• Sunday, February 19th, 2017

This week was a little slower than usual for this time of year.

Monday I had an interview with WUNC who is doing a documentary on HB2. They asked me several questions related to the bill. Some of the points I made was that we have hosted 24 NCAA championships since 2004 and have bids in for another 27. These events bring millions of dollars of economic benefit to Cary and surrounding communities. I made it clear that Cary is a welcoming community dedicated to the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection for all. We embrace the gifts, talents, and experiences that each person has to offer, and we believe it’s through mutual respect and understanding that we can reach our full potential as a community. We continue to plead with the General Assembly to come together and do what it takes to repeal the business unfriendly HB2 legislation. My interview lasted about 15 minutes. I am not sure of how much of it they will use.

Later Monday I met with the town manager and went over about a dozen items. We talked about preferences for staff reports, a downtown business, the Trimble Avenue rezoning, and updates from CBL development (the mall site), and Columbia development (across the street from the mall on the state site).

We discussed the Fayetteville lawsuit which was reported by the local newspaper as a loss for Cary. Actually, we kept our IBT (Interbasin transfer) so I don’t consider that a loss. Without the IBT we would have had trouble supplying water to our citizens. Now that would be a loss. The issues with the IBT and water are complex and the major downside for Cary is that we may have to expand the water plant sooner than later.

One of our last topics is that the council and staff are creating a walking team as part of the Wake Med competition between municipalities. I am looking forward to that since I average about 13,000 steps on an average day.

Tuesday I was part of a meeting between the CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) and NCDOT (North Carolina Department of Transportation) STIP (State Transportation Improvement Program) staff.  In attendance were six staff members from DOT, three staff members from CAMPO, the TCC (Technical Coordinating Committee) Chair and Vice Chair, and the TAC (Transportation Advisory Committee – or Executive Board) Chair and Vice Chair.  I am beginning my third term serving as Vice Chair. One of the main discussions was the timing of the next two legs of I540. They are currently scheduled to be funded in 2020. There is an effort to move these up sooner. NCDOT staff noted that these two legs are being combined as one project. And because of the way NCDOT staff have interpreted the state statutes CAMPO could lose about $98 million. For our MPO to lose $98 million would be significant and would have direct impact on projects important to Cary. The CAMPO members will need to work to get that changed. The meeting concluded after a little over an hour. 

Wednesday I attended the monthly meeting of CAMPO’s executive board. On the agenda were three public hearings and seven discussion items. No decisions of significance were made however we did decide that the chair should contact NC Secretary of Transportation about the bonus allocation questions which could result in CAMPO losing about $98 million.

Friday I did an interview with 96.1 Radio about “What’s Right About Cary”. We talked about several topics and I had the opportunity to describe some of the great things in Cary. In the end they did a speed round asking my favorite things. It was a lot of fun and should air sometime next week.

Later Friday I participated in the weekly legislative summary meeting of the metro mayors. Topics discussed included even year municipal elections, making every election partisan, school class size, eminent domain, sanctuary cities, violations of public records becoming a misdemeanor, and a meeting of metro mayors and Secretary Trogdon. Our meeting lasted about thirty minutes.

The following were included in the town manager’s report to council this week:

Rating Agencies Bond Ratings Confirmed

I’m pleased to report that all three rating agencies, Moody’s, S&P and Fitch, confirmed our existing revenue bond ratings this week in preparation for the March 1 bond sale. This news comes after my recent trip to NYC for presentations to the rating agencies as well as Council’s action at the last Council meeting approving the resolution authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds.

Utility Monthly Update

This month’s Utilities Update Report is noteworthy because it contains all of the 2016 operating data, which has been compared against previous years in many key performance areas. This report contains lots of rich information, but a few key takeaways are below:

  • Water treatment plant production increased from 18.1 million gallons per day (MGD) in 2015 to 18.3 MGD in 2016.
  • Water plant staff is beginning to detect an increase in taste and odor compounds in Jordan Lake that typically increase early each year. We are monitoring this closely and effectively removing the taste and odor compounds from finished water production.
  • Wastewater flows to Cary’s three wastewater treatment facilities increased from 17.04 MGD in 2015 to 17.33 MDG in 2016. North Cary and South Cary average daily flows were essentially unchanged from 2015 to 2016 with Western Wake Regional increasing from 4.61 MGD to 4.89 MGD. All three wastewater treatment facilities are maintaining exceptional treatment performance with 96% nitrogen removal and 92% or greater phosphorus removal.
  • Sanitary sewer overflows for 2016 were on par with previous years.
  • Annual biosolids production is at 5,189 dry tons for 2016, which is an increase of 214 dry tons processed in 2015.

DigiPay eCheck Pilot

In pilot mode, we began offering eCheck on the DigiPay site February 2 to provide our citizens another payment method. Citizens can enter their bank routing number and bank account number to initiate an electronic debit from their bank account for the amount of their choice. This creates a transaction similar to a bank draft, but is citizen-initiated rather than Town-initiated. Without advertisement, about 10 citizens per day are selecting the eCheck option.

Like with a credit card, citizens can schedule recurring payments using eCheck. These payments carry only a 20-cent processing fee, which could provide cost savings for the Town if a citizen chooses eCheck in lieu of a credit card. The scale of the positive impacts of this payment option will become evident in payment analysis over time.

Reclaimed Water Holiday In Progress

Our annual reclaimed water system maintenance shutdown is underway as of Monday, February 13 with plans to be restored by February 23. Since 2008, the Town has implemented a 10-day shutdown during the month of February when demands are lowest in an effort to minimize any inconvenience for reclaimed customers; the reclaimed water system includes approximately 820 meters. Year-round users are able to utilize a potable backup feed for uses such as cooling towers during the temporary shutdown. One of the key tasks associated with this year’s reclaimed holiday is replacing a 16-inch valve on Weston Parkway.

Bond Brothers included in USA Today’s Best New Brewery Competition

Bond Brothers in downtown Cary is in the running for USA Today’s Best New Brewery. It is the only North Carolina brewery on the list of 20. The winning brewery, determined by the number of votes, will be announced Friday, March 17.

Jordan Lake Water Intake Aeration System

In route from Down Under, the Jordan Lake Water Intake Aeration System has been loaded onto a ship in Australia for transport to the United States. We anticipate its arrival sometime next month.

Fluoride Update

The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility typically adds fluoride to drinking water as recommended by state and federal regulatory agencies and public health organizations. The fluoride feed at CAWTF has been temporarily out of service due to construction upgrades but is expected to be in service very soon. Our chemist typically receives 3-5 calls/e-mails per year with questions about fluoride. Plant staff monitors fluoride additions very closely to consistently maintain fluoride at the target concentration in our drinking water. Some of the safeguards that have been implemented to prevent an overfeed include things such as operator checks of fluoride concentrations every hour and having two operators on duty each shift.

Upcoming Staff Reports

At Tuesday’s work session, staff will be presenting information about the Wake Transit Plan and the related FY18 work plan.

At Thursday’s Council meeting, some staff reports include:

  • Ordinance amendment related to towing from private lots
  • Bid award for the Kilmayne Drive elevated water storage tank
  • Bid award for 2017 water main replacement project

Recognitions

Welcome Danna Widmar, who joined the Town on Thursday as our first Director of Special Projects.

I also wanted to share a story about a Public Works employee. John Holland was traveling to a work site and noticed a boring contractor with drilling equipment at an intersection near Highway 55. John stopped to request information from the contractor to ensure they had properly notified the Town of their location. He discovered that the contractors had not notified the Town of the intent to bore and were on target to cross a 20-inch diameter water main that had not been located. Another Public Works employee, Jeff Christian, arrived on site and confirmed the depth of the bore would have hit the 20-inch water main. A 20-inch water main is one of our larger sizes of transmission mains and would have impacted the entire western pressure zone with a sizable break and potentially triggered a boil water advisory. Fortunately the boring operation was halted just in time, thanks to the quick thinking and proactive response from John Holland and Jeff Christian.

And lastly, the Cary American Legion Post 67 recognized Officer Whitney Hall as 2016 Police Officer of the Year. She was recognized for her “keen understanding of the intricacies of criminal investigations and an appreciation of teamwork necessary to bringing offenders to justice.” Congratulations, Officer Hall.

 

Emails this week included an announcement from WakeMed and Duke Health. They have signed a joint operating agreement to work collaboratively to create an integrated heart service line. This will bring together all of the heart services, providers and facilities of WakeMed and Duke together into a single heart service. Heart Care Plus+ is the name for the organizational, governance and administrative structure. The name will also be used to reference and describe these services for patients and physicians. There are no plans for Heart Care Plus+ buildings or building signs. Discussions are underway around similar cancer services collaboration in Wake County.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about trees being planted in a walking path.
  • A request to honor an art student.
  • Requests to support and oppose the Trimble Avenue proposal.
  • A complaint of no road improvements on Carpenter Fire Station Road.

Next week will be busy and include a work session on transit, the Cary Police Department awards, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and several other meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 26th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, February 12th, 2017

This was another busy week for me.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of any questions or concerns they may have about the agenda for the 1st regularly scheduled meeting of the month. Since the agenda was very short and only had two non-controversial discussion items, there were no questions or concerns. Later in the day I met with the staff to go over the agenda. The meeting was very short. After the meeting I met with one of the Assistant town managers along with Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha to get an update on items.

Monday evening I met with two individuals from the Chinese American Friendship Association. They presented a beautiful gift from the China national film museum. We also took pictures with the gift. It will be on display in the mayor/council office.

Tuesday I met with the Director of Community Affairs for the North Carolina Turnpike Authority. I was joined by two key staff members with knowledge about town road projects. We spent time getting to know each other and briefly talking about the future interchange of the turnpike and Morrisville Parkway. We both agreed that as time progresses and this region grows that the turnpike would be a key route for vehicles. Our meeting concluded in just under an hour.

Wednesday I had an impromptu interview with a scout just as I finished a workout. He asked several questions about governance and working with people and groups. We talked for about 15 minutes.

Wednesday I met with an involved citizen that lives west of highway 55. They spoke of disappointment with the lack of events and infrastructure in the area. It was mentioned that a group, and possibly a PAC, has been formed to run candidates for Cary Town Council. We talked about ways to improve the perception in this area of town. Our meeting lasted a little over an hour.

Thursday the council held the first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. It was a very short meeting and lasted only 16 minutes. There were no public hearings, no one spoke at Public Speaks Out, and there were only 2 discussion items.

The first discussion item was a resolution authorizing the issuance of Revenue Bonds. The $37.5 million bond package included $14.6 million in the water plant expansion, $3.5 million for the Kilmayne water tank, $10 million in upgrading water lines, and several other projects. Since Cary has the highest bond rating of all the major bond rating agencies we get the lowest possible interest rates. The debt service for this issuance will be approximately $2.3 million per year over the life of the bonds which should end in 2042. These bonds may be refinanced if better terms are available.

