As growth continues to buffet this community, town leaders say there are a host of things that should be addressed in order to get ready.
As Wendell Falls and other residential developments continue to build out, more people will call Wendell home, and, largely, commissioners believe, they will be a younger set with different priorities than people who have called Wendell home for generations.
They will place an emphasis on a good experience more than material possessions. They will place a bigger emphasis on time and they will look for opportunities that are easier to access, Mayor Ginna Gray said. She was repeating comments made at a recent real estate conference in Raleigh, but she noted that those changing demographics will impact Wendell as well.
Leading the way in that growth will be the Wendell Falls neighborhood. The 4,000-home behemoth figures to change the personality of Wendell in a lot of ways. Gray said she wants to the town to find ways to bring the neighborhood and the traditional parts of Wendell closer together.
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“We really need a plan for how we are going to connect the two areas. But it’s important to take a big perspective on this. Wendell Falls is a neighborhood in Wendell when it comes right down to it,” Gray said.
Commissioners say they worry about Wendell Falls residents associating with Knightdale for their shopping and community experiences.
“The biggest driver in terms of where people associate is going to be the schools their kids go to,” Commissioner John Boyette said.
But getting ready for that growth will be expensive. “We’ve done all the no-cost, low-cost things that we could do. Everything else costs money,” Gray said.
Town leaders have long said that growth will help provide additional revenues to pay for some of the larger expenses that come with growth. Commercial growth is beginning to take place in Wendell Falls.
Those costs could include growing the town’s parks system, creating circulator bus routes and, even building a new town hall large enough to provide for enough staff to meet the customer service expectations of the town’s new residents.
Commissioners have talked only in vague terms about the possibility of issuing bonds to help pay for some of the large-dollar needs elected officials have identified, but at Saturday’s retreat they didn’t express a lot of support for bonds.
“Do we need to be thinking about how to use debt to meet those needs,” moderator Lydian Altman asked.
Commissioners also say it will be important for the town to build stronger working relationships with other government agencies, including the Capital Area Metropolitan Planing Organization, the city of Raleigh and the Wake County school system.