Park City senior citizens to elected officials: ‘Do something for us’
Several people approached Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday night pressing issues important to senior citizens, including the availability of housing for people who want to age in the community.
They appeared unscheduled and the elected officials were not prepared to discuss the topic in any depth, but it seems likely there will be more detailed talks later as a result of the appearance on Thursday.
The elected officials only occasionally address issues exclusive to senior citizens, such as at times when policies are crafted for the Park City Senior Citizens Center. Many issues important to senior citizens, such as City Hall’s social equity efforts, are also seen as having wider appeal across age groups.
The mayor and City Council on Thursday received input about the desires of senior citizens to remain in Park City as they grow older. One of the speakers, Dick Welsh, told the elected officials senior citizens have given to the community over the years.
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“They want to remain in their own homes,” Welsh said.
He added: “We want to age in place.”
Welsh mentioned the possibility of creating an inventory of available housing as something that could assist senior citizens.
Another speaker, Mary Demkowicz, told the elected officials she wants to stay in Park City rather than moving to places like Salt Lake City or Heber City. She indicated she wants the mayor and City Council to hold a discussion at a later time about issues important to senior citizens.
“We have built this town. We never left,” she said, urging the elected officials to “do something for us.”
Demkowicz received applause from the audience.
The elected officials were also told senior citizens need support, senior housing is desired and the continuum of care — the stages of assistance for seniors — must be addressed. They were pressed for details, but the meeting on Thursday did not appear to be the forum for that sort of talk.
Park City over time has grown older as people who arrived in the 1970s and 1980s aged, followed by retirees who opted to move to the community for the recreational and cultural opportunities. The demographics are also believed to have trended older as a result of Park City’s expensive real estate market, which has priced many younger people out of the community. The U.S. Census Bureau in 2017 estimated 21.4 percent of the population of Park City was 60 or older.
There have been discussions over the years about whether Park City and Summit County provide adequate services for the senior citizens. The Senior Citizens Center, as an example, is only open limited hours. There has been some progress over time, but there seems to be the possibility of more aggressive action as Park City continues to pursue a broad range of social equity programs and policies.
The elected officials expressed interest in discussing senior issues during meetings with Summit County and the Park City School District. Those meetings are held on a regular basis and often cover topics that stretch through the jurisdictions.
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“We’re kind of turning the corner … and it’s now time to maybe put out the welcome mat in a careful and thoughtful manner,” said Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau.”