WESLEY CHAPEL – Leaders in Wesley Chapel are preparing themselves for construction projects and the continued effort to unite their community as the town moves into the new year.
The town council has a list of issues it plans to tackle in 2013, including two major projects: a town hall for government business and construction of Dogwood Park.
Mayor Brad Horvath said having a hall will help bring residents together as a town. Located near the commercial center of Wesley Chapel and providing citizens and prospective developers easier access to town staff, the new hall will create a more professional place from which town staff will conduct business, including town meetings.
“It’s our first real building, since we’ve been renting a house for the 14 years of our life as a village,” Horvath said. “Now it’s pretty cool that we’ll have our own building. It will sort of create a sense of identity for the town, since we don’t have our own zip code. Most of our residents, with a small exception, have either Matthews or Waxhaw or Monroe or Indian Trail addresses. So yes, I’m excited, absolutely.”
Dogwood Park is something that’s been in the pipeline for a while, Horvath said. Residents said it was the top amenity they’d be willing to pay for in a 2005 master plan survey. Wesley Chapel’s first park is set to enter it’s construction phase in 2013, and will consist of walking and biking trails, a fishing pier, fishing stations and a small amphitheater.
“We have the athletic fields right down the road, but having a park where parents can take their children on walking trails and view the trees in the spring, it’s a very picturesque site,” he said. “It has a pond that we now have a pier on. It’s brought people together. We’ve had a number of volunteer days and we’re up to about three different scout projects, and the park isn’t even open yet. I just think it’s a great idea.”
According to town leaders, these projects have spent a significant time in development and represent the first major investment the town has made since its formal inception in 1998.
Other issues the town will be focusing on in 2013 include:
• Exploring alternative uses for the 2-acre parcel of property that JDH Capital is in the process of donating to the town, including the potential to build an EMS station on the property in order to improve EMS response times. The town will work with the county to determine whether that project will be possible. Recommendations from the town’s Safety Committee will determine the potential for the EMS station, but options need to be explored and worked through, according to council.
• Finding the most effective, cost-efficient use for the house that was a part of the purchase of the property that will become Dogwood Park.
• Continuing to find ways to bring the community together by providing opportunities for residents to come to events like the Fall Festival, events in Dogwood Park or in other parts of town. Council expressed an interest in reinstating the Fall Festival Committee in order to further efforts to unite the community, and is looking for volunteers to make that a reality.
Speaking as a group about what issues will be most important in 2013, Wesley Chapel council members said they plan to address each of the projects with the help of citizen committees assigned to each project as well as council liaisons working with the committees to bring recommendations before the council.
“I’m very lucky to have a group of people willing to work together,” Horvath said of the council. “We don’t always agree on everything, but in the end we’re all trying to improve the community as a whole in a fiscally prudent way. And we’ve saved our nickels and dimes and feel we can do what we want out of pocket with these two projects.”
Council expects their two major projects to be completed during the year and open for use by residents. Wesley Chapel residents have indicated through surveys and petitions that Dogwood Park and the new hall are priorities.
“We believe they are largely pleased with the council’s actions in executing both projects using funds that have been saved over 14 years, not incurring further debt and not raising taxes to pay for them,” council said about town residents in their release.
Council members said they feel citizens expect the town to do things in a fiscally responsible way, while working toward ensuring residents’ safety.
This story is part of Union County Weekly’s look at what issues will be key for our towns heading into 2013. See issues for other towns at our website, www.unioncountyweekly.com.