The second discussion item was the bid award for the Green Level West Road Widening Project. Council awarded the contract to the lowest bid of $3,661,500. Construction of the project is scheduled to start in the spring of 2017 with completion in summer 2018.  The project is funded in part by Federal grants administered by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the 2012 Community Investment Bond Referendum.

Friday I participated in a meeting with the metro mayors on legislative actions. Here are some notes from the lobbyist’s summary of that meeting:

2017 Biennial Budget Process Begins

The most important reason the General Assembly is in town is to pass the state budget.  The House and Senate have scheduled a joint appropriations committee meeting for Tuesday at 8:30am to review the consensus revenue forecast for 2017-2019.  The Senate is scheduled to work on the budget first this year.  Yesterday the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division and the Office of State Budget and Management released their consensus revenue forecast predicting 2016-17 State tax collections would exceed the forecast by $552.2m. 

Carthage Water Case

There are legislators working on the impacts of the Carthage Water Case on impact fees but they have told some of our Mayors that most are not hearing from their municipality about the issue.  Mayors on the conference call today requested that everyone please talk to their legislators about the need for a solution going forward.

Municipal Election Bill

I would highlight H64 which will move all municipal elections to even numbered years starting in 2022.

House Finance Hears Briefing on Local Option Sales Taxes

The House Finance Committee began the new session hearing an educational briefing from the nonpartisan staff on revenue sources, tax reform highlights, local option sales taxes, and other tax issues that are likely topics of legislation. During the presentation staff said they included local option sales tax as a topic as any changes in the sales tax base impacts local revenues and they said interest remained in giving counties flexibility within the current caps and referenced HB1224 from the 2014 session. 

Meeting with Senate Commerce Chairs

The NC Chamber organized a meeting of rural advocates to meet with Senate Commerce Chairs Sen. Gunn and Sen. Wade to share ideas on addressing rural economic development.  We were pleased to be included in this meeting which gave us the chance to share our regionalism concept with others which was well received. 

NCDOT Sec. Trogdon Speaks with NCBOT

Sec. Trogdon highlighted his priorities for the Department before the Board of Transportation last week which included producing a plan by March 1st to accelerate project delivery in the TIP and reduce the Department’s fund balance, increasing mobility and reducing congestion, increasing the capabilities of the divisions and MPOs, improving connectivity, enhancing economic competitiveness, and preparing for autonomous vehicles among other items.  He said he plans to visit each NCDOT division and MPO and many of the local chambers of commerce in the next months.

Rep. Torbett on Transportation This Session

I participated in a meeting convened by the NC Chamber of transportation advocates with Rep. Torbett to hear his thoughts on transportation this session.  Rep. Torbett talked about the draft bills his House Select Committee recommended on the creation of a mega project fund, a retooled infrastructure bank, a study of transportation funding, and increasing the voice of local elected officials in the STI.  He talked about the need to index Powell Bill funding to ensure it grows as municipal needs expand, looking at various bonding options such as GARVEE, revenue bonds, or general obligation bonds to accelerate projects and allowing counties to participate in funding transportation projects should they so desire.

Bridging our Urban and Rural Regions Op-Ed

If you haven’t read the http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article129403254.htmlop-ed we co-wrote with The Rural Center take a moment to do so.  We continue to hear positive feedback on changing the dialogue to one of bridges and encourage you to promote the positive benefits of regionalism and cooperation between the urban, suburban and rural parts of our State.

The meeting concluded after about 45 minutes.

The report from the town manager this week included the following:

Local Cary Bill Introduced at the General Assembly

Representative Gail Adcock, along with Representatives Linda Hunt Williams, Nelson Dollar and Duane Hall, are the primary sponsors of H55 Apex/Cary/Police Assistance on School Grounds. This local bill was requested as part of Cary’s 2017 NC Legislative Agenda, which we presented to our delegation on January 31. If passed, it will provide authority for Apex Police to continue working at Apex High School while it is temporarily located at a new school in Cary while the older school is being rebuilt. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on State and Local Government II.

District 3 Police Substation Underway

Work is underway on the Council approved District 3 police substation in Wellington Shopping Center at Tryon Road and Cary Parkway. This will replace our substation that closed in Crossroads Plaza. The space should be operational in April. All District 3 officers will work out of this substation, which includes five patrol teams consisting of a sergeant, a corporal and four-six officers.

Pirates Cove Greenway Boardwalk: Renovations Complete

Contractors working on behalf of the Town recently completed renovations to the Pirates Cove Greenway Boardwalk. The existing 80′ wood boardwalk footings were undermined by the adjacent stream. To fix the situation, a 114′ long concrete boardwalk replaced the existing structure and was recently reopened to the public.

2016 Water Supply & Usage Report

The 2016 report provides some key takeaways about our water supply and usage. Notably, we are very efficient in our use of water, particular with newer development. We have a higher degree of certainty where our water is going benchmarked against other communities. As always, weather is a significant predictor of our overall water usage. The Town has been conservative in our long term projections, but will certainly grow into those projections over time.

Neighborhood Meeting for Rezoning Request

The required neighborhood meeting for the rezoning request for a portion of the mall is set for March 1, and nearby property owners are receiving notification letters this week.

Share & Care Event

Town staff organized a free event for persons with disabilities, parents and caregivers and encouraged them to stop by Herb Young Community Center for a free event intended for resource sharing and networking. Community organizations and agencies that offer services for persons with disabilities were on hand to share information about what they have to offer the community. A small sample of attending agencies included: Abilities Tennis NC, Duke Adaptive Climbing, Gateway Clubhouse, Horse and Buddy Therapeutic Riding Program among many others.

Academy Streetscape Nominated for “Champion Award

As part of the annual Triangle Commercial Real Estate Women (TCREW) luncheon, the Town of Cary is being recognized for the Community Enhanced Award for the Academy Streetscape Project. This award is given to a public or private project that enhances its community through improved quality of life, aesthetic appeal and/or other positive aspects. The winning project will be announced at the annual luncheon on April 25 at the Embassy Suites in Cary.

Recognitions

A special thanks to Chief Cain, Loren Cone and Mike Cooper for organizing a cross-departmental waterline break tabletop exercise. The exercise tested our procedures for a water main break response, communicating with internal and external stakeholders, and generated rich discussion on our overall emergency response. 

Emails from staff this week included attendance information from the Chinese Lantern festival. After a seven-week residency complete with Chinese culture and spectacular lantern displays, total attendance for the recent N.C. Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary reached 90,501 visitors. Attendance increased 58 percent from last year, by more than 30,000 visitors to Koka Booth Amphitheatre. This tally includes a January weekend in which the festival was closed due to inclement weather. This year’s festival added many new lantern displays as well as cultural performances that included traditional dance, martial arts and acrobatics. Festival organizers and the Town of Cary also announced today the popular attraction will return. The 3rd annual N.C. Chinese Lantern Festival will run November 24, 2017 through January 14, 2018.

Emails from citizens this week include:

  • A complaint about traffic on Waldo Rood.
  • Several thank you emails for agreeing to attend events.
  • A comment about the future of Green Level Church Road.

Next week will ease up a bit for me. On the calendar is a meeting with the town manager, an interview with WUNC about HB2 for their documentary, an interview with 96.1 on “what is right about our city”, a meeting with CAMPO leaders (I am the vice chair) and NCDOT to discuss STIP and TIP regional priorities, a CAMPO regular meeting, and a meeting of the metro mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 19th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, February 05th, 2017

This week was a busy week for me.

My first meeting on Monday was cancelled. The town manager and I usually meet every Monday but since we just spent two full days together there was not a lot for us to meet about.

Monday evening I joined council members Bush, Smith, and Yerha at the annual Lazy Daze grants awards. Each year a committee takes proceeds from Lazy Daze and gives grants to organizations that promote the arts. This year there were 38 applicants that met the criteria and all of them received grants. In all $40,000 was awarded. Since the inception of this program there has been over $700,000 put back into community organizations. This year’s Lazy Daze will be another 2 day festival and will be held at the town hall campus.

Tuesday I taped an abbreviated version of the State of Cary address for Cary TV. Over the weekend I took the original address of 2500 words and reduced it to 700 words. IMHO the abbreviated version seemed choppy and didn’t flow well. But expecting someone to watch 20 minutes of an entire address is unrealistic. So hopefully people will watch this version.

Tuesday night the town council hosted 5 members of the Wake County legislative delegation and 1 member from the Chatham County legislative delegation. The purpose was to present our Advocacy Principles and our legislative agenda. Our Advocacy Principles are the same every year and are as follows:

  • The citizens of Cary expect us to maintain our streets to high standards, maintain the look and feel of Cary through land planning, protect our drinking water and use revenues wisely.
  • As a consequence, we need the authority to make transportation, land planning, development and spending decisions that consider the hopes and dreams of our community.

Our legislative agenda is as follows:

  • While we are taking the lead, this is a joint request with the Town of Apex. We are seeking a local bill to authorize the Apex Police Department to continue to serve Apex High School students while the school is located in Cary due to major renovations
  • We would support an option for municipalities to change their election dates to even-numbered years if that is what those communities want. For Cary, right now, we like the current system, but are would support an option for cities that want it.
  • We will support legislation that promotes small cell wireless infrastructure while retaining municipal control over the development process and local rights of way. Staff has been working collaboratively with providers to come up with a standard that could be approved in a very streamlined way. We understand that this infrastructure is important to our citizens, our businesses and economic development.
  • Protect Jordan Lake. This is the water source for Cary, Morrisville, Apex, RDU and part of RTP.
  • And, closely related, is protection of riparian buffers. Buffers prevent water quality degradation by trapping sediment and preventing nutrients and pollutants from reaching streams and rivers. Protecting these buffers from intense development also preserves floodplains and mitigates risks of flooding.
  • Support legislation to amend the Iran Divestment Act to make compliance less of an administrative burden.

I also presented information related to the Capital Area Metropolitan Organization’s SPOT 4 program to the delegation. The group had a great discussion about the urban rural divide in the legislature.  Senator Barringer and Senator Chaudhuri were especially vocal about looking for ways to bridge the divide. We adjourned after about two hours.

Wednesday I presented the State of Cary address to the Cary MacGregor Rotary Club. This was the second live presentation. It was very similar to the first but included extra slides and updated slides with information from the council-staff retreat. There were about 50 people in attendance and they were all very kind. I answered a few questions and then stayed behind after the meeting to meet people and answer additional questions. My visit lasted about an hour.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial meeting for one item. The attorney representing the clients asked that the matter be tabled until the March 2nd quasi-judicial meeting because one of his expert witnesses was seriously ill. Council unanimously tabled the item and the meeting ended in a record time of 3 minutes.

