Residents object during commissioners’ meeting Tuesday.
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — A proposal to consider filling in the town pool doesn’t wash with some residents, who are taking to the web and to town commissioners in protest.
Commissioner Margaret Stinnett first made the suggestion at the board’s last work session, in response to a string of repairs the town has made to the Holding Park pool at taxpayer expense over the years.
Commissioners had agreed to talk about the suggestion at their upcoming midyear retreat, but not all members of the public waited to see what they would say.
“There are a lot of people in our community that cannot afford to pay to go to a pool,” Wake Forest resident Emily Cole said after the meeting. “The Boys and Girls Club uses it. It really helps build community to have a community swimming pool.”
Two residents also objected at the meeting, during a public hearing to allow public financing to be sought for “extensive” pool renovations.
“The pool is a good thing. The new budget calls for a new police officer — maybe take the money for that,” resident Matt Reck suggested, eliciting a sharp stare from Commissioner Greg Harrington, the town’s former police chief.
“I do think the commissioners can find a way to renovate it and keep it going,” Reck added. “I think we have enough police officers, personally.”
Stinnett’s suggestion will be discussed, among other issues, during the Sept. 3 retreat, which begins at 5 p.m. at town hall. The public may attend, but cannot comment.
For the second time in less than a year, a townhome project for Dr. Calvin Jones Highway has been turned down by the board.
Developer Russell Gay’s plan to put 99 townhouses on 19 acres adjacent to Pineview Estates and Holding Ridge neighborhoods met with extreme disapproval from neighbors.
During previous public hearings, the residents produced their own evidence suggesting the project would devalue their homes.
After introducing the agenda item, Mayor Vivian Jones asked for a motion from the board. Approximately 18 seconds later, Stinnett moved to deny the plan, citing a finding of fact that the developer didn’t prove the project wouldn’t be a detriment to the surrounding neighborhood.
With a prompt by Commissioner Frank Drake, she amended her motion to also deny because, Drake said, he felt Gay hadn’t gone far enough to improve the centrally located open space in the neighborhood.
Gay’s previous iteration of the plan pushed all the open space off to one side. This time, three houses were removed in the center, and a pocket park and roundabout added in their place.
“What it means to me is it is a less-than-1-percent change in the total green space,” Drake scoffed.
The motion to deny was unanimous.
•Another project, to put 80 townhomes on 11 acres in the town’s center, was not only unanimously approved by commissioners, it was soundly praised for its downtown revitalization qualities.
The developer, Craig Briner of East Elm Partners, in conjunction with M/I Homes, promises live-work units on one end, extra park amenities in another area, alleys, parking in the back and other design elements that could be a draw to urban professionals, town leaders have said.
“This has been a long time coming, and I only wish it was bigger,” Drake said of The Retreat at Renaissance townhome project, adding he looks forward to construction. “I hope we see red dirt and diesel real soon.”
•Commissioners also approved a bid by R.W. Chapman Co. to build two electric substation power transformers for $1.7 million and two circuit switchers for $100,000.