Eastern Wake News

Business leader offers funding

Local businessman Ed Morrell made a splash at Monday night’s town board meeting when he told the story of discovering two teens skateboarding on the roof of his two story manufacturing plant and then offered to pay half the cost of refurbishing an old basketball court next to the police station to give local youth options other than skateboarding in dangerous places.

Morrell said he had recently received call from a neighboring business person on a Sunday afternoon reporting that people were on top of his building. Morrell drove to the plant at the corner of Third and Hollybrook streets and found the two children on top of his roof.

After that incident Morrell, who is a member of Wendell’s Economic Development Advisory committee, traveled to Apex to see that town’s downtown. While the group was in Apex, they toured the town’s new skateboard park, a $1.1 million project that also includes other amenities.

He explained that the skateboard project was spurred, in part, by a private donation of $100,000. “We can’t do that in Wendell, yet,” Morrell said. Instead, he suggested the town consider refurbishing an old basketball court next to the police department to give young people another recreational outlet. “Kissie (Morrell, his wife) and I are willing to pay 50 percent of the cost – half. I don’t think it would take that much, just some striping and some backboards and lights and you’d have something for them to do,” Morrell said.

Morrell’s offer drew an audible reaction from an unusually large crowd in attendance at Monday night’s town board meeting. His offer later drew support from two other people in attendance, including one person who offered to pay $1,000 and another who agreed to chip in a couple hundred dollars.

Commissioners didn’t immediately accept Morrell’s offer, though several of them, later in the meeting, acknowledged Morrell’s idea and expressed appreciation.

Town Manager Teresa Piner said she hopes to meet with Morrell to talk about his offer and get a better idea of what he would like to do.

“The town leases that property, so it would mean talking to the property owners. One of the things we’ve been trying to do is diversify our offerings in the parks and recreation department. We love our ball teams, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve also been trying to do other things like the dog park and the Treat the Trails event as well that appeal to others in our community who may not want to play a ball sport,” Piner said.

She also wants to make sure she understands Morrell’s ultimate goal. “I’m not sure that skateboarders would necessarily make use of a basketball court, though they might,” Piner said.

Johnny Whitfield: 919-829-4823, @_JWhitfield