Friday I was scheduled to participate in a meeting of the Metro mayors. But since there was little action this week in the legislature the meeting was cancelled.

The town manager’s weekly report included the following:

Hello from NYC!

Yesterday for two days of meetings, Karen Mills, Mary Beth Huber and I traveled to New York City to meet and present to the three rating agencies. I’m so appreciative of this trip and the opportunity it affords me to meet our bond agencies as well as join Karen and Mary Beth in demonstrating the Town’s consistent approach to prudent financial management.

Cary Parkway & West Chatham Street Signal

 NCDOT put into operation a new traffic signal this week at Cary Parkway at West Chatham Street. Additional intersection improvements include protected pedestrian crossings on West Chatham Street and SW Cary Parkway

Naming Town Facilities

Given discussions on the Good Hope Farm project at last week’s retreat, I looked into our naming policy and found the following, Policy Statement 171, adopted by Council in 2014. Staff is making edits to ensure current and future projects adhere to the policy.

Implicit Bias Training for Cary Police

In January, the Police Department partnered with the International Academy of Public Safety to bring a “train the trainer” session for Leadership and Implicit Bias for the Law Enforcement Instructor. The focus of the course was centered on implicit and explicit biases, recognizing bias and affecting personal strategies to recognize those biases, the magnanimous/virtuous officer, setting aside ego and maintaining self-control under stressful conditions and police dynamics in today’s policing environment. Additionally, representatives from 21 police agencies across the state (Wilmington to Charlotte) attended this training.

In light of our discussion at the retreat last week, this story is yet another example of things we do to maintain citizens’ trust and confidence in local government.

Paid Parental Leave Program

On Wednesday, the Town’s Paid Parental Leave Program went into effect as a result of Council’s approval in January. As a reminder, this program will provide six weeks of paid leave available within 12 months of the qualifying event of birth or placement of a child through adoption, foster care or guardianship. We’re excited to have the opportunity to introduce this as another component of our comprehensive compensation package.

Successful Burn at the Bluffs

 On Wednesday, the NC Forest Service, NC State Parks and our Fire Department conducted the annual controlled burn at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. This was the fourth burn at the Bluffs, and is part of the site’s natural resource management plan to help prevent wildfires.

Tax Collection Lawsuit Dismissed

The tax collection action Chatham County v. Kathleen A. Hampton, et al brought to collect unpaid taxes for 2014 and 2015 has been dismissed because the taxes were paid. Cary was named defendant in the action because it too had a tax claim against Hampton. Chatham County is responsible for collecting Town taxes in that county, so with resolution of this action, the delinquent taxes due to Cary have been paid.

Recognitions

Police Officer Lee Carter was recognized by peers this quarter for his work with one of our elderly citizens. A woman called the Total Life Center at Bond Park to advise she didn’t have any food to eat. When Officer Carter arrived at the house, he found the lady in tears. She explained that she was desperate for food and the grocery store had terminated its delivery service. In addition to doing a simple welfare check, Officer Carter went the extra mile to set up a food order with the grocery store, picked them up, and hand deliver them to the woman.

On Tuesday, I asked Jerry Jensen to serve as Acting Director for Transportation & Facilities. Lori Cove hired Jerry, and I think she would be glad to know that he’s agreed to step up.

Communications from staff this week included some interesting information about storm water runoff. Over the past twenty years great strides have been made in resolving storm water concerns around Town. Many of these successes were facilitated through Policy Statement 35 – Storm Drainage System Petitions and Policy Statement 146 – Storm Water Capital Improvements Requests which have been fine-tuned by Council over the years. Through discussion with attorneys it was found that the town’s ability to manage storm water off the rights-of-way is limited by law in North Carolina, including the N.C. Constitution. In the opinion of one lawyer in this field of expertise, the law does not permit the town to pay or provide benefits to private individuals or entities unless it serves a larger public purpose. Thus it makes it extremely difficult to help property owners around town experiencing storm water issues.

The fourth quarter report from 2016 included the following information:

  • Cary’s population is 159,167 which is a 2.08% increase in the last 12 months.
  • There were 201 single family lots and 116 townhomes approved in the fourth quarter.
  • Cary had 10.3% of all single family permits in the country which was fourth behind Raleigh, Apex, and Holly Springs.
  • The average size of a single family dwelling was 3760 square feet compared to 3925 square feet in 2012.
  • There were 312 CO’s issued for single family dwellings and no multi-family CO’s
  • Water demand for the quarter averaged 17.9 million gallons a day which was 1.2 million gallons a day higher than 2015.
  • Larceny made up 74% of all Part 1 crimes in Cary.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A request to do something about Trump’s immigration order.
  • A request to part a particular artist’s work on the 13 acre downtown site.
  • A question about the timeline of announced Wegmans.
  • A request to hold future council-staff retreats in downtown Cary.
  • Several requests for recommendation letters and congratulatory letters.
  • A question about the Trimble Avenue proposal.
  • A question about the potential of “Pianos on Parade”

Last week I promised to include my entire State of Cary address. So here it is:

As mayor I am honored and proud to deliver my 10th State of Cary address. I would like to take this opportunity to present the accomplishments of 2016, talk about some of the issues we face not only this year but in years to come, and provide an update of several key projects.

As we begin the year, our citizens continue to enjoy a premium quality of life, a flourishing economy, and a strong job market. Cary has an incorporated area of just under 60 square miles. Over 157,000 people from all over the world call Cary home, and we continue to have a sustainable growth rate of less than 3%. We have the lowest tax rate in Wake County and the highest quality of life.

Our citizens are well educated, diverse, and aging. Two thirds have college degrees, and about one fourth have advanced degrees. With 18 percent of our population from other countries representing sixty nationalities, Cary embraces and celebrates our diversity through numerous cultural programs that help us understand the values, experiences, and talents that each of us has to offer. Cary’s population is getting older, and it is estimated that five thousand, or 3 percent, of our residents now turn 65 every year.

2016 was another great year for Cary as we once again received numerous accolades. We are the safest municipality of our size in the nation according to the FBI. We were the recent recipient of the “Gold Medal Award” by the National Recreation and Parks Association.  This prestigious award is recognition of our ability to anticipate the community’s needs by devising, building and maintaining a diverse portfolio of recreational and cultural amenities.  Simply put, we have the best parks system in the country.

Cary was also named the number one boomtown in America, one of the best places to live in the nation, one of the most successful cities, one of the best educated communities, one of the best for middle class families, one of the best for telecommuting, one of the most cycle friendly communities, one of the best place for cost of doing business, one of the best places for a competitive labor market, one of the best places for career oriented professionals, and one of the happiest places in North Carolina. And that’s just a few of the awards this year.

Cary has benefited significantly from years of great planning, great staff, and great governance. We have created an extraordinary community that is one of the most desirable places to live, work, play, and conduct business in the nation. A big part of our continued success is our Town staff. In 2016, Cary saw important leadership changes. In February the Town Council appointed Virginia Johnson as Cary’s Town Clerk. In her first eleven months she has not only proven to be an excellent Town Clerk but has also been finding new ways to improve public records access as well as streamlining processes among the Council and staff. We are blessed to have such a great public servant in Ginny.

We also hired a new Town Manager in 2016. In our search, we made it clear to the candidates that we were looking for a leader who could take us to the next level. After an exhaustive nine-month search, the Town Council appointed Sean Stegall to the position last summer. Mr. Stegall served as city manager in Elgin, Illinois after serving in other municipalities and in the private sector. He is a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia and the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. In addition to his excellent qualifications, he brings us a new perspective in our quest to make sure our levels of service remain the highest. Sean has been very busy in his first six months and has reached out to Council, community leaders, and citizens to learn what makes Cary great. He has been challenging his staff and the Council to think more outside the box and to consider innovative ways of doing things that may be drastically different from what we are doing today.

One of Mr. Stegall’s first questions to me was whether I would be satisfied with today’s excellent level of service for the next 10 to 20 years or would I want to improve on it. He explained that maintaining our levels of excellence will be difficult and improving upon those levels would likely require significantly more resources. Personally, I believe that our Council, our businesses, and our citizens want Cary to continually improve. If we accept our levels of excellence of today as good enough, even though they are probably the goal of most communities in this nation, then I believe we will go the way of companies like Blackberry and Sears. They were once top companies in the nation and are now fighting for their survival. So as we move forward let us evolve into something greater and constantly look for new and innovative ways to make us better.  But at the same time let us never forget those things that made us a premiere community and find ways to protect them.  Let us never sacrifice the future to ease the pain in the present. 

Improving on our excellent level of service might not be an easy but it something that we are well positioned to tackle.  Cary benefitted from the rapid growth over last three decades and the infrastructure that supported that growth has begun to show its age.  Our aging infrastructure will require additional investment if we are to avoid the pitfalls of countless other communities.  Their approach was to avoid the difficult conversations which resulted in a lack of investment in infrastructure which inevitably translated into community-wide disinvestment and lower property values, from business owners to homeowners.  This will put a great amount of pressure on the elected officials to hold the tax rate down.

They will be presented with choice of cutting into the levels of service, sacrificing aesthetics and programming, finding more revenue, or all of the above. For example, future Councils could decide that our beautifully landscaped medians could be altered to lower cost by removing labor intensive trees and shrubs and replacing them with just grass or even concrete. Other cost-saving measures could include reducing our cultural programming, using less equipment and fewer people in public works, and having our police officers and firefighters use outdated equipment while trying to keep us all safe. While these actions can reduce our costs they will have a huge impact on our levels of service, the value of our homes, and our quality of life. And that is NOT the Cary way! Cary is about excellence.

As a matter of fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a local government that provides a higher level of service with fewer taxpayer dollars than Cary.

So how do we tackle maintaining excellence and moving to the next level of excellence as expenses mount? One way is by focusing on growing our economy. This will require overcoming many obstacles such as business unfriendly legislation like HB2. We can no longer wait for companies to show interest in North Carolina before recruiting them. Instead we must travel to them. I am confident that if companies in areas like Silicon Valley and New York knew what Cary had to offer, more would be very interested in growing there businesses here.  So it’s incumbent upon all of us as community leaders to tell them.

But before we present ourselves outside of North Carolina we must rebrand ourselves. Why? We need to change the perception by some that Cary is a small town in North Carolina that is no longer a progressive state, or the perception that Cary is just a bedroom community of Raleigh. We must let everyone know that Cary has worldwide headquarters of major corporations; we are America’s home for amateur sports and much, much more. Our brand needs to be known as having demographics that are incredible and a talent pool is immense. We can start before a branding campaign has even begun. For example, this year I intentionally titled this annual address as State of Cary rather than State of the Town. While we all love, embrace, and want to protect our small town values, we must realize that those places like Silicon Valley and New York might have a different perception of the Town identification. Changing this perception begins with how we brand ourselves.

