Planning a New Town Center Complex, The Heart of the Community

Three buildings totaling nearly 115,000 square feet to be completed in three phases. State-of-the-art construction and amenities that will meet the needs of the future. A reconsideration of the placement of the police department. Ways to fund the project. Decisions! The Town Center Complex, targeted for the southwest corner of the intersection at Young and Main streets, is in the planning stages.

Town Center now

Aerial view of the intersection of Young and Main Streets
as it looked prior to the December 15, 2014, demolition
of the long, narrow building at 101 West Young Street.

Town Center with plan

Aerial view of the intersection of Young and Main Streets
with the approved Town Center Complex plan inserted.
Images courtesy of the Town of Rolesville.

On September 20, a Town Commissioners Workshop featured presentations by three committees on proposals, recommendations and details about buildings that will be part of the future Town Center Complex. Presentations covered the Town Hall facility, the Community-Recreation facility and the Police facility. Rolesville Finance Officer Amy Stevens followed the presentations with a broad overview of the projected costs.

The Town has been acquiring property since 2002, starting with Main Street Park plus a portion of the downtown area and working its way out, Town Manager Bryan Hicks said.

“We knew wanted something downtown to set a benchmark,” Hicks said. “We did the community plan for all of Rolesville, and the goal is that Rolesville will have a downtown district that reflects its small-town character, functions as its essential

commercial and civic district and is readily identifiable as the heart of the community.”

Within that overriding goal are four objectives, each with its own policies: a vibrant community featuring unique local shops and businesses; a downtown district in tune with today’s lifestyles while maintaining small-town charm; a unified design for all civic buildings downtown; and a “village” style of development in and around downtown that includes a mix of shops, offices and homes as well as accommodations for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic.

Rolesville resident Michelle King led off with the findings of the Town Hall Facility Committee, which included the recommendation that the Town Hall should be sized to meet future needs and growth of the community.

During Rolesville resident Brian Massie’s presentation for the Community-Recreation facility, Parks and Recreation Department Director J. G. Ferguson supported Massie’s emphasis on the need for sports accommodations, saying, “We’re currently maxed out athletically in every program, so regarding gyms or fields, we’re at capacity.”

The lengthiest and most detailed presentation came from resident Bill Dougherty as he discussed what the Police Department Facility Committee members learned in their research about what every police station should have to stay current.

“We do believe that the police department is a vital resource for the community,” he said, “so we need to make sure that it’s appropriately resourced and it has the tools that it needs to be able to function effectively.”

Finally, Stevens put everything into financial perspective when she spoke to the needs and costs of the project.

The projected bottom line to build and open the facilities in five years, albeit not set in stone, is slightly over $33 million. That figure also includes site preparation costs that include roads, utilities, water, sewer, storm water, landscaping, parking lot – everything that needs to be done for that facility before the buildings even go in.

How will Rolesville pay for this? Either through existing funds, dedicated revenues or debt financing.

Commissioner Frank Hodge posed the rhetorical question, “How do you feel about a 25 cent increase in your taxes (per $100) in order to put these facilities on the ground?”

Rolesville native and Town Hall Committee member Billy Perry expressed his concerns because, “the center of town is not the center of town anymore,” and he pointed out that the post office, grocery store and other businesses are no longer there.

“I think that if you plan this strategically,” he said, “you can have ultimately these facilities and a live-work-play concept.”

Resident and Community Center Committee member Joyce Newman mentioned the fact that Rolesville attracts a younger population with young kids, which should be taken into consideration when asking if residents are willing to pay.

Mayor Frank Eagles responded by adding that it’s not just the young the leaders should be thinking of with regard to tax increases because there is an older population on fixed incomes as well. He also agreed the entire population of the town needs to weigh in on the tax issue via a method to be determined.

“We agonized over the tax increase of 2 cents,” Hodge said, “which is probably the largest tax increase we’ve done. Yet there was very little pushback because I think the public trusts what this board is trying to do in growing the town and the community.”

Commissioner Sheilah Sutton weighed in as well, saying, “We as board want to do this responsibly. We don’t want to make any rash movements, and we don’t want to overburden anyone unnecessarily, but we recognize the growth and where we are.”

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Ronnie Currin reflected on the presentation and some of the questions that will need to be answered aside from how the residents of Rolesville feel about funding a new town complex.

The goal now is for the board to bring prioritization to the meeting in November.

“There are a lot of things we can start doing, start planning for,” Currin said. “We’re a long way from spending any money.”

— Jeanne E. Fredriksen • • October 2016