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Aging in Place - The BIG Picture Citizens Academy IV Looks at Growing Older in Huntsville

February 12, 2015

(Huntsville, AL) - More than 12,000 people in America are hitting retirement age every day. As life expectancy improves, the percentage of our population 65 and over will continue to increase. Huntsville is no exception. In 1990, one out of every ten people in Huntsville were over the age of 65. By the year 2030, it will be one in six. With this "graying of America," how can Huntsville respond to the demands of an aging population? How will we manage mobility challenges and make it easier for people to live independently? How can we ensure a great quality of life for our seniors?

The City will tackle these questions in The BIG Picture Citizens Academy IV on "Aging in Place," on Wednesday, February 18th from 2-4 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the first floor of Huntsville City Hall, 308 Fountain Circle.

Guiding the Aging in Place presentation and interactive exercises will be guest speaker Whit Blanton, FAICP, vice-president and founding principal of Orlando-based Renaissance Planning Group. Blanton has 25 years of experience in multimodal transportation planning, policy and community design for more walkable and livable communities. Blanton's work for the American Planning Association led to APA's Policy Guide on Aging in Community in 2014.

"Blanton will bring a great deal of insight and expertise to this conversation, particularly as we focus on transportation and housing," said Dennis Madsen, Long-Range Planner for the City of Huntsville. "We're a car dependent community, and as people age and are less comfortable driving, they can become isolated from their home, friends, family and faith groups. They have been in their single family homes for decades, and if they want to downsize, we simply don't have enough good transportation and housing options that allow people to remain close to the neighbors and support systems they have enjoyed."

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle says that when people lose their regular opportunities for socialization, it has an incredibly negative impact on their quality of life. "We have an opportunity in our comprehensive master planning process to take steps that will help our citizens age well and maintain a vibrant and active lifestyle," said Mayor Battle.

Those unable to attend the Citizens Academy may view the program live on HSV-TV, the City of Huntsville's TV channel, Comcast 16 or WOW 42, or online at huntsvilleal.gov.

This is the City of Huntsville's fourth Citizens Academy on major topics that will impact the new comprehensive master plan. Topics covered to date include Ditto Landing Revitalization, Economic Development - the Future of Commercial Development, Economic Development - Greyfields and Strip Recovery, and Neighborhood Revitalization. The fifth and final Citizens Academy will be held in March with a focus on Transportation. A final wrap up session in May will offer a broad overview of all the data and input collected. The City of Huntsville Planning Department will begin drafting the comprehensive master plan this summer. Following its completion, the plan will be presented to the public with the understanding that it will remain a work in progress with ongoing updates and revisions each year. This process allows the City to keep pace with planning best practices and better respond to changing environments in the City.

"We don't want a comprehensive plan that sits on a shelf," said Mayor Battle. "This is a living, breathable plan that allows us to update it annually and respond to the changing needs of our citizens and our community."

More information can be found on The BIG Picture web site.

### For more information, please contact:

Kelly Cooper Schrimsher, Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor, 256-427-5006 (w), kelly.schrimsher@huntsvilleal.gov

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