Breaks are welcome around these parts. Holidays give our staff a chance to put down the pen, notepad and camera for a few days.
We’ve now put the wraps on a couple weeks worth of holiday time and we’ve returned with freshly-charged batteries and an anxiousness to report the news in these parts.
There’s no shortage of speculation about what might happen in 2013 as we turn the calendars.
In Wendell, there’s finally a hint of optimism as word began to spread just last week that there may be a deal in the offing for Wendell Falls.
The development was the foundation for a lot of hopes and dreams for Wendell. The town sank a lot of money into the project (not to mention what developers spent) which was to bring about 4,000 homes and a lot more business to the town.
But the project has lain dormant since the economy went south and many feared it may never happen.
If the potential buyers can make the deal work, Wendell could again be on the path to a future filled with growth.
Other issues face the town in 2013 as well, including a look at how the town board will deal with opportunities to grow its own infrastructure. The town has worked steadily to improve downtown in the past few years, but that hasn’t brought an influx of new businesses to the town.
Commissioners have worked to develop an economic development strategy that should be completed this year. It remains to be seen how aggressively the town will put its plan into action.
Historically, Wendell has been loathe to spend money it didn’t have to. But the old adage about spending money to make money still holds true.
The town can be the biggest catalyst when it comes to driving economic development successes. Town leaders will have to be willing to commit municipal resources to see private business thrive here.
In Knightdale, town leaders have shown a penchant for spending money in hopes of a future payoff. They bought land in the middle of town for a park, of all things, but that expenditure brought promises of a large new residential development and a YMCA in the middle of town.
The first part of that park should be open to the public in 2013.
Council members will also have to decide this year how aggressive they want to be when it comes to raising taxes to pay for a parks and rec bond that will allow construction to begin on the second phase of that park. Here’s hoping they will strike while the iron is hot.
Zebulon leaders will have to deal with their own fiscal crisis of sorts this year as they figure out how to deal with the loss of several hundred thousand dollars in revenue that used to come in the form of a payment for the state.
The town’s reliance on industry to fuel its tax base was always seen as a strength, but the loss of that money, which was based on industrial concerns, could cause the town to make some fairly severe cutbacks on personnel, services or both.
And the town of Zebulon hopes 2013 will be the year it sells some of its surplus property. Since the town moved into its new quarters in the old Wakelon School, there have been for sale signs hanging from the old town hall, the old meeting quarters, the old police station and the former parks and rec offices. So far, only the parks and rec building has been sold.
The town has changed real estate agents, but the change doesn’t seem to have brought a spike in interest.
Renewed interest in 2013 by commissioners in emphasizing the appearance and marketability of downtown could go a long way toward boosting that part of town and helping land a potential buyer for the town’s own property.