Independence has a higher percentage of residents aged 65+ than the Kansas City Metro area as whole and will continue to see this demographic increase in the future. The Mid-America Regional Council included the City in their list of communities to receive assistance in developing materials to share with the City Council and Planning Commission in the summer of 2015 that outlined the aging demographics of the City, the region and nation as well as introducing materials available to assist cities in meeting the changing needs of older residents. Included are concepts related to transportation, walkable neighborhoods and other amenities.
In 2016, the City of Independence met all necessary requirements of “Community for All Age Awareness” for Bronze level recognition and on June 20, 2016, the City Council passed Resolution No. 6109 supporting the Community for All Ages program and submitting an application for the Bronze level recognition by the Mid-America Regional Council. Thereafter, the City continued to carry out the Community for All Ages awareness program, and in 2018 began the assessment and implementation component that were necessary for the Silver and Gold designations.
Silver recognition required the Planning Commission to assemble and conduct a “Community for All Ages Assessment” of the city’s existing policies in contrast with an evaluation of related subject matter themes. In a series of six meetings, the respective subject matter themes were examined: Public Outdoor Spaces and Buildings; Housing and Commercial Development; Transportation and Mobility; Social Inclusion Communication and Participation; Civic Engagement and Employment, and Community and Health Services. The meetings were held and overseen by the assistance of Mid-America Regional Council, running from April 2018 through July 2018.
The assessment was deemed essential to achieving optimal “Age Friendly” community standards. City staff set out to accomplish the recommended action items and to report annual achievements. Accordingly, the city’s implementation of the said performance standards align directly with Community for All Ages concepts and goals and strategies found in the Independence for All Strategic Plan and the Imagine Independence 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
Moreover, the implementation efforts of the strategic plan and comprehensive plan satisfy the Gold recognition requirements. These combined efforts position the City of Independence to apply for both the Silver and Gold Community for All Ages designation through Mid-America Regional Council. The application deadline is November 1, 2018.