— Kevin Jones • January 2017
With every new year comes new experiences, new challenges and new resolutions for individual people and for local communities. With the arrival of 2017, the town managers of Wake Forest, Rolesville and Zebulon are eager to share what new projects and initiatives citizens can expect from their towns in the year to come.
Rolesville Town Manager Bryan Hicks emphasized economic development as the chief priority in 2017.
“We have to meet the growing needs and demands of the community,” Hicks said. “It’s a diverse community with diverse needs, and we must meet them with streams of revenue that we have. We want to make sure we spend money wisely and correctly.”
To do this, the town entered into a nine-month contract with Jennifer Mizelle, an independent consultant from Holly Springs, to serve as the town’s new economic development director until spring 2017. Hicks said Mizelle’s experience and leadership will be vital in developing new policies and connections attracting private sector businesses to the town at minimal taxpayer cost.
The current project most closely associated with this long-term development plan is the construction of an expanded town center complex in downtown Rolesville.
“We know we need to further retail and economic growth in downtown Rolesville,” Hicks said.
The 11 acres of land the town now owns will be the basis for commercial development in the downtown district. Although this project is still in the development and layout stages, Hicks expects it to move forward in a big way this year.
In contrast to Rolesville’s big-picture goals of economic development, Wake Forest Town Manager Kip Padgett emphasized specific building projects and other tangible town developments.
Padgett specifically touted a new senior center targeted for completion this year. The town is also looking to improve its parks. Consultant Clark Nexsen has been hired to help design a community center in Joyner Park, which will include offices and a gym. Construction is expected to begin this year, and the park is expected to open in 2018.
Meanwhile in Holding Park, renovation of the pool is scheduled for completion in December 2017, and the pool should open to the public in May 2018.
While these projects are still a ways off from completion, one new change in Wake Forest arriving right away is the addition of new police officers for the town’s new traffic unit. The unit entered service on January 1.
Zebulon Town Manager Joe Moore most looks forward to residential rather than commercial growth in 2017.
“We’re starting to see foundations really take hold and continue to take hold in the form of residential development,” he said.
Moore described Zebulon’s plan for growth in 2017 and beyond as a “Unified Development Ordnance,” and leaders’ goal is for the town to expand in population, infrastructure and size while still retaining the unique characteristics of small-town Zebulon.
One way Moore hopes to achieve this is through a streetscape match program and façade grants. The streetscape match program is designed to encourage nonprofits to make aesthetic improvements in the downtown area, and the façade grants allow small businesses to renovate their buildings and refurbish facades downtown.
These are all part of the town plan to attract businesses to downtown and to pursue town development without sacrificing small-town character that makes a town like Zebulon, as well as Rolesville and Wake Forest, special in the first place.