Thursday, July 17, 2014

Northwest Conservatives Forum Incumbents Misstate The Facts On Oro Valley Demographics

This coming monday, we we will post regarding candidates comments on the Oro Valley General Plan: Is it a guide or a blueprint? The comments were made in response to question at last week's the Northwest Conservatives Forum.

In response to this question, each of the Majority-4 responded that Oro Valley is getting younger, demographically, and that the 2015 General Plan should reflect this.

The Majority-4 continues to misstate the facts.  Knowing the facts is important because it influences whether, for example, the town should build a community center or more ball fields.  The Majority-4 have focussed on the latter.  Perhaps their lack of knowing the facts has resulted in their ignoring the needs of Oro Valley's senior community, a community that should get even larger once the 800 plus "luxury" apartments are completed and occupied.

We posted this item last fall.

Oro Valley is getting order, not younger demographically.

Here are the facts...
(November 6, 2013)

In his State of the Town address, Oro Valley Mayor Hiremath observed: " “Oro Valley is no longer just a “retirement” community!” According to town communication director, Misti Nowak, the Mayor was making the point that in spite of Oro Valley’s reputation as just a retirement community, according to the latest Census data, there are as many people over 65 as under 18."

The facts don't exactly support this assertion.  According to the 2010 Census,  there were actually 37% more people over 65 (10,699) than 18 or under (7,888).  Still, it is important to remember that Oro Valley is more than a retirement community.

The problem is...

Oro Valley's Population Is Actually Getting Older

Here are 5 striking facts.  During the 10 year period 2000-2010:
  • The growth in the number of people in the 65+ group was twice that of the 18 and under group: 3,959 to 1,996, respectively.
  • The percent of households with individuals who are 65 or older increased from 35% to 40.5%.
  • The percent of households with individuals who are 18 or younger decreased from 28% to 24.7%.
  • The percent of the population with individuals who are 14 or younger decreased from 17.8% to 15.1%; and
  • The actual number of people 14 or younger increased by 892 in the 10 years, an increase of 17% while the overall population of the town increased 38%.
Indeed, the overall statistic, average median age, bears this out.  It increased to 49.6 years in 2010, up from 45.3 years in 2000. (The median age is that age at which there are as many people over 49.6 years as under 49.6 years.)

It Matters That  Oro Valley Population Is Actually Older, Not Younger

The statistics matter because the direction the numbers are headed should impact planning.

A younger community, one where the youth population is growing significantly, requires more schools, more recreation facilities, and more youth family services.  An older community, one where the population is aging, requires more medical service, less outdoor recreation facilities, and strong police and emergency services.

The young, after all, have different needs, different dreams, and different aspirations than seniors. Striking a balance between the desires of the young and the old will be key to the 2015 General Plan update.

Given This Aging Trend, Does Investing Town Reserves In More Youth Facilities Right Now Make Sense?

That's something of which you need to be the judge.

Tonight, the Oro Valley Town Council will discuss spending $2.3 million on two multi-use fields and a dog park at the Naranja Town Site. Multi-use fields are most suitable for soccer, perhaps some softball.  This would be something primarily for the young people of our community. The dog park, which really should be put at Riverfront Park, has appeal to those who own pets.   It is really age neutral.  Its cost is a small part of the $2.3 million.

Neither of these things, unless you are a pet owner, serves an aging community.

If, for example, Oro Valley has $2.3 million to invest, and there is some discussion as to whether this is even the case, why not invest it in a Community Center? This could be used by young and old. Perhaps the town should use some of the money to seed our parks in the winter so that the parks don't look like brown fields of muck, as they are beginning to look now.  Just go visit Riverfront Park.

We are not for or against two multi-use fields or the dog park.

The statistics tell the facts: These are facilities that most of us will not use.

So, we question the wisdom of it at this time.

We question the wisdom of investing in the Naranja Town Site without a suitable plan for the rest of the facility.  We question the wisdom of spending the town's reserves when the economy of our country continues in a malaise.  We question how the town can come up with money to build a significant facility but not have enough money to even over seed are parks in the winter.   We question why commitments that were made in our last general plan, such as for a community center, have never been discussed, let alone met. 

We wonder what you think?

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