Wilmington City Council gives more time for redesign of WAVE Transit, anticipates great year for film production

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

During this week’s City Council meeting, members passed a resolution recommending the delay of the WAVE transportation redesign, and heard updates about the film industry in Wilmington. 

Council members unanimously passed several items including a “Resolution of the Wilmington City Council Supporting the WAVE Board’s Delayed Implementation of the Public Transportation System Redesign.”

During a joint session of the Wilmington City Council and the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, on April 27, a motion was brought to the floor to delay the implementation of the WAVE’s public transportation redesign. This was in order to allow WAVE’s new executive director, Marie Parker, and the board more time to evaluate the needs and plans for the route redesign. 

Some of the redesign plans include reducing or increasing routes run times or removing them, adding other rides like a trolley and other cost-cutting initiatives to find a solution to their recent funding issues. 

“The City of Wilmington further recommends that reevaluation of the current system should include a complete reexamination of WAVE’s route structure in order to ensure that the system meets the needs of its current riders, that it plans for the needs of future riders and future improvements and cost benefits, that it continues to advance the value-add service of micro-transit/on-demand service, and that it allows for adequate time to plan and implement any final system changes,” as written in the resolution.  

The deadline was pushed back from August 2021 to July 1, 2022. 

Council members also heard a presentation from the director of The Wilmington Regional Film Commission, Johnny Griffin, who said despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Wilmington has continued to see an increase in productions filmed here. 

“In 2021, projects already completed, projects in the process of beginning productions, and projects being planned for the balance of the year will collectively spend nearly $217 million in the region,” said Griffin. “This will be the most spent in nine years and the sixth highest year ever. With more projects which are currently considering Wilmington, 2021 could be the best year ever for the Wilmington region. Looking at a year over year comparison of 2020 and 2021, we’re seeing a 50% increase in inquiries.”

Griffin added that he believes that film sets are some of the safest places to work amidst the pandemic.

“Every crew member is tested one to three times weekly,” said Griffin. “Even background extras must have a negative test to work. A whole new department has been created, and staff teach production to administer tests, and to monitor adherence to COVID[-19] protocols, like wearing masks, social distancing and sanitization. To show you how serious they are about this, one recent production spent about $50 million here. In new COVID[-19] protocols alone, they spent $5 million.”

Griffin closed out his presentation by noting that they are already talking with various productions for projects in 2022. 

The next City Council meeting will be May 18 at 6:30 p.m.