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With staggering population growth is need for new facilities

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(The Center Square) – North Carolina’s rapid population growth is driving demand for new public facilities across the state, illustrated by funding requests this week to expand amenities in several towns.

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows state population grew at the fourth-highest rate in the nation in 2023. New residents numbered 139,526 one year after counting 128,865.

The staggering growth was cited this week in several funding requests to the Local Government Commission aimed at expanding parks and recreation offerings, public infrastructure, transportation improvements, and other work. The commission is tasked with evaluating and approving financing for more than 1,100 local governments.

In the Wake County town of Holly Springs, where the population has more than doubled from 24,661 in 2010 to 49,417 this year, officials plan to spend $100 million in general obligation bonds to fund a variety of services and amenities for residents. The spending, approved by 63% of voters in a November referendum, will build 56-acre Cass Holt Road Park with plans for a splash pad, athletic fields and courts, skate park, picnic shelters, playground, trails and a 93,000-square-foot indoor recreation center, according to the commission.

The approved bonds will also cover a proposed Womble Park facility with outdoor courts and baseball dugout replacement, as well as an event pavilion and greenway connections at Sugg Farm.

Huntersville’s growing population in Mecklenburg County, which swelled from 47,120 in 2010 to an estimated 62,640, was cited in its approved request to spend $58 million in general obligation bonds. The funds will go toward reconstructing and enlarging streets and nonmotorized paths, expanding a town recreation center, and renovations and expansion of athletic fields, the Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatic facility, and other existing parks and recreation facilities to accommodate the new residents.

The planned improvements are funded by increased taxes that were approved by more than 70% of voters in November.

Significant customer growth was also behind Fuquay-Varina’s approved request to spend $85 million in bonds to expand the Northern Harnett Wastewater Treatment Plant and collection capacity for the Southern Oaks Gravity Sewer.

Other approved financing involved $50 million in bonds for the Wake County town of Wendell to fund a new park, greenway and recreational facilities, as well as streets, sidewalk, bridge, parking and bicycle facilities.

Members of the Local Government Commission also heard from representatives from Mecklenburg County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools about plans to spend $2.5 billion in general obligation bonds approved by voters in November. Mecklenburg County’s population jumped by 29,866 between April 2020 and July 2022 to about 1.15 million, according to Census figures.

The presentation for information only detailed “30 high-priority projects” that involve replacing and renovating aging structures, new school buildings, school upgrades, and expanding academic opportunities for students.

“The matter will be on the February meeting agenda for a vote on what would be the largest amount of tax-exempt financing ever handled by the LGC,” according to a commission press release.

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