The population of Holly Springs is expected to increase 58 percent in the next 10 years. Along with the completion of the I-540 extension, Holly Springs officials are bracing for a resident and building boom.
At the Holly Springs Town Council annual retreat Friday, Feb. 19, town staff shared anticipated growth data with the council and what these numbers will mean for the town.
The population is expected to jump from about 31,000 to nearly 50,000 people. For every three people living in Holly Springs today, there will be four people by 2020 and five people by 2025.
And more people brings more rooftops – an estimated 5,600 of them.
“We are smack dab in the middle of all the growth in this region,” said Gina Clapp, the town’s planning and zoning director. “We’re in a very lucrative position right now – where people want to live, where they want to be, because this is going to be the center of everything.”
Most of the new subdivisions are expected in southwestern Holly Springs, but the completion of the I-540 extension also is expected to cause a building boom in town.
“This growth is regional,” Town Manager Chuck Simmons said. “But there are also some great challenges we have to deal with.”
Those challenges include maintaining the level of services, amenities, infrastructure and safety that Holly Springs is known for. But it also means the town will have the growth to attract new businesses, including movie theaters, hospitals and more.
“Growth itself will put a bigger demand on our services,” councilwoman Linda Hunt Williams said. “If we can’t keep up with that, it will actually cause us to go backwards on our growth. So we need to make sure that we keep up with demand for our services.”
Impacts of growth
The town already is feeling the demands of growth but is looking ahead to accommodate residents’ needs.
The town is already maxing out the gyms at Holly Grove Middle School, Holly Ridge Middle School and the W.E. Hunt Recreation Center with practices and games. The Parks and Recreation Department would need more baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, mixed-use fields, outdoor basketball courts, gymnasiums and additional community centers, particularly west of N.C. 55.
“One of our policies is to never turn kids away,” Simmons said. “If we don’t address the gym space, we are going to have to start capping the number of participants.”
The Holly Springs Fire Department expects to need a minimum of three new fire stations in the next 10 years. The department’s primary areas of concern in terms of response times are 12 Oaks, Woodcreek, Sunset Oaks, Holly Glen and new subdivisions along Avent Ferry Road.
The 43-person Public Works Department has outgrown its 13,000-square-foot facility. There is limited shelter, shop, office and outdoor space. Some staff members have to share offices, and lunch breaks have to be staggered because the break room is too small.
“It’s just time for a new facility or additional space,” Simmons said.
Traffic, one of the town’s biggest complaints, also would need to be addressed. Now 75 percent of traffic on the N.C. 55 bypass comes from people who live outside Holly Springs.
“We can plan within our town limits, but what we are really subjective to is Harnett County’s growth, the Fuquay(-Varina) growth, the Wake County subdivisions that are out beyond us,” said Kendra Parrish, the town’s engineering director.
Growth will contribute to a 4-percent increase in traffic per year. Projects funded in town include the Main Street Extension project and improvements on Avent Ferry Road and Sportsmanship Way.
But Holly Springs is prepared for growth in terms of water and sewer capacity, as well as the infrastructure needs of the Holly Springs Police Department. The town’s new law enforcement center is expected to serve the town for 20 to 25 years.
“We’re going to have growing pains for awhile, but our communication with people and opening that up even more so than we are now, is going to have to play a big role in our future growth,” councilwoman Cheri Ann Lee said.
The council and staff were polled at the retreat about which projects they believe are the highest priority.
New or additional public works department space received the most votes, followed by indoor basketball courts, acquiring land for future parks and recreation uses, another Avent Ferry Road project and a fire substation.
“That’s the easy part, writing a letter to Santa and telling him what you want each year,” said Charles Archer of Freese and Nichols, a consulting firm that led group discussions. “Now we’re going to talk about funding.”
Staff suggested several funding options to pay for these priorities, including issuing some of the remaining $7.5 million in 2012 parks and recreation bonds, which they think can be done without raising taxes. They also suggested taking on additional debt as other debt comes off the books.
Transportation projects could be funded through cost sharing with the N.C. Department of Transportation or federal organizations. The town also could choose to place a general obligation bond referendum before voters for transportation needs.
The council also discussed encouraging more economic development downtown. Several suggestions were made. The group settled on learning more about potentially building a structure along Main Street that can be used as staff office space but also rented out as retail space.
“We are going to need space. We are going to grow,” Simmons said. “It’s really a minimal risk. The risk is we are putting up money. We are building this building now. In the future, if we need it, if retail hasn’t worked, we can go ahead and use it for office space.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon