The City of Lake Geneva’s demographic future is about to change. Earlier in this century a couple of successful senior housing projects were built near the intersection of Curtis Street and Townline Road, but further attempts at senior housing developments after 2008 have been stalled by the economy, and by the opposition of area residents. Developments were planned or built by Hummel, Geneva Ridge, Southland Farms, Lake Hillmoor, and Symphony Bay. But now with Symphony Bay joining the Golden Years Senior Living Development, the improving economy, and the expanding aging baby boomer generation, the temporary delay on senior developments is coming to an end.
As waves endlessly washing against a shoreline will eventually wash away that shoreline, the repeated attempts to build senior developments in Lake Geneva will eventually overcome opposition and seal Lake Geneva’s eventual fate as a major senior citizen retirement location for the residents of the Chicago area. Even a small development can add about 1,000 senior residents to the City of Lake Geneva almost instantly. This ‘graying’ of Lake Geneva will alter the control and direction of the city because 90% of the current residents 65 and older vote; whereas, only 42% of eligible voters below 65 vote. This skewed voting pattern gives seniors, who today only comprise 15% of the population, 32% of the votes. Adding another 900 senior voters from a Symphony Bay development may increase the senior voting percentage to 47%. Adding a .4% increase per year due to the aging baby boomer generation, the seniors voting in Lake Geneva could reach 63% by 2020.
With that we might expect an increase in more passive, or sit down, indoor entertainment (shows, theaters, plays, restaurants, coffee shops, virtual reality, etc.) along with senior health oriented projects and less stressful activities, such as walking. Expansion of active outdoor entertainment for the younger generations (skateboards, Frisbee golf, Zip lining, water skiing, wave runners, rock climbing, volleyball, running, skiing, hiking, biking, etc.) may be on the wane. If you look carefully, you can see that this trend is already beginning to become apparent. But the real unknown is what other changes will occur as the demographic population changes and control slowly shifts away from the current local residents towards transported seniors from the Chicago area.
To what extent will they adapt to Lake Geneva? Or will they adapt Lake Geneva to fit their needs? The perception and the demeanor of the City of Lake Geneva has changed several times over its history, and it will continue to change as it incorporates new people who move here. Lake Geneva is less exclusive and more accepting than in the past, and that trend continues today. What the future will bring is the true unknown “unknown,” although the city will likely adapt and adjust to the concerns and issues of new residents as they arrive, or it may not. The future cannot be changed, but the present can be prepared to influence the direction of that future.