By Lisa Brown
The intersection of Young and Main streets was once known as “downtown Rolesville,” and the area was fenced and gated to keep animals in. The fences were taken down in 1941 when U.S. 401 (North and South Main Street) was paved. Two of the four original cornerstones of the town limits still stand.
While most small towns relish the idea of renovating historic buildings, this is not an option for Rolesville because a 1913 fire burned down the buildings at the Main and East Young intersection. Still, the town grew, new buildings were constructed and downtown became a commercial hub and meeting place with thriving shops and stores.
More recently, as in many towns, commerce moved away from the downtown area. With the exception of a few stores, it has since become simply an active intersection where people enter the new bypass and move quickly through to a destination.
Hoping to change that, town leaders have worked to bring a downtown center back to Rolesville, and two designs were created. On Oct. 20, an open house provided residents a chance to see the designs and voice opinions. On Nov. 2, the town commissioners voted for the plan they felt best served the town and its residents.
Plan B received four votes and Plan A received one from town commissioners. B was also the overall preference by residents who voiced their opinions either in person or online. B includes a community center that will provide residents and nonresidents alike a place to gather for events and sports.
Young Street resident Ron Wharton remembers downtown Rolesville when it was small but thriving, and he contemplates the new plan’s impact on residents and businesses alike.
“It’s (the new complex) a long time coming from the little yellow building where the kids’ art center is. That was it! That was everything, all in one spot,” Wharton said. “Before the commercial district was built with the big shopping center, you went to the downtown district. You had a little grocery store that had one of the best meat markets around. Fortunately, the furniture store has been able to incorporate the same kind of (personal) service.”
Rick Eddins, owner of Rolesville Furniture, which will be directly across the street from the complex, sees hope in the future development and what it will bring to downtown.
“I think (these concepts) are very interesting. I like the ideas, two concepts,” Eddins said. “I’m just seeing them for the first time. I’m not sure which one I’d choose over the other, but it’s interesting. I know they’re trying to optimize the use of the 10 acres, so that’s key.”
Town Commissioner Ronnie Currin was happy with the choice and felt that having the community center option was the best way to go.
“It will be a great place for people to come together for different activities, not just sports,” Currin said. “With 12 acres of land, there is a lot to work with, and the renditions are just a starting point of what is to come.”
Now that the choice has been made, the new year will bring more involved planning and decision-making.
“In 2016, we’ll be setting up committees and finalizing plans of how the space will be used,” Currin said, explaining that all the departments impacted will be involved from start to finish. “This is an exciting time. We’ve been putting this together for years, and it’s good to see it coming together.”