Below is a written statement presented at the development forum:
Good evening, I’m Jackie Kates, project coordinator of Age-Friendly Teaneck, a community initiative established to ensure that Teaneck residents can age-in-place in their homes and community.
Teaneck needs to think and plan differently for a population that has already changed significantly and will continue to do so.
The township’s overall population grew by 3.5 percent between 2000 and 2016, but its over- 65 population grew by 22.6 percent during the same time period. About 35 percent of households now have at least one person over age 65 – yet most of Teaneck’s housing stock was built to serve families with younger children. Teaneck’s population is aging, and we’re not prepared for it. Many older people can no longer take care of or afford their large homes, or they need amenities to make their homes safer and more comfortable, as well as greater community outreach and social opportunities to prevent isolation.
Additional housing and transportation options would serve more than the older adult population. Studies show that fewer people between the ages of 16 and 34 are driving – or even getting their drivers’ licenses. Millennials are increasingly priced out of the rental apartment market and instead are continuing to live in their parents’ homes for longer periods of time than previous generations did.
This time of building and change in Teaneck can be a time of opportunity to examine how well our infrastructure meets the needs of residents of all ages today – and in the future.
The following recommendations are based on Age-Friendly Teaneck’s two+ years of discussions with residents and policy and planning experts:
Teaneck should update its master plan to address the growing older population, and the evolving lifestyles of a population that wants more walkable neighborhoods, less dependence on cars, and a more affordable and diverse housing stock.
Limited housing options contribute to high housing costs, even for those of moderate means. We should encourage more mixed-use development, to fill the housing gap and to help revitalize our business districts, which would benefit from having more residents living within walking distance of stores and restaurants.
Adopting universal design standards for all new or renovated residential development would lead to more barrier-free homes where people could remain as they age or if they have a disability.
Home-sharing agreements should be supported as a possible alternative for those who want to remain in their large single-family homes. Two older adults sharing a home could cut costs for both; a younger person living with an older adult can help resolve upkeep and maintenance needs.
Permitting accessory dwelling units on lots that are large enough could allow aging family members to live alongside loved ones who can offer care and support. Creating zoning and density incentives could encourage builders to construct townhomes and duplexes that are better suited to older residents seeking to downsize or millennials seeking a first-time home.
New transportation solutions that shift away from designs that foster car-dependency are needed.
The township has endorsed Complete Streets, an approach that encourages street and sidewalks designs that better serve all users – walkers, cyclists, commuters as well as drivers. But we need that approach to be incorporated into all township plans – from small street resurfacing projects to major intersection re-designs to large commercial redevelopment.
There should be greater attention to pedestrian safety, including high visibility crosswalks near schools and houses of worship; more crosswalks with dedicated pedestrian crossing time, such as the four-way crossing at Cedar Lane and Garrison; and more pedestrian activated signals at busy intersections, and better lighting at bus stops.
With every new development, or redevelopment project, the Township must require the developer to install sidewalks and pedestrian amenities.
Additional strategies to link residents to public transit options are needed.
And with every new development, it is essential for decision-makers to consider the impact on older adults, if Teaneck is truly to remain a great place to grow up and to grow old.
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Who We Are
Age-Friendly Teaneck formed in 2016 with this mission in mind: A great place to grow up should be a great place to grow old.