Lone Tree looks at aging

Council may adopt deal with volunteer committee

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Little more than a year after it started a volunteer group to assess such issues, the city council may tuck the Living and Aging Well in Lone Tree committee more securely under its wing. Not everyone is sure that’s the city’s role.

A proposed memorandum of understanding between the city and the Living and Aging Well in Lone Tree ad hoc committee would allow a maximum of three hours of staff time, meeting space and use of the city’s website to advertise the group’s meetings and activities.

“Though it is a committee independent of the city, the city and the committee share the same common goal to improve the quality of life and increase awareness of the issues facing older adults, (so) the city intends to support the committee to make that possible,” the proposed MOU reads.

The idea prompted a lively debate during the council’s Feb 19 work session, with some council members questioning the group’s purpose and the city’s proper role in issues impacting its seniors.

It ended with council directing staff to tweak some of the MOU’s language and bring it back to them for another look.

To date, the Living and Aging Well in Lone Tree group has organized senior lunches with speakers held monthly at the city’s golf course clubhouse. But group members have made it clear that’s only a first step.

The 10-member committee, chaired by former city councilmember Sharon Van Ramshorst, includes a representative from South Suburban Parks and Recreation and First Commercial Bank, among others.

“The group is so new, they’re trying to figure out what they can do without re-inventing the wheel,” said Lone Tree spokeswoman Kristen Knoll.

Councilmember Susan Squyer said she wants the city to establish a framework and better define the group’s goals.

“Right now, all I see is the lunch,” she said. “There’s been no report back to council. Before we make this decision to give staff time and resources, I’d like to better understand.

“It had nothing to do with the topic of the committee; it’s valuable and we’ve had great response.”

Councilmember Jackie Millet thinks the group could, in the long run, save the city considerable work.

“This aging issue is going to be impacting our community, and having an impact on local government,” she said. “I want Lone Tree to be a community where people live well and age well. I don’t care if they’re 3 months old or 100 years old. Why not take a proactive approach? I see this group really having direct feedback to our city.”

Attendance at the group’s monthly lunches has grown steadily since they began, with speaker topics ranging from memoir-writing to Social Security.

“Forty people are attending these lunches and they are talking about issues that are important to them,” Mayor Jim Gunning said. “I believe they are making a difference.”

Douglas County’s senior population reportedly is the second fastest-growing in the country, increasing by 178 percent from 2000 to 2010.