As the City's population changes, so will its services & amenities.
PLYMOUTH'S POPULATION IS AGING
As the City of Plymouth has aged, so has its population. Whereas 20 years ago children and teens represented 29% of the total population, by 2018 less than 25% was under the age of 20. The number of children in the City is about the same today as it was in 2000.
During the same time period, the population of residents over age 50 has increased by 74% - from 13,800 in 2000, to over 24,000 in 2018.
In the long run, we can expect to see this trend continue. While the housing boom of recent years may result in a short term increase in the number of kids, ultimately the population will continue to age as empty nesters retire in place and higher density housing is built.
Plymouth's 2040 Comprehensive Plan addressed the changing demographics of the City in its Vision Statements -
Meet the needs of all age groups within the city, with a particular focus on young people and the aging population.
Enhance and strengthen the sense of community.
And in its Parks Plan Strategies for Future Actions -
The City will enhance programs and services that promote and encourage healthy lifestyles for the entire family.
In the future, Plymouth will focus on leisure and recreational trends for the baby boomer generation.
Senior programs will become a more significant part of programming as that population continues to grow. The City will need to remain abreast of the needs and wants of this age group as the baby boomers come of age with more active lifestyles and different expectations.
Plymouth recognizes that the nation is aging. And the city is no exception. Plymouth will pay increased
attention to the special needs of its aging population in all aspects of community life – housing, all forms of transportation, services and facilities and especially, sense of community. Young people likewise have special needs with respect to the same aspects of community life, most notably housing options and all forms of transportation.
Investment in city amenities and athletic facilities should reflect that shift.
I think there is a more productive way to consider the data than that chosen by HGA. The age groupings above are based on similarity of facilities usage:
o to 5 - Toddlers, who are heavily supervised and use playgrounds and open play.
5 to 14 - Some playgrounds and open play. Organized youth sports with heavy usage of athletic fields and gyms.
15 to 19 - Fewer participants in high school sports. Some organized youth sports requiring athletic fields and gyms.
20 to 24 - Adult exercise options. Walking, weights, classes, some open gym.
25 to 49 - Parents who attend youth and toddler functions; adult exercise options
50 to 74 - Parents of older teens and empty nesters. Lower impact and less stressful adult exercise options. This is a prime demographic for golf, as more time becomes available and people seek lower impact exercise.
75+ - Low impact, low stress adult exercise.
All age categories are flat to declining in population, except the 0 to 5 and over 50 categories. In 2000 there were twice as many 25 to 49 year olds as 50 to 74 year olds, by 2017 the two segments were almost equal. In 2017 the 75+ segment was 2.5 times what it was in 2000.
These numbers suggest two things with respect to Park & Rec amenities:
- The population that is the biggest user of athletic fields and play fields has been relately flat, suggesting that population growth will not drive the need for more facilities. Although the 0 to 5 category increased in 2017 above the 2000 level, a boomlet, if any, will likely be short lived as the city becomes fully built out. Existing neighborhoods yield fewer children than do new neighborhoods.
The greatest demand for age appropriate facilities will be in the over 50 category. The population within that demographic will continue to grow as younger residents decide to continue the trend of staying in their homes and "retiring in place". Golf is an excellent sport for low impact exercise and social interaction.