Wednesday, February 8, 2023

RiverLights development could receive its own elementary school if commissioners agree

Aerial of the RiverLights tract and bed for the to-be-relocated segment of River Road (the dirt line at center, with northwest and southeast connections to River Road as it is currently). Image by Google.

WILMINGTON — The 1,400 acre planned development called RiverLights could be getting its own public elementary school located within the development. The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will vote to approve a resolution next week that would acknowledge the need for construction of the new school within RiverLights.

The developer of the community, Newland Communities, has already made an agreement with the city of Wilmington to set aside 15-acres within the development for a new school. Superintendent Tim Markley said that the agreement predated his arrival as superintendent, but the developer did agree to set aside the land in a contract with Wilmington.

According to the resolution, if approved the developer would dedicate a tract of land to the New Hanover County Board of Education. The resolution states that a new school would be necessary to adequately serve that area of the community, but funding for the project has not been decided upon yet.

The resolution does not promise the school will be built or a time frame, but it does make a written acknowledgement on behalf of both the Board of Education and New Hanover County the need for an elementary school within RiverLights. If the county and Board of Education do approve the resolution, this is not a project that will start anytime too soon, Markley said.

It is not yet known who would be zoned to attend the new school outside of the RiverLights community, but Markley said the school would not be exclusive to the neighborhood.

Currently RiverLights is zoned for both Codington Elementary School, which is a year round school, and Mary C. Williams Elementary School.

Michael Praats can be reached at

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