MAYOR ASKS NEIGHBORS TO LEAD NASHVILLE LIVABILITY PROJECT

Livability Project to implement recommendations following year-long study on the increase of retiring Baby Boomers.

Mayor Karl Dean today announced the formation of the Nashville Livability Project after receiving a report from the Livable Community Task Force, which spent a year studying the impact retiring Baby Boomers and other aging Nashvillians will have on the city over the next two decades.

The task force determined that the city will need to make significant changes in how it houses, cares for and serves residents to accommodate the changing demographics. Dean asked Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors, who led the task force, to oversee the Livability Project, which will coordinate the task force recommendations with Metro departments and community groups.

“The Nashville Livability Project gives us a way to focus not just on the immediate events proposed in this report. It also gives us a way to plan for the broader changes that will leave a longer-lasting imprint on the city,” Mayor Dean said in accepting the task force recommendations.

Dean also announced plans to immediately take on the report’s recommendations to focus on fitness by beginning a series of monthly walks around the city to draw attention to the benefits of exercise. He said the walking program will begin during Walk Nashville week starting Oct. 3.

The task force spent 12 months studying the city’s preparedness for the “graying” of its citizenry. Neighbors told the mayor that it will take short-term fixes, long-term commitment and cooperation with a range of partners to ensure that “Nashville remains a great city not just for this generation, but for those years to come.”

In 2000, the number of Nashvillians ages 21-34 outnumbered those more than 65 years old by more than a 2 to 1 margin, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2018, the two age groups will be nearly equal in number, according to projections presented to the task force by Dr. Garrett Harper with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. He also forecasted that by 2018, Davidson County will experience a net gain of 31,000 people over age 65 and more than 13,000 will be over 75 years old.

The task force found that Nashville seniors will have increasing longevity, political influence, economic impact and social significance, and they will have higher education levels than current seniors. The task force also concluded that the need for health and community support services will increase.

It recommended that the mayor initiate the Nashville Livability Project to create a timeline for implementing the proposals and work as an interagency group to better coordinate community planning.

Task force subcommittees proposed immediate steps, planning steps and long-term goals for five areas: health and wellness, housing, safety and support services, transportation and mobility, and workforce and civic engagement. Health and wellness recommendations include:

Implementing a “Get Fit Day” – a city-wide celebration of fitness and healthy lifestyle activities;
Creating a web-based health and wellness site that would include a self-assessment component, education and event postings;
Supporting policies and legislation to expand and fund home and community-based options.

Housing recommendations include:

Targeting economic stimulus weatherization funds to homes that need modifications;
Increasing the budget for the tax relief program;
Establishing “Universal Design” standards that can be used as models for future housing developments.

Safety and support services recommendations include:

Completing neighborhood-based needs assessments to determine their livability;
Compiling neighborhood-specific service and information resource lists;
Considering a senior registration process that provides for automatic telephone alerts about various topics and during emergencies.

Transportation and mobility recommendations include:

Adopting a “Complete Streets” policy;
Assuring that Wayfinding and Directional signage meets existing needs;
Exploring creation of mini-hubs for public transit system.

Workforce and civic engagement recommendations include:

Holding a conference on the challenges and opportunities presented by a changing workforce;
Encouraging employers to support and expand policies to support caregivers;
Offering incentives to attract and retain all levels of health care providers specializing in elder care.

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