Lebanon Township has come a very long way over the last fifty plus years. There was a land rush back in the late sixties and early seventies which turned our agrarian township into a residential success. While still a third-tier suburb, Apple Valley continues a tradition of solid sensible growth that has made it an ideal place to raise our kids.
We’ve been here for forty plus years. That’s longer than my childhood back in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. Sharon and I are still in the same home we bought back in 1977 for $49,500 and were just glad we could afford the monthly payments. It’s the only home our kids ever knew growing up.
When Sharon and I first moved to Apple Valley, Cedar Avenue was a two-lane blacktop roadway that could easily handle the daily traffic of our infant suburb. It edged alongside the bones of the old Eaton’s Ranch.
Years earlier, that abode to ranching in the 40s was the site of many high school hayrides and bonfire soirees. For my Cretin chums and me it was beyond the end of nowhere and about as far from Saint Paul as any of us had ever ventured.
By the early 1980s, Eaton’s Ranch was one of the last standing vestiges of old Lebanon Township as it was called back then. That farmstead along with a few others were all the buildings that remained of the pioneering years of the community.
Back then, new urbanism was all the rage among city planners.
Eventually the intersection of Cedar Avenue and 42nd Street became the core from which retail and now multi-family housing spread out. It’s called TOD, transit-orientated development, and it seems to have caught on in a big way downtown.
Back then, I was on the Apple Valley Planning Commission and we were approached by one of the first stay-in-place developers. The idea was that a person or couple could rent a senior apartment, then, when the time came, move into assisted living on the same campus and into finally into memory care. Three moves with little distance traveled. Interesting idea I thought but not for me.
Forty years later, there are a lot of folks who have come to embrace the idea. Many of our friends are at that stage in their lives where a decision will have to be made soon about where to live until… In years past, it usually came down to stay at home or move into a nursing home when you couldn’t maintain your residence or failing health left you in need of medical assistance. . We have a number of friends who have opted for over fifty-five or senior specific housing. They all seem to enjoy the newfound comradery, social aspects, and security of their new homes.
At this stage in their lives, these friends and neighbors are shifting over to an easier lifestyle. They’ve found someone else to do the shoveling, cut the grass and rake the leaves. In other words, an HOA or management company to do the heavy lifting.
The options for housing styles are almost endless. There are senior apartments, condominiums, cooperative buildings, ‘stay-in-place’ residences and a host of other hybrids to feed the growing hunger for new living options.
Dell Webb made a name for himself with some of the first senior housing developments in the country. The Coachella Valley alone has several huge communities centered around golf courses. Sharon’s brother lives in ‘The Villages’ in Florida which is the largest retirement community in the country; 140,000 residents and growing.
Despite all those housing choices offered to seniors, Sharon and I have opted to stay in place. Apple Valley was a good place for the kids to grow up and for us to grow old. Sharon has her art gallery on the walls and hallway. I have my office, my writing space, and a porch for my quiet time.
Our home is a reflection of our lives; ever changing, adapting, and evolving. It’s our nest, our cocoon and a place to reflect on a life well lived.
It’s our grandchildren’s second home and a wonderful gathering spot for friends. It is us and we are happy here. Isn’t that what it’s all about as this stage in our lives?