Another key component moving to the next level of excellence is by focusing on our existing businesses especially the small businesses. We must find more ways to engage them hear their ideas, help them be even more successful and grow. After all, they are the backbone of our community.

Public-private partnerships must continue to be encouraged and sought out. Our citizens need to understand that their participation is vital in keeping our community great. We cannot move to the next level of excellence without their involvement and support. One way to show that support is through financing capital projects with their affirmative votes on future bond referenda.

To get to the next level, technology must play a key role. We will need to increase our leveraging of technology in our operations, which can save us time and money in the end.

If we strive for the next level of excellence, rebrand ourselves, support our businesses, involve our community, seek partnerships, leverage technology, there is no limit on how great our community can be. But if we are not proactive it will be a monumental task.

The first step of moving to the next level requires understanding where we are currently focusing our efforts today.

The Cary Community Plan, referred to as Imagine Cary, has been a major community effort for years and was approved on January 24th. This all inclusive plan includes development, transportation, housing, the environment, economic development, and other related topics. The Cary Community Plan was crafted to protect what has made us great and is insightful of what is needed to grow our economy and meet the needs of our changing population. If we stick to the Cary Community Plan as we move forward we will have strategic, balanced growth with sufficient services.

A major chapter of the Cary Community Plan is the Eastern Gateway which is bounded by Chapel Hill Road, Walnut Street, I40, and Maynard Road. It consists of an employment based mixed use, an office campus, enhanced gateways entrances to the town, a soccer campus, an aquatic/fitness campus, a commercial based mixed use, multifamily residential, and much more. While office will be a priority it will not be dominant. One of the focal points of the Eastern Gateway is the Cary Town Center mall, which is owned by CBL. Another big focal point of the Eastern Gateway is the state site which is along Cary Town Boulevard. Columbia development is working on a proposal that will likely include a Wegmans along with a vertical and horizontal mix of uses. Activity has already begun in the Eastern Gateway with a multifamily proposal in the northwestern corner that was approved last fall. And the Eastern Gateway continues to generate lots of inquiries.

Downtown Cary has been a major area of focus especially during this past year. The Academy Streetscape has been completed and not only provides an aesthetically pleasing vista to our signature street in downtown but has the infrastructure capacity to support future development and redevelopment for decades. The first phase of the downtown park is nearing completion. A library and parking deck adjacent to the park have been approved and funded and is currently under design. It is scheduled to open in late 2018. We’re seeing the completion of the completion of the Mid-Town Square building with 25,000 square feet of office and some ground floor retail There have also been a lot of business announcements and openings in downtown: Bond Brother’s Beer Company, Pizzeria Faulisi, La Farm Bakery, Jordan Lake Brewery, Pro’s Epicurean Market & Café, Annelore’s German Bakery, Chatham Street Wine Market, FRESH Local Ice Cream, Bottle Dog Bites & Brew, Hustle Fitness Studio, Everything’s Better Monogrammed, Cary Florist and new owners of Academy Street Bistro, just to name a few. In addition, the $51 million development proposal at Chatham Street and Harrison Avenue is still in the works. If approved, that proposal would include 55,000 to 75,000 square feet of retail and office, 188 multifamily units, and a 466 space parking deck. 

Outside of downtown has seen a lot of activity as well with several street projects, parks, and fiber installation.

The Walnut Street at US 1 project, a key intersection in town, is complete and offers much needed pedestrian improvements and the addition of landscaped medians.

Two parks, Jack Smith Park and Carpenter Park, opened last year.

And Google fiber continues their installation and has confirmed their interest in Cary despite announcing the cancellation of several planned installations in other parts of the country. These installations, which started in Morrisville, are moving west to east but is moving much slower than anticipated. AT&T’s availability in Cary continues to be much greater than Google’s at this point.

2017 will be another busy and exciting time in Cary with several changes and challenges.

Cary launched a new and improved website earlier this month; it’s providing our citizens with more options and much improved navigation.

Three major street projects will begin construction this year including the intersection of Cary Parkway and High House Road, the realignment of the Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge, and Green Level West construction. While the projects will certainly create headaches, once finished they will drastically improve transportation in those areas.

The approval of the Wake Transit plan should mean expansion of bus service in Cary this year. The additional connections and frequency should continue to add ridership, which means expanded employment and business opportunities for our citizens.

The decisions made at the state and national level will continue to have an impact on Cary. On a national level there is a lot of uncertainty with a new administration. On a state level, the fallout from the rural versus urban divide will once again create a lot of uncertainty.

One challenge we will face this year, along with the rest of the country, has not gotten a lot of attention in Cary. Opioid addiction is beginning to have a significant impact in Cary with over 100 overdoses resulting in some deaths last year. Now is the time to act and make decisions before this problem becomes much worse.

2017 will be an exciting time as we see many areas transforming that have been waiting years for change. Like previous years we will continue to face difficult challenges. But I am confident that with Cary’s staff, community and business leaders, and our citizen’s involvement we are well positioned to confront any challenge and remain the greatest municipality in America.

Thank you.

Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include several meetings with special interests, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and a meeting of the metro mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 12th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 29th, 2017

This was a very busy for me week for me.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of questions or concerns about Tuesday regularly scheduled council meeting agenda. I was able to contact all council members and there were very few questions or concerns. Later Monday I met with staff to go over the agenda. Based on the lack of public hearings I believed the meeting would last about an hour and a half.

Following the agenda meeting I, along with Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, met with the town manager for my weekly one-on-one. We mostly talked about the retreat and a downtown business. Our meeting concluded after about thirty minutes.

Tuesday was a busy day for me and council.

We had a work session to hear the goals and work plans of each town advisory board. Each board chair person presented their goals and then answered questions. Afterwards, the council liaison for each board made a motion to approve the goals and work plans. All were passed unanimously. The work session lasted about 45 minutes.

Afterwards the council held their second regularly scheduled meeting of the month. Regularly scheduled meetings are usually held on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. But since the council-staff working retreat started Thursday night the meeting had to be moved. The meeting included 16 consent agenda items and 7 discussion items. In addition, there was a closed session. Several people spoke about the Cary Community Plan worrying that the plan’s designation would prevent them from rezoning their land. Actually, the plan called for more flexibility in that matter. After discussing the plan at length including the concerns of the citizens, the council unanimously approved the plan. In other actions the council approved the plan for Lazy Daze to be 2 days again this year on town hall campus. Council also adopted a Resolution approving Interlocal Agreement for the Administrative Distribution of the Wake County $7 Vehicle Registration Tax. Our meeting concluded after a little over two and a half hours.

Wednesday I presented the State of Cary address to a crowd of 230 at the Cary Chamber’s Eye Opener breakfast. I spent a couple of weeks writing and rewriting this address and passed it along to the PIO office and the town manager for fact checking a little over a week ago. I spent the last week creating a PowerPoint and rehearsing the PowerPoint slides so that I could speak from the slides. I thought my presentation went well and there were only a couple of minor points I forgot to make. I will make the entire address available in next week’s blog. Here are just a couple of excerpts from the address:

“… Improving on our excellent level of service might not be an easy but it something that we are well positioned to tackle.  Cary benefitted from the rapid growth over last three decades and the infrastructure that supported that growth has begun to show its age.  Our aging infrastructure will require additional investment if we are to avoid the pitfalls of countless other communities.  Their approach was to avoid the difficult conversations which resulted in a lack of investment in infrastructure which inevitably translated into community-wide disinvestment and lower property values, from business owners to homeowners.  This will put a great amount of pressure on the elected officials to hold the tax rate down…

So how do we tackle maintaining excellence and moving to the next level of excellence as expenses mount? One way is by focusing on growing our economy. This will require overcoming many obstacles such as business unfriendly legislation like HB2. We can no longer wait for companies to show interest in North Carolina before recruiting them. Instead we must travel to them. I am confident that if companies in areas like Silicon Valley and New York knew what Cary had to offer, more would be very interested in growing there businesses here.  So it’s incumbent upon all of us as community leaders to tell them.

But before we present ourselves outside of North Carolina we must rebrand ourselves. Why? We need to change the perception by some that Cary is a small town in North Carolina that is no longer a progressive state, or the perception that Cary is just a bedroom community of Raleigh. We must let everyone know that Cary has worldwide headquarters of major corporations; we are America’s home for amateur sports and much, much more. Our brand needs to be known as having demographics that are incredible and a talent pool is immense. We can start before a branding campaign has even begun. For example, this year I intentionally titled this annual address as State of Cary rather than State of the Town. While we all love, embrace, and want to protect our small town values, we must realize that those places like Silicon Valley and New York might have a different perception of the Town identification. Changing this perception begins with how we brand ourselves. …”

My presentation lasted roughly twenty minutes and then I spent about 10 minutes answering questions. I will deliver the address again this coming week to the Rotary Club. Also, a version of the address will be taped to be shown on our Community access channel.

Thursday the council traveled to Wrightsville Beach for the annual council-staff working retreat. That evening the council had dinner in the hotel (open to the public) and discussed only social issues not related to the town. It was a good time to get to know each other better on a personal level.

Friday the council began the two day planning retreat. Our first topic introduced to megatrends. Some points that I thought were worth repeating:

  • Our population is now over 159,000.
  • 30% of our population is minority with the largest minority being Asian.
  • Our tax base has gone from rapidly expanding to slow and steady.
  • We have moved from a suburban boomtown to an established city.
  • More people travel to work in Cary than leave for work.

Our second session was on Trust and Confidence in Government. Here are some points from that discussion:

  • Trust in Federal government has gone down steadily since 1960.
  • There is a correlation between unemployment rates and mistrust.
  • As populations grow trust usually goes down. In Cary it went up.
  • BEFORE house bill 2 North Carolina ranked 43rd in trust.
  • The last Cary Bond to fail was the Aquatic Center in 1999.
  • Interesting quote: “Seek first to understand before being understood.”

At lunch on Friday I was joined by the Mayor Bill Blair, Mayor Pro-Tem Darryl Mills, and council member Hank Miller from Wrightsville Beach. There were an absolute joy to talk with and had very interesting problems with massive swings in population and addressing infrastructure needs.

Friday afternoon’s first session was on fiscal sustainability and again infrastructure. Here are notable items from that discussion:

  • Stormwater pipes and issues on private property are the responsibility of the homeowner. Legally you can spend public funds on private property.
  • North Carolina has a grade of C for infrastructure.
  • Cary’s infrastructure grade is a B to B-.
  • Cary treats 6.3 billion gallons of wastewater every year.
  • Cary spends a significant amount of time trying to stay ahead of issues such as water breaks.
  • Cary has 79 miles of greenway.
  • Five out of the nine fire stations are at least 20 years old.
  • 60% of our streets are at least 20 years old.
  • 33% of our sidewalks are at least 20 years old.
  • In 2011 $1 million was spent on street resurfacing. $6 million was spent last year.
  • Cary has 227 miles of pipe in the public right-of-way.

