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An Aging Muskego May Provide Key to Decisions

The median age has gone up nine years since 1990, and households with children have seen a sharp decline. How do we keep Muskego 'young', and how should the city serve its growing, older population?

If you were an enthusiastic school parent, and you were left scratching your head over why the at the polls, the answer may be in the census numbers.

Parks Director Craig Anderson referred to demographics as he was looking to see who recreation programming should serve, and found more answers than he bargained for.

"We've been seen a leveling off of the younger age groups in attendance to our programs, so we wanted to take a look at who we are serving, and who is currently living in the city," he said during the Monday Park and Recreation Board meeting. "What we found to be somewhat surprising, is that we aren't seeing the young families moving to Muskego."

Anderson found statistics that may surprise some. While many may feel Muskego is a place where young families come to live, attend school and play, we are actually getting older.

Since 1990

  • Children 5 to 9 years of age has grown 31.71 percent; residents 85 and older has grown 144.16 percent.
  • Median age has gone from 33.3 years to 42.4 years
  • Households with residents over the age of 65 has grown 47.42 percent; in contrast, households with children under 18 has declined by 31.73 percent
  • Residents in the 25-34 age group (those perhaps most likely to start raising families) declined by nearly 24 percent

In light of the school referendum, Anderson said it may be that older residents - who are more likely to vote in elections - provided the resounding 'no' vote that defeated the Muskego-Norway Schools attempt to build a new school and renovate many others.

While it could be assumed that these numbers may not be favorable to park proponents, Anderson told Patch that it points to the need to draw younger families to the city.

"It's like a job interview. When we looked at cities before we decided where to raise our family, we looked at things like the parks, and the state of the schools. You come through town, and there's Tess Corners Elementary and Muskego Elementary, two of our oldest buildings. People have to wonder if there's a commitment being made by the community," he said.

In addition, Anderson said the news of the defeated referendum as well as the is heard by people who are considering moving into the city, and can send the wrong message to younger families.

However, the economy has also had an impact on all real estate, keeping people where they are instead of selling in a down market. The effect can also explain why seniors are choosing to stay in their Muskego homes, and why younger families perhaps aren't ready to  sell their 'starter home' to move into the city.

Anderson said the market won't stay down, and the city will need to be ready for the uptick when the economy comes around.

At the same time, he suggested that more attention will need to be paid to the older residents of the city in the form of more programming throughout the year. Anderson also told the board that consideration will have to be given in future years for a dedicated senior center, and didn't rule out use of use of  existing or future school facilities.

"I think if we look at schools as education centers by day, and community centers by night, that becomes more appealing to a wider group of residents," he explained.

Laura Mishefske March 15, 2012 at 11:22 PM
i think a dedicated senior center is a great idea.
Denise Konkol (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 04:23 AM
It's funny this should come up....earlier I received an email asking if Muskego had one, and outside of the Regency or Tudor Oaks, which are not really what we're talking about here, there isn't one. I've noticed that in our neighborhood, only two homes with elderly residents have been put up for sale in the past 13 years.
Diane Schlosser March 16, 2012 at 01:29 PM
How has school enrollment has been impacted by these demographics? I would like to see a followup article that addresses this.
Kammy March 16, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Regarding the park on the lake--converting the Cherek home to a community center that could also house a senior center would be very appealing. Also, remember that these statistics are slightly skewed as Muskego has Tudor Oaks, Regency, Woodview Senior Apartments, and at least one other senior housing facility and a nursing home. All of these raise the age demographic. It was also assumed that as people age, they would opt to move into a condo. As the newer condos are often more expensive to live in than existing homes, many retirees opt to stay in their homes. Seeking to contract for yard work can turn out to be less expensive than moving into a condo and paying association fees. And so, we stay.
Jeff Leszczynski March 17, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Here's a thought...the current schools are very poorly equipped for ADA standards...which also means it's harder for seniors to navigate thru. New or remodeled school buildings would have to be more ADA compliant in order to facilitate the seniors needs...so the next time the school referendum comes thru, perhaps the school board needs to make concessions to offer the spaces as senior facilities as well????

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