Sometime this Friday, Wake County will add another digit, another comma and a new level of prestige to its population total: 1 million residents.
Commissioners celebrated Monday by sending two cakes decorated with demographic data to the courthouse lobby to be shared with the populace.
“The next goal is to be here when we hit 2 million,” joked Commission Chair Phil Matthews.
Gen Xers and older shouldn’t bet on it. That milestone is expected in 2054.
It’s impossible to know who will be Wake resident No. 1,000,000, but it is possible to gauge approximately when he or she will arrive by knowing the average growth rate, which is 62 people a day.
Commissioners also learned Monday that the majority of growth comes from net migration, meaning 40 people move to Wake compared with the 22 who come naturally.
Of those 40, 22 come from other states, most notably New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The other 18 are split nine apiece among foreign countries and other North Carolina counties.
“It is a milestone,” said County Manager Jim Hartmann. “A million people puts us in another category.”
But Karen Rindge from the planned growth advocacy group Wake Up Wake County noted that 100,000 people arrived in the past four years, and she urged commissioners to build more than population.
“This includes addressing transportation challenges through expanded public transit and smart land use planning, ensuring clean and plentiful drinking water supply and adequately funding our teachers and growing public schools,” Rindge said.
In other action, the commissioners voted unanimously to award $1.5 million in hotel and restaurant taxes to Naismith Legacy Park in Knightdale. Another $1.5 million is reserved for next year. The basketball-themed park would include two hoops “villages” with 18 field houses and overnight accommodations for youth camps.
The Wake County Competition Center in Morrisville also received $3 million in funding. It would include two NHL-sized hockey rinks, volleyball and gymnastics facilities and practice space.
Two other projects whose proposals had advanced did not receive funds Monday. Commissioners voted 4-3 against giving $1 million to the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at N.C. State University. The museum had asked for $2 million. Commissioner Joe Bryan said the museum would boost hotel occupancy mainly by hosting wedding receptions, space he did not want the county to fund. The three other Republican commissioners joined him in a “no” vote, with the panel’s three Democrats.
The North Main Athletic Campus in Holly Springs also failed to get county money. It had sought more than $2 million, and the four-member Republican majority voted against a motion to grant $1 million. Bryan said it did not meet the criteria of generating 10,000 hotel nights.