Our last session on Friday was on medians and their importance as one of our defining characteristics. Items of note from that session include:

  • Many medians are maintained by Homeowners Association as part of their rezoning approval which allowed their neighborhood to be built.
  • 20 miles of the 40 miles of medians are planted.
  • Cary maintains NCDOT medians and is only reimbursed $50,000 of that cost.
  • It cost $1 million annually to maintain medians and shoulders which equates to $20 per household.

In this session council voted to change the ordinance for medians. All medians 6 feet or greater in width will be planted (use to be 8). Medians from 4 to 6 feet in width will now require brick (use to allow stamped concrete). Medians less than 4 feet in width will require concrete (nothing else allowed).

Our first session on Saturday was about our maturing community. It included two exercises. The first was to see what routes and places council visited most often. The exercise showed that almost all of us don’t visit certain areas of Cary very often. We challenged each other to take time to travel to different areas. Other notable items from this session include:

  • Cary’s population tripled from 1990 to 2010.
  • Cary’s population is estimated to be 200,000 by 2040.
  • Cary has the oldest median age of the 14 largest municipalities in North Carolina at 39.9 years.
  • 11% of our population is 65 years or older.
  • 17% of our population is between 55 and 65 years old.
  • 47% of our buildings including homes were built in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • 40 years is the average life expectancy of a home.
  • 12% of Cary homes are rentals.

In the next session the council named the park south of Morrisville Carpenter Road “Good Hope Farm”. The 30 acres of farmland will be preserved with long range plans to utilize the property for the purpose of focusing on the area’s agricultural history and farming practices.

The remainder of the retreat was spent on council and staff priorities.

It is important to note that during the retreat all that were present participated in the discussions. This was essential since staff members are the full time experts. In addition, staff members presented outside of their field of expertise as Cary’s town manager begins his process of breaking down silos. He believes, and I agree, that there is untapped talent and potential with this staff that is IMHO the best staff in the state if not the nation. From my perspective this was a great retreat especially to have two days of discussing and focusing on issues with key town staff and council. This time is invaluable as we plan to move forward in Cary.

Emails from staff this week announced the beginning of traffic signal operations at Chatham Street on Cary Parkway. The signals will be flashing until January 31st when they will become active.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A request to make my blogs accessible on mobile devices.
  • A question about future Wegmans.
  • A complaint about the Cary Community Plan.
  • A question about enforcement of no parking HOA rules in a subdivision.
  • A concern about pedestrian safety crossing at Chatham and Academy.
  • A question about water interruptions in a neighborhood (they were not in Cary limits).
  • A request to support an upcoming proposal on a Habitat for Humanity project.

Next week will continue to be busy for me. In addition to the typical meetings there is a Lazy Daze award ceremony, a taping of a short version of the State of Cary address, a second presentation of the State of Cary address to the MacGregor Rotary Club, a quasi-judicial hearing, and a legislative update.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 5th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

This week consisted of a few meetings and a ceremony.

Monday I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Eleven of the twelve mayors were in attendance with Raleigh’s mayor being the only one absent. Conversations focused on upcoming State of Town addresses and issues going on within municipalities. There was a good thirty minute discussion about whether municipalities should fund School Resource Officers. We adjourned after about two hours.

Tuesday I met with the town manager to go over several issues. Issues included an existing downtown business and a future downtown business for the Jones House which hopefully will announce soon. We also talked about the redevelopment of the mall called project emerald. Apparently, the potential business wants it to remain a secret even though it was on the front page of the News and Observer. All I can say is that project emerald equals blue and yellow. We will see how this is presented to the council in the future. Other topics included school resource officers, the future development of the state property, SAS, and my state of Cary address which was in draft form. Our meeting lasted about an hour.

Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Executive Board. I was honored to be elected as vice chairman for the 3rd consecutive year. Information was presented about Locally Administered Projects Program (LAPP) and Strategic Transportation Prioritization (SPOT). Cary did well in both of those funding sources. We should be approving recommendations for projects in those categories later in the year. There was also discussion on the Wake Transit Plan. Hopefully, we will see increased bus service in the near future. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.

Saturday I joined Mayor Stohlman of Morrisville for the opening and ribbon cutting of KidDilly Expo which was held at Cary’s Hilton Garden Inn. This event was for kids to enjoy fun activities, games, demonstrations, and entertainment from premier Western Wake businesses while parents visited and met with representatives from the top camps, birthday party venues, health-wellness centers and more. This was the first KidDilly in the area. The original KidDilly was held in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2009. After cutting the ribbon Mayor Stohlman and I visited all the booths at the expo.

The Town Managers report to council includes the following:

Next Week Preview: Work Session, Regular Meeting & Council/Staff Retreat

Our busy week begins Tuesday with a back-to-back work session and regular meeting. At the work session, Council will learn about the Boards and Committees’ goals for the upcoming year.

On Thursday, Council and staff will travel to Wrightsville for the annual retreat. We are excited to share presentations on mega-trends affecting the Town and learn more about your ideas for Cary in the future.

Similar to last year, we will share detailed retreat information in advance of our trip, including hotel and meal logistics. If you have any additional questions, please contact Lana Hygh.

Because next Friday will find us all together, there will be no weekly report from me next week.

2017 Candidate Forum Approach

For this fall’s Cary Community Candidate Forum staff is planning to use the same format Council approved for 2015 – individual candidates offered five minutes to share their thoughts live to tape in one take with no edits or use of teleprompter. 

I believe this offers all candidates an excellent opportunity to be heard while ensuring the Town is not put in a difficult position with regards to third-party forum managers and soliciting questions. Please share your concerns; otherwise, we will continue to move ahead.

Recommended Changes to Neighborhood Names

Based on Council direction at the previous work session, staff is recommending new names to use for the four “Neighborhood” development categories in Chapter 6, SHAPE, and to be used on the Future Growth Framework Map.

In summary, the recommended changes are:

  • Change “Heritage” to “Cary Heritage”
  • Change “Classic” to “Traditional Planned”
  • Change “New Classic” to “New Mixed Urban”
  • Change “Contemporary” to “Emerging Suburban”

Congressman Price Lunch

Congressman David Price’s district once again includes most of Cary. On Wednesday, he and his staff visited Cary. Mayor Pro Tem Yerha, Lana Hygh and I joined them for lunch at Academy Street Bistro along with Morrisville Town Manager Martha Paige and Morrisville Town Clerk/Intergovernmental Liaison Erin Hudson. We appreciated the opportunity to meet and get to know each other.

Chinese Lantern Festival Record Attendance

We are pleased to report record attendance for this year’s Chinese Lantern Festival. Attendance was 90,467 compared to last year’s approximate attendance of 52,000. The festival ran from Thanksgiving through mid-January.

Wake County Transit Plan Presentation

As Council was unable to attend the CAMPO presentation last week, we are passing along the information. It provides details on the current status of the Wake Transit Plan. You’ll see a related time at next week’s Council meeting.

Traffic Camera Expansion Project

Staff is moving forward with purchasing equipment to expand our traffic camera system. Our closed circuit television cameras provide substantial benefit to staff as these devices permit real-time monitoring of traffic operations for a range of scenarios, from normal peak hour operational analysis to on-demand traffic management due to a crash. The cost of installation has significantly dropped due to the emerging communication technology adopted by the Town (IP-based communication) and by the Town’s change in installation methods of the cameras. To see a map of current and proposed traffic camera locations go to http://www.townofcary.org/home/showdocument?id=12623.

December Construction & Development Activity

The Planning, Zoning and Development reports for December are below. You’ll also notice links to our interactive development map that illustrates different stages of development projects. Additionally, you’ll see a link to our current list of development projects in review and a link to the approved development projects as of January 1, 2017.

Meeting Place Pocket Park

Starting next week, we’re closing our Meeting Place Pocket Park at 601 Kildaire Farm Road. The closure will be in place through this spring while crews install a paved walkway and complete landscape improvements. Once reopened, visitors will have access to an attractive, intimate neighborhood gathering place with better access to the fire sculpture.

Greater Raleigh CVB Monthly Tourism Economic Development Report

Please take a moment to review this month’s Tourism Economic Development Report from the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau. The report highlights the CVB’s role in accelerating sustainable growth and development by increasing visitor and convention business. Do note the Wake County capsule and visitor industry statistical report as well as narrative activity reports from each Bureau department.

The report charts interactively display current and historical trend information on a variety of visitor-related economic development topics.

 Upcoming Staff Reports

The next Town Council Meeting is Tuesday, January 24. Upcoming staff reports of note include:

  • Expansion of Lazy Daze
  • Adoption of the Cary Community Plan
  • Wake County Vehicle Tax Interlocal Agreement

Recognitions

We’d like to recognize our expert communicators, Susan Moran and Carrie Roman, (as well as “subject matter superhero Jamie Revels”) for their article on water communications in the most recent edition of NC Currents, the NC American Water Works Association (AWWA)’s magazine.

Additionally, a thank you to Council member Jennifer Robinson for sharing information about a SAS webinar, “Prescription Pain Killers: The Latest (and Greatest) Threat to Child Welfare.” Staff watched the webinar, which provided valuable information about how data is being used at the state level to combat child interactions with opioids.

 

Emails from citizens this week included the following:

  • A concern about HMart’s garbage and aesthetics.
  • A concern about speeding on Reedy Creek Road.
  • A concern about the closed parking lot at Lake Crabtree.
  • A concern about the Imagine Cary Plan at US1 and Cary Parkway.

Next week will be busy with a work session and council meeting on Tuesday, my State of Cary address on Wednesday, and the council-staff working retreat starting on Thursday.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 29th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 15th, 2017

This week was an unusually slow week in the mayor’s office.

Monday I met with the town manager to go over several items. First we had a quick debrief on the town’s response to the snow/ice storm. Based on the information gathered Cary did very well and much better than our neighboring municipalities. Other topics discussed included the council/staff working retreat, a downtown business, the website redesign, develop update of the state property, redevelopment of the mall property, the town manager’s meeting with SAS, and my upcoming State of Cary address. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Tuesday I toured the CiVentiChem facility on Sheldon Drive. This is a pharma chemical company that does lab work. They describe themselves as a global provider of contract research, development, and manufacturing services with focus on providing simple solutions to complex chemistry. In layman’s terms they do chemical work for new drugs that may or may not be introduced in the market. My understanding is that all drugs have an active chemical ingredient in addition to additives for preserving and stabilizing. CiVentiChem does their chemical lab work on the active ingredient portion and produces a report as well as the solid form of that active ingredient. This is then passed along to the companies that make the drug. CiVentiChem employs close to twenty people with PhD’s in Chemistry.  Their equipment and facilities are worth millions of dollars. I was able to tour the various labs and actually see chemists at work. I spent about half an hour touring. I wish them great success and am glad they are in Cary.

