The Department of Transportation held off on creating signs marking Wendell Falls Parkway, waiting for a possible name change town officials are now discussing.
But if commissioners approve town staff’s recommendations, the wait will have been for naught.
Town planners are working to bring a resolution to commissioners that would rename the entirety of the Wendell Falls corridor, which currently has four names over about a 4-mile stretch of road. Planning staff wants to extend the Wendell Falls Parkway name.
Right now, the road is named Buffalo Street from Wendell Boulevard to the edge of town, where it picks up the name Poole Road. That moniker is attached to the roadway all the way to Central Baptist Church, where it turns into Richardson Road. At its intersection with Martin Pond Road, the name changes again to Wendell Falls Parkway.
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“The number-one reason (we’re looking at this) is from a public safety standpoint,” said Wendell Planning Director David Bergmark. “To have one uniform name for a corridor is more preferred for a health and safety use.”
The town held a meeting last week to gather input from residents, but Bergmark said the meeting wasn’t attended well enough to glean any sort of consensus about what residents wanted.
But the town planning department thinks the change to Wendell Falls Parkway would be the easiest change for emergency and county departments.
To rename a street, it must be approved by Wake County addressing to make sure it is not a duplicate name. That helps emergency responders and other services that need to quickly and accurately find addresses.
“There are already other ‘Richardsons.’” Bergmark said of the decision not to continue the Richardson name. “When they realigned Poole Road, it’s into Richardson Road and then to stay toward town, you have to turn right. Buffalo is a very common name with different spellings, (and) we have north and south and there are already addressing issues for the existing Buffalo homes. ”
Bergmark also said addresses on Buffalo Street are on the wrong side of the road but that was not a factor in deciding that name.
Wendell Falls Parkway has already been approved by the county.
In addition to fulfilling requirments set by the county, Bergmark said he thinks the change would help market the town a little better.
“Wendell Falls has Wendell in it and that’s beneficial to us,” he said. “There are still some people who (live close by) and don’t know who we are.”
He also said keeping the stretch of road one name will help visitors and make it easier to travel through the town.
Newland Communities, which is now developing Wendell Falls, favors keeping the subdivision’s name in the mix.
“We’ve been working with the town of Wendell and we support what the town wants to do. We’ve made no secret of the fact that we’d like to see the Wendell Falls name remain,” said Newland’s vice president of Operations Laurie Ford. “But at the end of the day, the name of the road isn’t as important as our relationship with the town.”
When the first Wendell Falls developer was foreclosed upon in 2008, Wendell Falls Parkway sat unfinished until 2013 when Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) finished the project.
Until that point, the Wendell Falls Parkway exit ramp on U.S. 64 led to nothing except 1,100 acres of land that was supposed to be eastern Wake County’s largest residential development.
Newland Communities, who restarted the project in late 2013, estimates it will take about 10 years for the development to be completely built out and it will house an estimated 14,000 residents.