At the Wendell Commissioner’s annual retreat last weekend, Commissioner John Boyette presented an idea that he said he thinks will help revitalize the town’s downtown: A pool.
Boyette suggested building some sort of competitive swimming facility in the town as a way to attract families to the town who will spend money in downtown Wendell and bolster other local business.
“’I’m a big fan of elegant solutions and I wanted something that at least hits all the high points of bringing in people from out of town,” he said.
Boyette said he’s been working on the idea for a few months after hearing his fiancee, who was a competitive swimmer in college, mention that her adult swimming league was having a tough time finding space to swim at Pullen Park in Raleigh.
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He knows bringing a pool to Wendell won’t fix that problem- Boyette estimated it could take up to five years to construct a swim facility – but it will benefit the town by attracting new residents.
“I think some of the people we need to attract to Wendell that are outside of town are active, young families,” he said.
Boyette said the pool idea would make the town unique while also taking points from other towns that have managed to harness the economic benefit of large athletic facilities.
At the retreat, Boyette mentioned a swimming facility in Cary and the basketball facility that could come to Knightdale. The big draw of those, he said, is that the towns had to put minimal money toward the project.
Cary’s facility was funded by a competitive swim team looking for a permanent location. Knightdale’s proposed facility will be funded by the Naismith Group, a nonprofit youth basketball organization.
And, Boyette mentioned, one of the largest swim teams in the area doesn’t have a permanent facility.
Commissioners wanted to focus on ways to help downtown and many thought providing more amenities in the town would help.
Other commissioners focused on improving Parks and Recreation activities by offering new sports, but Boyette said the town might need to look at something completely new.
“While I think those are great ideas, we already have athletic fields that (new sports can) be held on,” he said. He said a swim facility would also alleviate some of the board’s concerns about parking around the community center, if the swimming facility he suggested were to be built in that area.
Competitive swimming is held in the winter, a time of year when Wendell’s activities tend to slow down. By adding a sport in an off-season, the town wouldn’t be adding more traffic during the spring, summer and early fall, when most sports programs operate.
The facility would also keep residents engaged in town activities all year, Boyette pointed out.
Mayor Tim Hinnant didn’t say anything about Boyette’s pool suggestion, but he did like the idea of using a public-private partnership to try to benefit downtown Wendell.
Hinnant made a campaign promise to a young girl during his bid for the mayor’s seat that he would work toward getting a pool built in Wendell. The promise came to light when the girl chastised him in an email for not following through on his promise.