Saturday I had the honor of providing welcome remarks at the 2017 Dreamfest Diversity Summit. Here is an excerpt from the remarks I made:

“I’m Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, and I’m honored to join you on behalf of our Town Council and the 157,000 people who call Cary home. Welcome to Dreamfest! This annual, weekend-long event celebrates the life, work and mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through a wide range of programs like today’s Diversity Summit.

We’ve held Dreamfest annually in Cary since 1999, and I’m proud of the opportunity to both highlight and reflect on the values Dr. King taught us through his example. The values of courage, truth, unconditional love, forgiveness and non-violence resonate with us all, regardless of our gender, race or ethnicity, Like King, we at the Town of Cary value the quality of life of our citizens, and we will continue to promote activities that encourage diversity in our community. …”

The Dreamfest Summit had two panel discussions. The first was with Pastors and the second was with educators. We are so blessed to have such a diverse community and people willing to discuss the hard issues.

Emails this week included the following announcement:

“North Carolina Football Club announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire the rights to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) 2016 Champion Western New York Flash. The club will be renamed North Carolina Courage (also referred to as NC Courage) and will play at WakeMed Soccer Park in the 2017 NWSL season. …”

We are so very proud to have a professional women’s team in Cary. We look forward to supporting them.

Email from the town manager’s report included:

Interbasin Transfer (IBT) Allocation Update

The EMC Water Allocation Committee met on January 11 and DEQ staff presented the Jordan Lake Allocation recommendations as an informational item. There was no discussion after the presentation about its content as the Committee heard a similar presentation last year. The Committee discussed meeting prior to recommending it to the Full Commission at its March 9 meeting. Town staff and the Jordan Lake Partners will be monitoring the situation closely and continuing to discuss any appropriate actions ahead of the March EMC meeting.

FFY18 LAPP Projects

In August 2016, the NC Capital Area MPO’s Executive Board (CAMPO) opened a call for projects to identify and program available FFY 2018 Locally Administered Projects Program (LAPP) funds. The call for projects resulted in submission of 25 eligible projects for consideration. Projects were reviewed for funding eligibility and scored based on the adopted LAPP prioritization criteria by CAMPO staff. The draft FFY 2018 LAPP Investment Program will be released for public review and comment from January 16-February 15, 2017 and CAMPO anticipates scheduling a public hearing at its February 15, 2017 Executive Board meeting. Three Town of Cary projects are proposed to be funded: Reedy Creek Road Improvements, Black Creek Greenway – Phase I & V, and GoCary Bus Stop Improvements.

Wake Manager’s Meeting

At this week’s meeting of the Wake managers, Wake County share information on a few new initiatives. They are beginning work on a 20-year Affordable Housing Plan for the county. A 32-member steering committee is tasked with providing guidance, contributing input and engaging the public. The committee includes residents, stakeholders and subject matter experts. One of your colleagues, Lori Bush, was recruited by Wake County to participate on the committee.

Additionally, Wake County, in collaboration with Raleigh, is in the beginning stages of creating the Oak City Outreach Multi-Service Center. This will be a “one-stop shop” intake, assessment and resource center for homeless and housing-fragile individuals.

Finally, we received a legislative preview from the League. As a reminder, your annual legislative dinner is scheduled for January 31. This will provide the first collective opportunity to engage our local legislators on issues of importance to Cary.

Transit Update

The work of the Transit Planning Advisory Committee continues to ramp up to ensure we are well positioned to begin work in the upcoming budget year. A workshop will be held before the next CAMPO meeting on January 18 at 3 p.m. You will see the Wake County Vehicle Registration Tax Interlocal Agreement at the upcoming Council meeting. This will assign the vehicle registration taxes to the transit authority. Following that, the Joint Agency Agreement (JAA) will be coming to all Wake municipalities. This is a high-level agreement that defines how the transit providers, GoTriangle and municipalities will work together to implement the Wake Transit Plan.

Emails from citizens included:

  • A request to help with a landlord.
  • Multiple kudos for Cary’s snow removal effort.
  • A concern about a proposed development on Trimble Drive.

Next week’s activities include a meeting of the Wake County Mayors, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board (CAMPO), and the KidDilly expo.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 22nd.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 08th, 2017

This was the first full week of the year. With the exception of Monday, this was a busy week.

Monday was a holiday for most people but some of us had to work. I didn’t mind since there was light traffic on the roads and at work.

Tuesday started with calls to council members to hear of their concerns and questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was only able to reach three members and there were no big concerns. Later in the day I met with management, public information, legal, and administration to go over the agenda items. Based on our discussion I believed that Thursday’s meeting would last about an hour and a half.

Tuesday evening I, along with Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha met with the town manager and others to go over various issues. Some of the items discussed were quasi-judicial hearings, downtown businesses, and council staff relationships. Our meeting lasted about an hour.

Tuesday night the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for one item. Before addressing the item I had the honor and privilege of swearing in former Cary Mayor Pro-Tem Gale Adcock to her second term as a North Carolina House Representative. Gale is loved by many in Cary and does a fantastic job representing us.

In the quasi-judicial meeting the council accepted a payment-in-lieu for bike lanes that was required of a development located at Highway 55 and Turner Creek Road. Council believed this was the safest thing to do since there are currently no bike lanes on Highway 55. In addition, council discussed sidewalks in the area and right-of-way for future road expansion. The vote to approve the request was unanimous.

The last meeting Tuesday was the work session on the Cary Community Plan called Imagine Cary. The council mostly focused on transportation recommendations. The following were approved by council to be included in the final draft to be voted on at the January 24th council meeting:

  • Council agreed with the recommendation for North Carolina 54/Chapel Hill Road to have an ultimate width of six lanes median divided.
  • Council agreed with the recommendation for Yates Store Road and Batchelor Road to follow existing property lines to the extent feasible.
  • After much debate council agreed to leave Green Level Church Road as a four lane median divided road to handle future traffic. Staff was directed to look at ways to be sensitive to the historic area.
  • Council agreed with the recommendation for Holly Springs and Tryon Road to be six lanes median divided.
  • After much debate council agreed to leave the Cary Parkway Extension on the map to connect to Trinity Road. Staff was directed to do a focused study on future development on Harrison from Cary Parkway to I40 to find out what impacts may occur if the Cary Parkway is extended.

The work session concluded after an hour and a half.

Wednesday I attended the Economic Forecast presented by Economics Professor Michael Walden from NC State. The majority of his comments were about impacts of the President-elect on the economy. Other interesting comments included:

  • Cary’s population will double by 2050.
  • The economy is significantly impacted by an aging nationwide population and automation.
  • Cary had a 68% building permit growth rate as compared to 7.1% in North Carolina and less than 2% nationwide.
  • Legislative changes nationwide will be at a rate not seen since the Johnson administration.

His presentation lasted about forty-five minutes.

Thursday before the council meeting I met with Weblos troop 152 from Genesis United Methodist Church. I talked about my duties as mayor and then answered a few questions. Then I told them what to expect in the council meeting later that evening. I am glad to see young people involved in their government.

Thursday night was the council’s first regularly scheduled meeting of the year. There were 13 consent agenda items, 3 public hearings, 8 discussion items, and a closed session.

In the public speaks out portion of the meeting several speakers spoke about Chapel Hill Road being widened to 6 lanes. As is sometimes the case, they were misinformed. The Cary Community Plan, which will be voted on at the January 24th meeting, has the ultimate width as 6 lanes. However it is just a plan and councils can and often do change plans. So that road width could change in the future to 4 lanes or 8 lanes depending on the wishes of the council at the time. In addition, there is currently no funding planned for this road. So unless NCDOT changes their priorities this is not likely to be widened for at least 10 years. Who knows it may never be widened to 6 lanes.

Council also discussed a Walnut Street rezoning proposal after the public hearing. This proposal has a fast food at the corner of Tryon Road and Walnut Street adjacent to the Macedonia Methodist Church. The proposal has challenges with egress and ingress. It will be interesting to see the recommendation from the Planning and Zoning board.

Paid parental leave for town employees allowing up to 6 weeks was approved with council and staff stating that this will allow Cary to recruit and retain the best talent in our quest to remain competitive and create the best staff in the country.

The Legislative agenda was also approved with 5 items. Those items were:

  • If legislation changes municipal elections to even years then support it as an option for municipalities they may not desire even year elections.
  • Support legislation that would retain municipal control over the development process and local rights of way for small cell wireless infrastructure.
  • Support the state’s existing Jordan Lake rules.
  • Support preserving Cary’s ability to continue using 100’ stream buffers and to implement and enforce its current riparian buffer ordinance, which applies to riparian buffers in both the Neuse River and Jordan Lake-Cape Fear River Basins.
  • Seek a local bill to authorize Apex police officers to continue to serve the students at Apex High while the school is temporarily located in the Town of Cary.

The legislative items will be presented to the Cary delegation later this month.

Council also approved 3 construction bids, asked staff to look into our Heritage Tree program, and asked staff to investigate information sessions to benefit realtors. The meeting concluded after about 2 hours 20 minutes.

Friday I had the joy of introducing the 10 finalist for the Davis Drive Middle School national geography bee contest. The National Geographic Bee is an annual geography contest sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The bee has been held every year since 1989 for students in the fourth through eighth grades. This was the 20th anniversary of Davis Drive’s first geography bee. After I introduced the contestants, Davis Drive’s first principal, Dr. Coley, was introduced as the emcee. He was also the principal at Cary High for many years. Although I was only able to watch one round of questions, I am grateful that Davis Drive included me in this milestone contest.

Starting on Saturday Cary was dealing with about half an inch of sleet and about an inch of snow. This combined with low temperatures, which remained below freezing for several days, made it very hazardous to drive. As usual, the Cary snow team was in high gear trying to clear the main roads on Saturday and Sunday.

Emails from staff this week included a response to a citizen about road maintenance. Here is an excerpt which I thought I would share:

“…the Town of Cary is a complex network of streets and roads that are maintained by various institutes.  Below you will find a link to an interactive map that illustrates which streets are maintained by the Town of Cary, NCDOT, & private entities. 

http://carync.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Embed/index.html?webmap=66a51252d79847a694dddcf009e3b59f&extent=-78.7918,35.7858,-78.7759,35.7937&home=true&zoom=true&scale=false&search=true&searchextent=true&legend=true&&show_panel=true&basemap_gallery=true&theme=light&logoimage=http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/ArcGIS+Helper+Files/TofC2.png&disable_scroll=false&logolink=http://townofcary.org

The Town of Cary is committed to doing what is necessary to efficiently maintain our infrastructure and works to be cost effective by rehabilitating and resurfacing our streets during the early stages of cracking and deterioration.  There are approximately 466 miles of town maintained roadway within the town’s limits that are surveyed each year. 

