Monday, July 13, 2015

All my children

My youngest just graduated from Cienega High School.  Soon, we will be empty nesters.  I am a bit sad.

All my children have gone to college out of state.  Two in Chicago, one in Austin, and one in St. Paul.  All of them have lived (or will live) a great college life.  And none of them will return to Vail.


It isn't because we don't have a great relationship - we do.  But they are moving on. They want to live in bigger cities.  They want more opportunities than Vail or even Tucson can provide.

I was thinking about this the other day.  What if one of them wanted to come and live in Vail.  Where would they live?  What would they do?

The truth is there is no place for them here.  If you are a single 20s-something person, is there any place in Vail you could live other than living with your parents?  What would you do with your free time?  Where would you hang out with your friends?

Vail is mostly a community made up of three groups. There are the rugged individualists who moved out here to get away from everything.  There is the Del Webb community that moved out here to retire, and there is a vast group of young families who moved out here for their children to attend a great school district.

But if you are recently graduated from college, Vail isn't for you.

What are some characteristics of a community that these young people are looking for?

One thing is a walkable community. I am thinking of Estes Park or Naperville, IL or any other number of walkable communities.  You can park your car and walk along interesting paths to all sorts of entertainment and food.  There is a night life.  There is activity.  There is safety.

Another thing would be apartment or townhouse housing.  Most of the younger generation do not want big footprints and they definitely don't want to do yard work.  They want almost resort living with pools, spas and workout facilities.

They also want alternative transportation to other locations.  Many in this generation grew up believing that the car was the great evil.  They don't mind riding rail or bus because they believe they are saving the planet.

What does this mean for Vail?  It means that if we really wanted to attract my kids we'd need more restaurants, more bike paths, a walkable downtown, and all of it connected to the City of Tucson or Raytheon through some sort of transit system.

Animal habitats are interesting.  When you put a bunch of logs in a woodpile in the back yard, it attracts mice.  When you have mice, you attract snakes.  People who work in this area say that when you create the habitat, the animals come.  It's almost amazing how they find it.

The same could be said of the younger generation.  If they find a place that meets these criteria, they come.  And they live.

Do what you can to create a Smart Vail.

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