Village Adjusting to Population Changes
Residents were updated on the "changing face" of the village at the Pinehurst Civic Group's fall forum Tuesday.
Representatives from the village of Pinehurst, Pinehurst Resort and the Moore County school system spoke to a packed room at Village Hall. A lengthy question-and-answer session followed the presentations.
Village Manager Andy Wilkison noted the significant growth in the village since 1990, with the population increasing from 5,000 to 11,750 residents. He said there has been a marked increase in younger adults and middle-aged adults in recent years. It is no longer predominantly a retirement community.
"You might think right away of the very young school-age children who are perhaps the most visible symbol of the changing demographics of Pinehurst," he said. "Maybe not quite as noticeable is the significant growth in younger adults who are largely responsible for these young children we see running around."
Wilkison said the changes in demographics has affected each of the village's departments. The village work force has also grown significantly younger.
He also noted that 50 percent of the village's population is now under the age of 65.
Mark Wagner, the director of parks and recreation for the village, offered his perspective as one of these "younger adults."
As a parent, he has observed the significant growth at Pinehurst Elementary. The school has about 650 students, while it was designed to accommodate 450.
"As a parent at that school, what that means to me is that there are more students in my children's classes," he said. "It's harder for the teachers to spend as much time with those kids who might need the individual attention."
He also spoke on the need for a lot of younger families who are not resort members to rely on the parks and recreation department as an outlet for many activities. He touched on the pressing need to curb childhood obesity in the area.
Dr. Susan Purser, superintendent of the school system, discussed the growth at Pinehurst Elementary and how the new elementary school that will be constructed adjacent to West Pine Middle will affect it. She said the rapid growth at the school has surprised many across the community.
"There were a lot of people in our community who thought Pinehurst was still pretty much what it once was -- only serving the retired population," she said. "So it was very definitely an awakening to many portions of our county to learn that Pinehurst was growing largely with young families. And with them came children."
Purser said Pinehurst Elementary has handled the growth well through the use of portable classrooms. The bond referendum passed last November will allow the construction of the new elementary school that will alleviate the crowding at Pinehurst Elementary.
After the new school opens, Pinehurst Elementary's enrollment would drop back down to 350 students and then continue to grow afterward. Purser also discussed how renovations and improvements are on the table for the older schools in the county.
"We are very proud of our elementary school at Pinehurst Elementary," she said. "It definitely achieves well and it serves our community well."
Sara Bigley, the principal at Pinehurst Elementary, talked about the school's collaboration with FirstHealth and the village on fitness and the FirstSchool garden. She also discussed how "student-focused" her teachers are when dealing with the needs of their students.
Don Sweeting with Pinehurst Resort talked about his organization's efforts to accommodate younger guests. He said that in the post 9/11 economy, more and more families have been coming to the resort.
As such, the resort has installed a playground and new kids' club, hired a full-time recreation manager, continued popular summer camps for golf and tennis, and is refurbishing the pool at the Carolina Hotel.
The resort has also added kids' tee makers on seven out of eight golf courses to accommodate the U.S. Kids and U.S. Kids Teen Championships. Sweeting said the U.S. Kids organization is considering moving its base to Pinehurst.
Wagner said the village parks and recreation department has tried to meet the demands of the changing demographics.
The village's summer day camp program has taken off. Camelot Park continues to be a draw for the entire area. The Pinehurst Fair Barn is currently averaging about 85 rentals a year. In addition, the Harness Track is enjoying an increase in stall rentals and currently has 40 horses on a waiting list, he said.
Wagner also talked at length about the proposed recreation center to be built at Cannon Park. The facility is designed to eliminate the current space constraints the department experiences in its current offices in the Village Hall. He said it would allow for expansion of its immensely popular basketball league.
If approved, the $3.3 million building would open in 2011.
"We intend to offer programs for all ages," he said.
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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