27 August 2008

Interesting comments from a Leisureville reader

As posted on amazon.com:

Blechman raises three issues that are of paramount importance, all of which make it worthwhile reading for anyone -- especially in the Northeast -- who is grappling with generational issues in local government; it should also be of interest to those who are concerned about the long-term physical and resource impact of age-restrictd communities.

First, if we do value our seniors, why aren't we doing more on a local level to encourage them to stay in integrated communities? The cost of public education, health and other benefits, and an aging infrastructure are clobbering the tax base, but we may need to find the extra money in strained municipal budget to better support programs that make life in the communities in which they've lived for decades easier and more rewarding for them. That said, seniors have hardly helped their cause -- it is tiresome to hear well-heeled retirees complain that they shouldn't shoulder some of the burden for the exact same municipal services that previous generations willingly provided them when they were raising children.

Second, what is going to happen to The Villages and Sun City as they decay? These are not particularly well-constructed or sustainable communities. If the people who live there do not invest in their future -- by repairing infrastructure and building a strong team of municipal employees -- the housing stock and streets will eventually decline. These seniors are fleeing that very problem, but it will follow them if they live long enough. Local communities may yet wind up paying for these developments.

Third, Florida and especially Arizona are already in serious trouble with water usage. These seniors may not be around when water shortages become a fact of daily life, but their children will be.

09 August 2008

A rather interesting reader email about Sun City

From a reader who has lived and worked next door to Sun City for decades. She is now in her early 60s. I found her observations rather interesting and honest.

Years ago as a much younger woman working in the banking industry, I was transferred to a branch located in Sun City West. I had been to Sun City before and we visitors always marveled at how neat and tidy everything was there - much unlike our "lived-in" communities - and Sun City West was no different, just newer.

By that time Sun City was 20 years old and the original residents were by now, 20 years older. Patterns were already becoming evident. People who had retied in the beginning with good health and good resources had experienced some unsettling changes over time. They had often developed life-altering illnesses and because of unforeseen economic conditions, their solid economic base had eroded and they no longer has very solid financial setting. For some, their illnesses required very costly treatment and medication that they hadn't anticipated on.

The young crop of retirees in their late 50s who were healthy, wealthy and active, were drawn to the new Sun City West. They didn't want to live in Sun City which was much slower and too insulated. It was interesting to observe that about-to-be-oldsters didn't and do not want to hang out with official oldsters because they see what the future will be bringing to them and they don't want to face it or to know the realities.

Therefore, since Sun City did not draw or attract newer retirees to replenish the fading popluation, the aging population continues to grow. It is a downward spiral. Add that to the fact that they don't want to invest in the future. Why should they when it won't benefit them? And they need their money now. The fact that spending money today will help forestall some unpleasant realities down the road, eludes them. They bought a false reality. They had earned their money. It was their's. If they lived in a walled-in complex and separated themselves from the outsiders, then they wouldn't have to be paying for things like elementary schools since they didn't have any in their complexes. There would be no loud noises like the ones that kids make and no messes like kids make. It is really like a warped "Stepford" like existence. There was even a horrible quote from one oldster-ette in a recent newspaper article, "All the taxes we do pay, we want to keep and spend on ourselves".