Approving the rezoning for the new Willow Spring High was little more than a formality, but the board’s unanimous vote Oct. 18 cleared the way for Fuquay-Varina to get a second high school.
It was the rare rezoning that generated enthusiasm from the board of commissioners. They agreed to rezone the parcel from its residential use, as part of the nearby South Lakes subdivision, to permit institutional development on the site.
Willow Spring High School will be built on 59 acres at the southwest corner of Old Honeycutt and Kennebec roads. The Wake County Public School System has owned the land for about two years.
Once the new school is built, the aging Fuquay-Varina High School will be shut down and its students temporarily housed at Willow Spring High from 2019 to 2021 while the old school is under construction.
Fuquay-Varina will have two high schools operating in town by the 2021-22 school year.
“You will definitely continue to see that Fuquay-Varina is welcoming you with open arms,” Mayor pro tem Blake Massengill said to the WCPSS officials at Oct. 18’s meeting. “This will be a friendly, amicable relationship. I’ve read in the newspaper that some towns aren’t always friendly to you, but you’ll get the red carpet here. This has been a long time coming.”
In nearby Apex, a middle school site plan generated debate this summer after the town and the school system disagreed about who would be responsible for improvements to roads around the school.
Kenneth Haywood, a lawyer who often represents the school system in school siting matters, had similarly warm words for Fuquay-Varina.
“We’ve heard about the way the town is moving forward with a new arts center, how it’s moving forward with its branding and marketing,” Haywood said. “I’ve lived in Raleigh my entire life, but everything I’ve heard tonight makes me think I might need to reconsider.”
The school board originally chose the name Kennebec Road High School but changed it after the town asked the board to reconsider naming it one of the other proposed options: Willow Spring High, for a small community east of Fuquay-Varina.
The new building will be modeled after Rolesville High School’s design and have a capacity 2,200 to 2,300 students. Fuquay-Varina High School’s current capacity is slightly lower, at about 2,100 students.
Key to city
Earlier in the meeting, Mayor John Byrne presented a key to the city to Natalie Perkins, whose agency, Clean Design, led the development of Fuquay-Varina’s new logo and the town’s rebranding efforts earlier this year.
Byrne said their work had made a name for Fuquay-Varina around the state – particularly the town’s new slogan, “a dash more,” which pays homage to the town’s hyphenated history as two small, tobacco-farming towns that joined together in 1963.
The new logo and branding replaced town imagery that’s been around for about 30 years.
“We’ve always known we were a dash more, but we didn’t always know how to say it,” Byrne said. “This is the biggest thing to happen in Fuquay-Varina for quite a while.”
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan