Last week’s news report on the latest U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates is revealing in a number of ways, almost all of them good.
While there may be some gnashing of teeth in the extreme outer reaches of eastern Wake County that Zebulon has slipped below Rolesville as the county smallest town, there are plenty of indicators that suggest, it’s not such a bad thing.
Rolesville’s growth, to be sure, has been phenomenal. Growing at a 51 percent clip in just four years is hard to imagine in most any circumstance, but it’s also hard to manage. Town leaders (and Raleigh officials) have had to figure out ways to provide services to the new residents and they’ve had to do so quickly. And, like any boom, it won’t likely last.
Rolesville – for many years Wake County’s most rural locale – will enjoy the long-term benefits that growth brings. But we are reminded of the race between the tortoise and the hare, in which the steady, patient tortoise manages to outlast the speedy hare to get to the finish line.
While there is no finish line in this race it is, in many ways, more suitable to see our towns’ populations growing at a steady, manageable clip. Whether Zebulon ever moves back in front of Rolesville is uncertain, and probably not important for any reason other than the collective psyche of Zebulon residents. Ditto for whether Rolesville may also eclipse the population figures reported for Wendell.
More importantly, Zebulon and Wendell are growing. Census figures show Zebulon’s population grew at a 6.7 percent rate, while the population in Wendell grew at a 5 percent pace. Knightdale – eastern Wake County’s boomtown – saw a 20.3 percent increase in population over the same time.
We believe the growth rates all over Wake County are a factor of geography. The county is part of Research Triangle Park and that job engine will long be a people magnet. We also believe the population growth we’ve seen is a function of dollars and cents. It is cheaper to build a nice home in eastern Wake County or Rolesville, than it is in Raleigh or any number of other places around the state.