A private consultant is employed to perform the pavement condition survey work.  They conduct a visual survey of the streets maintained by the Town following the methodology and approach in the latest NCDOT Pavement Condition Survey (PCS) Manual as developed by the Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE).  The information gathered includes physical characteristics and pavement distress types. The information collected is used to calculate the Pavement Condition Rating (PCR) for each street segment.  Overall, the Town of Cary maintained street system is in “Good” condition with an overall weighted average PCR value of 82.7 out of 100, with a distribution of condition as shown in the figure below.

This data is then used to determine which Town of Cary maintained streets are eligible for resurfacing.  Also, we use this information to determine the best places to employee preventative maintenance techniques such as crack sealing, patching, and rejuvenator.  Rejuvenator is a penetrating sealer that simply replaces the vital ingredients that have been lost from the asphalt over time due to exposure to the suns UV rays and wet weather.  This application can extend the life expectancy of roads. Extending the life of the roadway helps reduce future costs and tax dollars needed for paving.

I hope that you have found this information regarding Town of Cary streets helpful.  In regards to any roads maintained by the NCDOT, I would suggest contacting the local district office at 919-733-3213.  Thank you again for helping make the Town of Cary a great place to live, work, and raise a family.…”

The town manager’s report for this week included the following:

Winter Weather Preparations

As reported at last night’s Council meeting, brining operations are complete and trucks are switched over to plows and spreaders in anticipation of the winter precipitation likely to begin this evening. In addition to the efforts at Public Works, other actions include:

  • Police will switch to AWD vehicles once the weather begins to materialize.
  • All standby generators at wastewater pump stations have been topped off with fuel and tested.
  • All Fire front-line and reserve apparatus are ready and equipped with chains should they become needed.

All parks, recreation and cultural arts programming after 5 p.m. tonight and continuing through the end of day Sunday are canceled; all facilities are closed through Sunday. The Three Kings Parade is rescheduled for Saturday, January 28. In addition, the Chinese Lantern Festival is closed and is expected to reopen Tuesday, January 10. GoCary will cease operations at 9 p.m. and end all door-to-door pick-ups at 7 p.m. All GoCary services are canceled for tomorrow. The Citizen’s Convenience Center will be closed tomorrow.

We will provide information to Council throughout the event. Stay safe and warm inside!

Duke Energy Grant for EV Charging Stations

Because of your action in December, last week staff received $10,000 from Duke Energy for the installation of one dual-port electric vehicle charging station at Bond Park. Installation is estimated for spring 2017. This charging station is in addition to our existing stations.

Monday at WakeMed Soccer Park

We’ve been given notice that North Carolina FC (formerly the RailHawks) will hold a news conference on Monday at WakeMed Soccer Park to announce the addition of a National Women’s Soccer League team. The team’s permanent home will be WakeMed Soccer Park.

Recognitions

Lots of great work, through the efforts of many, occurred this week. In particular, I’d like to recognize the team that worked on the Paid Parental staff report: Renee Poole, Laura Turk, Danielle Mahoney, Hunter Frank, Allison Hutchins and Carrie Roman.

Also, I’d like to recognize the Imagine Cary/Transportation team for their efforts leading up to and at the Work Session on Tuesday. This includes: Jerry Jensen, Juliet Andes, Jeff Ulma, Tyler Bray and Russ Overton.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • That I was biased for Muslims (I am biased for diversity)
  • A complaint about an unmaintained state road of Cary Town Boulevard
  • A complaint about state roads and concerts in downtown
  • A complaint about the Cary Community Plan’s draft designating Chapel Hill Road as ultimately being six lanes
  • A complaint about a proposal for townhomes on Trimble Drive

My schedule for next week will be surprisingly light which is extremely unusual for this time of year. I will use that free time preparing the State of Cary address. My only scheduled meetings are with the town manager and a tour of the CiVentiChem facility.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 15th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, January 01st, 2017

Happy New Year!

The time between Christmas and New Year was very slow for me and was spent mostly with family. As a result I only had one meeting this week.

Thursday I met with two gentlemen representing the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. I learned a great deal about their Islamic sect of true Islam.

Founded in 1889, their sect of Islam spans over 206 countries with membership exceeding tens of millions. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only Islamic organization to believe that the long-awaited Messiah has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian. Ahmad claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the leading Islamic organization to categorically reject terrorism in any form. Although they are a fast growing community the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is comparatively small in numbers to Shite and Sunni Muslims. And because of their beliefs about the Messiah and jihad they are disliked by other Muslims. Here are the 11 points of true Islam they believe:

  1. Reject all forms of Terrorism.
  2. Believe in non-violent Jihad of the self and pen
  3. Believe in equality, education, and empowerment of women
  4. Advocate for freedom of speech
  5. Advocate for the separation of the mosque and state
  6. Believe in loyalty to the country of residence
  7. Encompass the universal declaration of human rights
  8. Believe in all verses of the Quran and forbid lying
  9. Recognize that no religion can monopolize salvation
  10. Believe in the need for unified Muslim leadership
  11. Wholly reject the concept of a bloody Messiah

BTW, ISIS believes in none of the 11.

These leaders told me that they wanted to reach young people that are being influenced by radical Islamic terrorists (like ISIS) to let them know that those beliefs are not true Islam. They very much want to take a bigger role in helping people in our community. They believe that through education about true Islam would help. If you would like to join in one of their frequent coffees and discussions contact Asaf Mirza, who is the community outreach coordinator, at asaf.j.mirza@ahmadiyya.us or Mirza.asaf@gmail.com.

I thought their message was very important to share with others especially with all the hate towards Muslims today. Acts of terrorism by Muslim extremists around the world cause many people stereotype all Muslims as terrorists. And our nation also struggles with other stereotypes towards African Americans and policeman. I believe we can only reach our true potential as a community by understanding the values, experiences, and gifts that each of us have to offer. Let’s all work together to break the stereotypes by learning and respecting each other in this New Year. The meeting with the Muslim leaders concluded after about an hour.

Emails from staff this week included a statement about Rachael Dolezal who was originally schedule to be part of the Dreamfest celebration. The statement is as follows:

“The Town supports Jireh Management’s decision to remove Rachel Dolezal from its Diversity Summit portion of the Town of Cary’s annual Dreamfest celebration. While we were hopeful that her being part of a panel discussion of discrimination could be meaningful, we heard concerns from pastors and citizens that her presence would result in a negative notoriety that would overshadow all of the good Dreamfest is set to deliver – something no one wanted to see happen.  In Cary, we’re focused on delivering positive experiences for our community.”

Other emails from staff included updates on the future of Louis Stephens Drive. The current North Carolina State Transportation Improvement Project list, which is from 2016 to 2025, has the section of Louis Stephens Drive from Poplar Pike Lane in Morrisville to Little Drive in Research Triangle Park to include the following information:

  • Construct Roadway on New Location
  • Right of Way acquisition in 2020 at a cost of $179,000
  • Construction in 2021 at a cost of $2,577,000
  • By virtue of the Right of Way acquisition in the first 5 years, the project is committed and will not need to be rescored.

So in summary it looks like it is about five years away from being a reality.

Emails from citizens this week included the following:

  • A request to fund Twin Lakes greenway in the budget
  • A complaint that the Jewish festival did not occur (it is scheduled for March 19th to coincide with the Pesach holiday after the Jewish community wanted the community to better understand Jewish holidays)
  • A request to fund Carpenter Upchurch Road in the budget
  • A request for more parks and greenways to be funded by a tax increase
  • Requests to fund needs at Hemlock Bluffs
  • A request to stop destroying green space and create more parks (we don’t have authority to prevent someone from developing their land – thus the reason for less green space)
  • A request for more support to music in the budget

Next week will be busy for me and will include a work session on Imagine Cary’s transportation, a quasi-judicial hearing, a council meeting, and a visit to Davis Drive Middle School.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 8th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Monday, December 26th, 2016

This was the last week before the holiday week so things slowed down quite a bit but it was an important week none the less.

Monday the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal their ordinance which resulted in the legislature passing HB2 (the bathroom law). This was followed by an announcement that the legislature would call a special session on Wednesday to vote whether or not to repeal HB2.

Monday evening I attended the Mayors Association Dinner in Raleigh. Besides me, the delegation from Cary included the Mayor Pro-Tem, the town manager, town clerk, public information officer, finance director, staff liaison to the legislature and spouses. We all had a great time and spent time talking with other elected officials and mayors.

Tuesday started with an interview from WUNC about the potential repeal of HB2. I answered several questions and stated that I hoped the legislature would come together and do the right thing.

Tuesday afternoon I met with key staff members to brainstorm about an idea which we will go public with at the beginning of next year.

Tuesday night I had the honor and pleasure of making remarks at the Cary Police Department’s Promotion, Oath, and Pinning ceremony. I was asked to make comments about the retiring K-9 dog and the induction of a new K-9 dog. It should be noted that last year before NC legislator and former Cary Mayor Pro-Tem Gale Adcock pushed through legislation to allow service dogs to be sold to their owners, service dogs had to be treated as property and auctioned off. Because of that legislation I was proud to retire K-9 Robbie after 7 years of service to his handler for $1. Then we inducted into service K-9 Lemm who was from oversees. K-9 Lemm was paid for by a gracious gift from Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson. God Bless them! He was named after a fallen serviceman SGT Joseph Lemm. To find out more about SGT Lemm go to http://thefallen.militarytimes.com/air-force-technical-sgt-joseph-g-lemm/6568662.  Both K-9 Robbie and K-9 Lemm made appearances (but not at the same time). After the K-9 portion of the program several officers were promoted and several new officers were pinned. Chief Godwin pointed out that over a dozen officers retired this year. I am so very proud of all of our officers who put their lives on the line every day so that we may be safe. God bless them!

My last meeting Tuesday was with the Senior Marketing Director and General Manager of the new HMart store in Cary. This store has about everything in food for different ethnicities, backgrounds, and ages which makes it a perfect fit in Cary. It will be the first location in North Carolina for this Korean grocery chain. It is located near the Davis Drive and High House intersection in the old Lowes Food and opened Thursday. In my conversations the marketing director he made it clear that he is looking to expand in North Carolina and possibly Cary. They assured me that they wanted to be involved and good corporate citizens. I welcome them and wish them great success.

Wednesday I participated in a meeting of the Cary-Morrisville Joint Issues Committee. First we talked about the future of schools in western Wake County, specifically M-16 and E-50. The middle school, M-16, will be located on Winding Pine Trail and was recently approved in a quasi-judicial meeting of the Cary council. It will be on 41 acres with a building of over 210,000 square feet. It is currently under design and won’t be completed and ready for occupancy until August of 2019. It is budgeted to cost $62,558,253. The elementary school, E-50, will be located on Little Drive in Cary. It will be on 32 acres with a building of over 115,000 square feet. It is currently under design and won’t be completed and ready for occupancy until August of 2019. It is budgeted to cost $38,359,093.

