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Wesleyan plans indoor sports facility

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N.C. Wesleyan College tennis player Jhonny Acosta eyes the ball while practicing with teammate Nick Revin on Tuesday at the Slick Family Foundation Tennis Center at the college. An indoor sports facility, which will include tennis courts, is in the planning stages at the college.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tennis at N.C. Wesleyan College and free of the elements, anyone?

N.C. Wesleyan wants to build an indoor sports facility and the Rocky Mount Planning Board recently approved an amended preliminary document for a site to be on a grassy area on the northeast side of the campus.

The facility, as proposed, is slightly more than 68,800 square feet. The facility would include six tennis courts, as well as two pickleball courts, two squash courts, three golf simulators and a performance training area.

N.C. Wesleyan, in a statement to the Telegram, said the college received a commitment from an anonymous donor to completely cover the cost of construction, along with a grant from the Nash County Tourism Development Authority. The college’s statement said the hope is that the facility will be complete by spring 2020.

Nash County board Chairman Robbie Davis, who doubles as chairman of the tourism development authority, told the Telegram the panel voted to award $65,000 a year for five years for a total of $325,000.

The authority met in mid-January and Davis stepped aside from the matter. That is because Davis’ son is president of the family construction business, which does work for the college from time to time, and the son had provided preliminary assistance to the N.C. Wesleyan tennis coach.

The authority’s meeting minutes quote N.C. Wesleyan representatives as saying the project, as proposed, will cost up to $2.7 million.

The authority’s minutes go on to quote the N.C. Wesleyan representatives as saying the facility will allow the college to plan for 20 years of hosting local, regional and national events through the year, as well as place a facility in the community that will bring national exposure.

“We are always interested in doing things that bring additional heads and beds to our area,” Davis told the Telegram of the reason his fellow authority members approved the request.

“They were explaining by having this facility they could bring numerous tennis matches to the Rocky Mount area, college-type matches, which is always going to bring additional people to the area,” Davis said. “And that’s what we’re all about.”

Additionally, he said the authority helped with construction of an outdoor tennis facility at N.C. Wesleyan by providing funding for the lighting.

He also said one of the things he and the authority members look for is an item that will continue to build tourism revenue.

“And this certainly would do that,” he said.

N.C. Wesleyan’s statement to the Telegram said the vision is to provide the college the opportunity to enhance the scope of the college’s educational and sports offerings.

Additionally, the statement said the vision is to increase partnerships and involvement within the local community through educational and sports programs for adults and youth.

“Wesleyan hopes to provide sports not readily available in this area, namely squash, indoor tennis and pickleball,” the statement said.

The planning board met on Aug. 13.

Kevin Varnell, of Stocks Engineering and representing N.C. Wesleyan, told the planning board the facility, as proposed, would be at the corner of North Wesleyan Boulevard and Bishop Road.

Varnell said the facility would be just to the north of the outdoor tennis courts and face the shopping center anchored by a Food Lion supermarket.

Rocky Mount Planning Administrator JoSeth Bocook told the planning board the municipal staff and the local Development Review Committee reviewed the site plan three times and said all comments were resolved.

The committee is comprised of a variety of city department officials and officials from outside agencies.

Bocook recommended approval for a preliminary plan submitted by N.C. Wesleyan.

No one spoke against the proposal and the planning board quickly approved the document.

The Telegram has reported in the past that, generally, the procedure is that after the planning board approves such a document, the applicant goes through a set of procedures at City Hall, such as securing approval of an architectural plan and a building permit.

N.C. Wesleyan is a private Methodist liberal arts institution that was chartered in 1956 and began serving students in 1960.

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