Dear Mayor, protect our trees

Students are concerned about the future of Wake Forest

the editorial board

With the re-election of Mayor Vivian Jones this past November, the editorial board has some concerns regarding the development of the town.
Over the past 16 years, Wake Forest’s population has nearly tripled, growing from about 13,000 in 2000 to around 40,000 today. But, with the human population growing rapidly, the tree population is declining.
New housing and retail are certainly important to a growing population. Due to such major developments, land is being used, but not always for what we believe is in the town’s best interests.
A town whose name originates from once being known for the beautiful forests that encompassed it is now a town known for the consumption of those trees. What is Wake Forest without its forests?
Parks and recreational areas have been built in the town, but they don’t make up for the amount of trees removed. Whole plots of land have been cleared to make way for development without thinking twice about keeping any trees. Mayor Jones and town leaders need to preserve more forested land from development as nature reserves and encourage landowners to donate some forested tracts to the town for this purpose.
Our neighbor Raleigh has strict codes about tree preservation and has rules requiring trees to be planted in parking lots depending on the number of spaces. Raleigh took these steps to preserve its nickname “The City of Oaks.” Wake Forest should preserve its forests.
The town has also seen an incredible increase in retail space as well, and we think that the town should be more selective in what it allows to build. There are other things that the town could build that would be more beneficial than retail.
In an April 5, 2017 article in Forbes titled “Even developers agree the U.S. has way too much retail space,” Suzanne Mulvee, CoStar director of retail research says that “There’s about a billion square feet of retail space that needs to go away, that needs to be converted, for the market to get healthy.”
Town leaders need to utilize all existing space and maximize current shopping center lots before clearing new land for retail development.
It would also be much more beneficial to build a hospital to support the town’s population and residents north of town in Franklin County. Currently, the closest major hospital to us is Wakemed North, which is a good 25 minutes away.
In the future, we’d also like to see a public sports complex that provides what The Factory doesn’t offer. We would like racquetball courts, sand volleyball courts and additional fields for lacrosse and soccer.
Mayor Jones has been able to accomplish a lot in her last four terms. We hope she will hear these concerns as she begins her new term.