Next we talked about the future widening of highway 54. Cary will be deciding if the section from near the intersection of Cary Parkway to the Maynard intersection will be ultimately six or four lanes. This will happen at a January 3rd work session. It is important to point out that there is no funding or plans for funding for this section of state road. That means any change is likely to be at least ten years away.

We also shared information about Morrisville Carpenter Road and Louis Stephens Road. Our meeting concluded after an hour. Our next meeting will be in the first quarter of 2017.

Wednesday night I heard the NC legislators left the special session without repealing HB2.

[Begin Editorial]

There aren’t enough words to express my deep disappointment in our legislative majority to perform a simple task. The deal was that Charlotte would repeal their ordinance and then the legislators would repeal HB2. Charlotte did their part and the legislative majority did not. Instead they tried to inject more politics into a problem that was created by politics. As a result this political posturing is crippling our economy costing us millions in lost revenue. This law not only has a direct economic impact to citizens of Cary, Charlotte, and other municipalities but an indirect economic impact to every citizen in North Carolina. In addition, this law does absolutely nothing to protect anyone from anything. If the legislators in the majority tell you otherwise they are lying. Why? Because the law they created is unenforceable unless there is someone stationed at every bathroom in North Carolina checking body parts. Instead of pointing fingers and blaming each other for all of their failures they need to think about the citizens they serve for a change. Shame, Shame, Shame for putting power grabs above the needs of the citizens they are sworn to serve.

[End Editorial]

Friday evening my family celebrated Hanukah with council member Bush’s family. While we are not Jewish we enjoyed celebrating with them.

The rest of the week was spent celebrating the Christmas holidays. My family always ushers the 9 PM church service on Christmas Eve. It was great seeing old friends that have come back to town to visit friends and relatives.

Emails this week  notified us that Cary was on SmartAsset’s list of the “Top 10 Boomtowns of 2016,” Cary scored a 100 percent based on several factors, including net migration rate, housing growth, unemployment, 2015-16 change in unemployment and GDP growth. Raleigh, ranked 10th, scored an 87.05.

The town manager’s report included the following for this week:

Imagine Cary Notes

Based on our collaborative work, I believe we have a clear path for moving the plan to adoption on January 24.

Post-holiday Preview

We will hit the ground running in the New Year, with a QJ meeting, work session and regular Council meeting all during the first week of January. Details on each of the meetings are below:

  • January 3 QJ meeting – one case will be discussed
  • January 3 work session – topic is the Imagine Cary transportation plan
  • January 5 regular meeting – the agenda for this meeting will be posted to the Town’s website next week.

Dreamfest / Diversity Summit Agenda

On Wednesday, Al Cohen gave us the final agenda for the Diversity Summit. The agenda is available; please note it does not include any participation by Rachel Dolezal.

UNC-TV Spotlights Cary’s Citizens Police Academy

Last week, UNC-TV aired a great piece on our Citizens Police Academy. This five-minute segment is the result of a multi-month effort where staff worked with a reporter and photographer to capture the great job our officers do when it comes to educating the public on their roles and responsibilities in keeping the community safe. It also highlights how our CPA program offers citizens a better understanding what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer.

Recognitions

Ginny Johnson was recognized this month by the North Carolina Association of Municipal Clerks. This spotlight is well-deserved as Ginny is an invaluable part of the team.

Next week will be very slow for me with only a couple of meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 1st.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, December 18th, 2016

This week was slower than last as things wind down for the year.

Monday I met with staff from the Transportation Department to go over transportation recommendations that are a part of Imagine Cary. After talking to all council members they will hold a work session on Tuesday, January 3rd to get direction from council about this section of Imagine Cary. My comments focused mostly on the Highway 54 section between Cary Parkway and Maynard and the extension of Cary Parkway from Harrison. We also talked about the pros and cons of 6 lane roads which are opposed by some council members. Our meeting lasted a little over an hour.

Tuesday I interviewed with 96.1 WBBB on the Doc and Laura morning show. They are interviewing mayors in the area and to find out what is going on in their communities. I spent a little time giving fun facts and telling about things going on in Cary in the month of December. Some fun facts I shared that you may or may not know include:

  • Cary is the seventh largest municipality in the state.
  • If Cary was in S.C. then it would be the largest municipality.
  • We are bigger than eighty two counties in North Carolina.
  • We are bigger than eighteen countries worldwide.
  • We have thirty percent more land incorporated than Paris, France.
  • Nineteen percent of our population was born in another country.
  • Three-fourths of our adult population has college degrees and one-third have advanced degrees.

I also talked about accolades we have received and the fun events coming up in December and January. Our interview lasted about ten minutes. I am not sure when it will air.

Wednesday I met with a representative from addiction family recovery support services. I was joined by the town manager as we brainstormed about ways to make people aware of a growing heroin addiction problem we have in Cary. I believe we need to become more proactive before the problem gets worse. Stay tuned for more on this later.

Later Wednesday I met with representatives for future investors from China. I taped a short video answering several questions about why Cary is a great place to live work and play. I even said “Cary Welcomes You” in Chinese. There have been several visits this past year from Chinese investors and we should expect more in the future. My taped segment will be a part of a promotional video. The taping lasted a little over half an hour.

Saturday I participated in the Wreaths Across America event at Hillcrest Cemetery in Cary. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:

“…Like many of our citizens, I have not served in our armed forces, either at home or abroad, and yet, I, along with so many in our community benefit each day from the sacrifices made my men and women, some of whom may be your family members or neighbors or friends, have made for us.  For that, please accept my heartfelt gratitude on behalf of all those who aren’t with us here today.

It was a proud moment for me to come across the national website for this wreath laying initiative and see our historic Hillcrest Cemetery listed right up there with Arlington National Cemetery. The Triangle is home to one of the largest groups of vets, right about at 8 percent of our area’s total population. Thank you for remembering them during this time of year, a time that evokes such strong emotions for so many of us. …”

There were several dozen people in attendance included veterans from all branches of service. After remarks from several of us we laid about 100 wreaths on graves of veterans whose final resting place is in Hillcrest. I was honored to be part of this ceremony.

Friday NC legislators held a special session which made several people angry including me.

[Begin editorial] – read at your own risk!

Friday the North Carolina Legislative majority, in their infinite wisdom, held a special session (like last year) to do something stupid which will once again result in taxpayer spending over a million dollars in Court. They decided to virtually strip the governor-elect of all authority they could imagine/manage. What was their excuse? The others did it before in the 1960s. REALLY? What are they children? What a slap in the face to democracy which so many men and women have died to protect. I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of the divisive partisan politics (both sides) that has gripped our state and our country. The people that took an oath to serve the people have somehow interpreted their oath as one that is supposed to serve their political party. We will NEVER reach our true potential as a state and nation as long as we continue to put political parties above all else. If you want an example of how to do it right look at Cary which is governed by an apolitical body. Our partnership with our staff, the chamber, businesses, and especially our citizens has allowed us to become one of the most incredible places to live in America. We are the safest city in the nation. We have been awarded the best park system in the nation. Our award winning fire department has allowed businesses to get the lowest insurance rates possible. Our finance department has allowed us to have the highest rating of all the major bond rating agencies allowing us to have the lowest interest rate possible. Our water and sewer systems have been proactively built to serve us for decades and are so state-of-the art that others come to see what we have done. We are ranked as one of the best places to live in the nation. To summarize, we have the lowest tax rate in Wake County with the highest quality of life by far! How did this happen? By working together NOT against each other. Sure we disagree but we do it because we truly believe our actions would be the best for the people we represent. Our political parties have absolutely nothing to do with our decisions. My hope is that one day the people that represent North Carolina and the nation, whether it is Republican or Democrat, will realize that their acting like children and serving political interests does not help North Carolina. Imagine the potential North Carolina could realize if both parties worked together to solve problems. During this season of reflection I would invite each and every legislator to read the oath they took out loud and remind themselves they are servants not the ones being served. ‘Nuf said!

[End editorial]

 

Information from our planning department for November included the following:

  • The average single family dwelling was 3817 square feet compared to 4031 in 2012.
  • Cary had 11.6% of new single family permits in the county which was third behind Apex and Raleigh.
  • 9 development plans were approved including over 200 single family lots and over 82,000 square feet of commercial and office.

To see more go to http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/townmanagersoffice/Weekly_Report_Files.htm.

The report from the town manager this week included the following:

Imagine Cary – Commuter Travel Information

Below is a slide that several of you, Council, requested as a result of the Imagine Cary small group educational meetings over the past week. The information in the slide is related to the changing traffic/travel patterns in and around Cary. It shows that Cary and Raleigh are strongly linked when it comes to commuter traffic and employment. It also highlights Cary as a regional designation. (The slide shows 67,372 people coming to work in Cary every day while 64,108 leave Cary for work every day.)

“The Benefits Balancing Act”

The Town of Cary and Renee Poole are featured in a recent article published in American City & County. The article talks about the importance of competitive employee benefit packages in a time of a changing workforce.

NC State Bar President-elect

John Silverstein, who represents the Council and the Zoning Board of Adjustment in quasi-judicial hearings, has recently been sworn in as the President-elect of the North Carolina State Bar, the agency that regulates the over 27,000 licensed lawyers in this state.  The State Bar investigates and prosecutes lawyers who violate the State Bar’s code of ethics; resolves fee disputes between lawyers and clients; prevents the practice of law by people who are not licensed; and, in general, seeks to advance the administration of justice.  Mr. Silverstein is expected to be installed as the President of the State Bar next fall. 

Holiday Operations Schedule

Most staffed facilities will close over Christmas and New Years, however curbside collection schedules will not be impacted. Citizens can dispose of trees and other natural decorations with their regular yard waste collection.

Cary One of Safest Cities in NC

The Consumer Research Company, ValuePenguin, recently published a study concluding Cary is among the top five safest large cities in the state. This ranking is based on a variety of crime metrics sourced from the FBI across 115 NC cities and towns.

Recognitions

Officer David Cohen was recognized at the North Carolina’s Hometown Heroes Ceremony, hosted by the NC Auto Dealers Association. This was regarding his valiant effort earlier this year in saving the life of a young child following a near drowning incident.

Reid Kinlaw, Tennis Program Specialist, was awarded the USTA Jr. Team Tennis Local League Coordinator of the year by NC Tennis Association. The same association named the 2015 Cary Tennis Championship the Special Event of the Year.

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

 

Next week’s activities include the annual Mayors Association Dinner, a retirement and installation ceremony for our K-9 dogs Robbie and Lemm, a Cary-Morrisville joint issues task force meeting, and other meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 25th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.