Lenox tops county with 35 percent senior population
LENOX — Despite a slight boost in the total population, as compiled by the annual municipal census, the town remains, by far, No. 1 in seniors, with 35 percent of residents 65 and older.
While the total of 5,264 represents a modest gain over last year's census figure of 5,087, it continues to reflect an overall downward trend from 5,432 in 2012 and 5,704 in 2010, according to the town's annual reports.
Countywide, the percentage of seniors came in at 21 percent, a U.S. census study found. Among the towns with higher percentages of resident 65 and older are Adams, Alford, Egremont, Richmond and Stockbridge, but all are in the 22 to 24 percent range.
Because Lenox is home to at least a half dozen senior citizen facilities ranging from assisted living to nursing homes and subsidized housing for older residents, the population mix tilts toward 65 and up, but also remains relatively stable.
Residents 65 and over numbered 1,982 in this year's count, tallied last month, compared to 1,803 the previous year. There are about 1,350 in town who are 35 and under.
The biggest overall population drop came during the depths of the Great Recession, when the local census, known as the street list at Town Hall, plunged from 5,704 in 2010 to 5,091 in 2011.
There were 22 local births last year — up from 19 in 2014 and 14 in 2013 — and 142 deaths.
Although there are no precise figures for second-home residents, the summertime population is estimated at about 10,000, double the year-round total. About one-quarter of the town's properties are believed to be occupied by part-time residents, according to Town Hall estimates.
Looking back, the town's population peaked at 6,523 in 1980, a total that included about 1,200 residents of the Bible Speaks Church off Kemble Street, the home of Shakespeare & Company for the past 15 years.
When the Bible Speaks departed in 1987 after the organization filed for bankruptcy, the 1990 census showed a sharp drop of nearly 25 percent.
As Lenox makes plans to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its founding in 1767, the annual Town Hall report notes that 15 families resided in Lenox that year, the minimum required for incorporation as a town.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.
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