My neighbor across the street, Kurt, put his house up for sale this week. His kids and our kids were the same age. His kids have grown up, the couple divorced a couple of years ago and now he's heading to China. It's that way up and down the street; the kids have grown up and if the parents stuck around, they're getting older and grayer. Walking the dog this morning, I realized I don't know anyone in the neighborhood anymore. It was the kids of the neighborhood who made it a neighborhood.
It wasn't always this way, of course, it was a neighborhood of screams and giggles -- at least after school got out. And in the late afternoon/early evening, the cheering from the park made the neighborhood feel like a neighborhood.
The city has a big multi-field athletic complex now, so nobody plays in the parks anymore.
This apparently is not something that's only happening in Woodbury, it's happening in suburbs all over America. They've grown up, and gotten gray.
(h/t: Bob Moffit)
That's just the way it works. Eventually the houses will turn over & young families will replace the gray hairs. My neighborhood is mixed. Both our immediate neighbors are approaching retirement and have adult children and young grandchildren. But within a block there are multiple families like mine: newer to the neighborhood, with young children.
It doesn't always work that way, though, because the population was primarily driven by the Baby Boomers having kids.
I think you have to look farther off on the horizon, Bob.
I grew up in Golden Valley in the late 50's 60's and early 70's. It was like a hatchery. Kids everywhere as new homes were built. Our parents gradually moved out in the 80's and 90's as young families moved in. Even now, there are maybe 10% holdouts of my parent''s generation including my mom. The neighborhood is now a real mix. It took close to 20 years after the hatchery generation grew up before it really started to look different.
The best neighborhoods are the mixed generation ones, like our old one in Highland Park, St. Paul. We would still be there, except the poor schools drove us to the burbs. I would like to move back into town in the next few years if we can afford it....Hopefully the schools out here in Shoreview will still be good. Pass those levies!!
I agree that this is the way things work, though I think it does show the fragility of the suburban style of development. Can these places remain strong communities once they have a normal age distribution among their residents? The initial pulse of young people decades ago glossed over some of the problems these places inherently have.
Most suburbs have relied on growth on the outer edges of town to financially sustain themselves. Roseville is lucky in that regard since they have a huge number of businesses in town to draw money from. Some other places fall into crisis mode once they fill out their borders.
The suburbs need to start growing upward now, replacing old homes with denser housing and putting in the town centers they never really had. It's not really possible to go back to the '50s, or back to the '70s/'80s with the echo boomers, but if you increase the population of a neighborhood, you might be able to get a larger number of kids again.
Another option is moving into Minneapolis or St. Paul proper. As Lily mentioned, a lot of people moved out of the central cities because of worries about schools. If you don't have kids in school anymore, it might be best to move into the central cities. They have more people around, more sidewalks, and proper street grids to let people get to where they want to go more directly.
The PBS show touched on the fact many people don't WANT to leave their homes -- there's an emotional attachment to the memories.
You know me...and let's look at it in a positive manner...us "oldies but goodies" now have a new type of family...with furbabies...they are developing relationships, and so are we. While we've been neighbors (so to speak) for more than 15 years Bob...I have known your trophy wife for so much longer...and you were always the guy building the plane in your garage...but that's changing...and I like it. We may be considering a move out of the neighborhood also...don't really need this much house, though the dogs really love the yard and the park...when I moved in I could see Valley Creek Road from my back yard and loved Saturday mornings waking up early to the sound of kids on the soccer field...they don't play there anymore, you're right, it's really too bad. The neighborhood was so much more alive, even with new young families, it's just not the same anymore. I do love our long time neighbors though...and it's been a time in my life I don't think I'd trade for anything different. Keep up the great stories...let's hear about our aging neighbors and the struggle to find paid work now that we've spent our "better, younger, stronger years raising our kids with no salary. How do we convince an employer that the experience is valuable??