decline if a golf course and private homes are built. This finding is statistically significant. In addition, they express a concern about loss of wildlife habitat under the same circumstances.

Displaying the highest average ratings, these two negative potential effects top a list of respondents’ rankings of concern about the nine possibilities. Displaying the lowest average ratings, two positive potential effects involving increased tourism and reduced taxes place at the bottom. Each "concern"—and its ranking on the list—is derived by multiplying how likely respondents thought the effect was by how important the effect was to them personally. The potential effects are listed below in descending order of concern.

Rank Ordering of Positive and Negative Concerns

1. a loss of wildlife habitat

(negative)

2. a rise in property taxes

(negative)

3. new employment opportunities

(positive)

4. new recreational opportunities

(positive)

5. traffic congestion

(negative)

6. reduced public access to the Glen

(negative)

7. a rise in crime

(negative)

8. increased tourism downtown

(positive)

9. a reduction in property taxes

(positive)

 

The rank ordering indicates that residents’ concern about negatives is greater than their hopefulness about positives. Results of a test comparing the higher average negative ratings with the lower average positive ratings is statistically significant.

A majority also report that they oppose the tax exemption granted to the golf course by the Adams Town Meeting in 1999. For every resident who agrees with the exemption (20%), almost three (54%) disagree. Thus, residents' concerns about tax increases may derive as much from the prospect of a golf course as it does from the prospect of private homes.

(6) Overriding themes. A majority of responses to open-ended questions reflect residents' concerns that any development of Greylock Glen should remain "low-key" (such as campsites and nature trails), enhance its natural beauty, and minimize the number of structures placed on the land.

Although almost a third of Adams residents (30%) would like to see no development of any kind at Greylock Glen, the findings demonstrate that a majority would welcome some development but disagree with the current proposal.

 

You may also view the entire questionnaire or the additional comments made by respondents.

  

Poll designed by Jean Bacon, Ph.D. (Williams College)

Wayne Klug, Ph.D. (Berkshire Community College)

Anne O’Dwyer, Ph.D. (Simon's Rock College of Bard)

Interviews conducted by students at Berkshire Community College

Data analyzed and interpreted by Anne O'Dwyer

Consultants

Stacy Evans, M.P.P. (Berkshire Community College)

Steve Green, Ph.D. (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts)