August 4, 2014

Chatham Park.

About nine years ago, my parents packed our family up and we headed south.  At that time, our family was in shambles.  I was upset with my parents for moving me in high school and taking me away from some of my favorite things in Michigan: my church, my 4-H group, and the home that I grew up in. Our stuff was scattered everywhere and we were moving just in time for my siblings and I to start playing our respective fall sports. Things were still being resolved in Michigan, so my dad stayed there for a couple of my months and we were just living with my mom. Some of that time was tough...I was going through the typical teenage "why are my parents so weird" stage, and there were five of us and two dogs crammed into a 1000 sq. foot rental home.  

It was official. My parents had moved me to the smallest town possible.  My high school had 400 students total which was in the middle of the rural country surrounded by pastures.  I loved the country setting, but, I had to make friends with 400 people that had grown up together?! Really mom and dad? Thanks for setting me up for failure. It was hard at first and my family grew really close during that time.  We only had each other, so we did everything together.  We cleaned up the store and played tennis at the community park most nights.  We rode our bikes to the library and played games in the yard.  It was a lot of fun now that I look back on those times. School got much better as I got older...I fell in love with the FFA and played keeper on the school soccer team.  I had found my niche and began to love this little state that I had once hated.

So, that brings me to where I am today.  I currently work outside of Raleigh, the beautiful capital city of North Carolina.  I spent four years at North Carolina State University and loved every ounce of my time there.  I have lived close to everything, so you think I would have been happy. But every day I found myself living in Cary, I was yearning to be back in Chatham County; back to the small town I grew up in, a town that I now love and can't wait to raise my family in. I never thought I would want to come back to Chatham County, but I am happy here.  I love our feed store, I love the people, and I love the simplicity of it.  Small town grills, local farmers sitting on the park bench in town, and the beautiful rolling hills of this county. Something about it is just so serene and peaceful...I am so thankful that my husband wants to raise our family here too.

Something is changing about my small town though...

It's called Chatham Park
And each day I just see the little town that I love, a town that I want to raise my family in, disappearing. Chatham Park isn't just something small, it is going to take our little town of 4,000 people to over 60,000 people.  It is going to bring 22,000 new residences and 13 million square feet of developed space.  Now, the brains behind this operation is a good man.  Mr. Jim Goodnight, the CEO of SAS Institute helped develop Cary into what it is today and wants small town Chatham County the same way.

This is where my heart is torn. Mr. Goodnight is a classy man and he has done good things for Cary.  He brought successful people and a booming research industry to the triangle, but that isn't small town Chatham County. Each and every weekend people drive down from Cary to Pittsboro and fall in love with the town.  They love the simplicity of Chatham County, the beauty of it, and the old small-town southern charm.  People want their children to experience small town life, even if they choose to live in the big city. People want to walk historic down-towns, eat treats from the bakery, and drink milkshakes from the local soda shoppe.  There is a small town family atmosphere here, and people love that feeling.

We don't have a Target, a Walmart, or an area full of large department store shopping, but I am okay with that.  I love Target just as much as any girl out there, but I am okay driving 20-30 minutes to get there. Sometimes it isn't convenient, but most of the time all it takes is a little bit of planning to get what you need. We don't have the Longhorn Steakhouses or Applebees, but we have a local brewery and an awesome soda shoppe. Small town life is where my heart is and nothing is going to change that part about me.  

I'm in my young 20s and understand growth is going to happen.  I understand that the population of the world is increasing and they are going to need somewhere to live, but sometimes I wish it wasn't my town.  Let's leave it to the local farmers that help feed the world and to those who love small town life. I want people to experience the beauty of Chatham County, but unfortunately, a development like Chatham Park isn't going going to give that same feeling that I get each time I cross over into Chatham County.  A place that I call home.