Elkins Community Survey Results

During April and early May, we, along with the Community Development Institute and the City of Elkins, sponsored a community survey to help gauge the perceptions, needs, and overall attitudes within the Elkins Community. We loved the results! This summary was presented at the May 30 Elkins City Council meeting and we wanted to share the summary with you!

 

Demographics 

511 area residents and 135 other stakeholders participated in the 2024 Elkins community survey.  Of the non-residents, the majority live in Madison County or Fayetteville. Nearly 75% of responding residents have lived in the Elkins area for more than five years, underscoring the community’s ability to retain residents. 34% of respondents have been residents for more than 15  years. The largest percentage of respondents were between the ages of 37-45 (17.18%), Under 16  (15.79%), and 16-20 (15.17%). Overall, respondent ages were well distributed across the age ranges, except for 21-28 and Over 75. Communities often struggle with cross-generational engagement, so the steering committee should be encouraged by the diversity in age.  

Topics Most Important for the Future 

Residents were asked what they thought were the most important topics for the future of Elkins and the surrounding area. The list below represents the top ten most important topics they  identified: 

  1. Parks and Recreation (41.58%) 
  2. Youth and Family Activities and Services (39.88%) 
  3. Managed Growth (Strategic Planning) (33.38%)  
  4. Downtown Development (29.37%) 
  5. Entrepreneurship/Small Business Development (27.51%)  
  6. Public Safety (23.65%)  
  7. Bicycle Paths and Trails (23.49%)  
  8. Education and Workforce Development (23.49%) 
  9. Job Creation (21.64%) 
  10. Retail Development (20.25%) 

Priorities 

Respondents shared 1,472 projects and/or opportunities they want to see addressed in the future.  Upon reviewing and sorting those identified projects/opportunities, the following emerged as the  most important:  

  1. Parks and Recreation: Respondents expressed a desire for updated playground equipment, aquatic amenities, sports facilities, and outdoor recreation infrastructure.  
  2. Youth and Family Activities: The need for family and youth activities was identified by respondents. Some suggestions include expanding the Farmer’s market, community  events, adding outdoor recreation teams as youth sports, and offering after school  programming available to the public. 
  3. Restaurant and Retail Development: There is a strong desire for expanding dining and  local shopping options among respondents. Downtown, accessibility, and affordability  were mentioned alongside these comments.  
  4. Managed Growth: Respondents are concerned about managing growth to prevent annexation from neighboring communities and being mindful of design guidelines.  
  5. Infrastructure: A variety of infrastructure projects and focus areas (streets and sidewalk development, housing development, drainage, and traffic management, were identified as important. Highway 16 and Stokenbury were specifically called out.  

Community Personality 

Residents were asked which words best describe the personality of their community (Elkins) and these words rose to the top:  

  1. Small Town (71.38%) 
  2. Friendly (47.74%)  
  3. Laid Back (41.37%)  
  4. Traditional (37.01%) 
  5. Rural living (34.84%) 
  6. Family-Oriented (33.75%) 
  7. Welcoming (28.62%)  
  8. Down Home (26.91%) 
  9. Close to Nature (25.35%) 
  10. Outdoors (24.26%) 

Emerging Themes 

Residents were asked, “What is your favorite thing about Elkins (besides the people)?” resulting  in the following themes:  

  1. Small Town Feel: Residents love that Elkins is a small, safe, and affordable town.  
  2. Location and Convenience to Amenities: Responses referred to Elkins as conveniently located near larger cities for employment and shopping opportunities.  
  3. Natural Scenery and Beauty: Elkins’ natural beauty is not lost on respondents. It is obvious this is a source of pride.  
  4. Education: The school district was identified as an opportunity to compete regionally.  Faculty, staff, and administration were commended for their leadership and accessibility. 

Community Outlook 

Respondents were asked to select how they identify with the following statement: I am optimistic about the future of Elkins. The results were as follows:  

  • Strongly Agree (18.58%)  
  • Agree (44.58%) 
  • Neither Agree nor Disagree (27.55%) 
  • Disagree (6.81%) 
  • Strongly Disagree (2.48%) 

The responses trended overall positive with over 60% of the respondents sharing they either strongly agreed or agreed that they are optimistic about the future, though nearly 28% of respondents were neutral.  

Respondent Participation 

165 respondents shared their contact information because they wanted to continue being directly involved in shaping the future of Elkins.