• Sunday, April 26th, 2015

This was a busy week that included several long nights and a long council meeting.

Monday I called all council members to hear their questions and concerns about Tuesday’s regularly scheduled council meeting agenda. I was able to contact all council members except Robinson and there were very few questions. Later in the day I met with management, legal, public information, administration, and other directors to go over the agenda. The agenda had 5 presentations, 18 consent agenda items, 5 public hearings, and 15 discussion items. Items we discussed included the Walnut Street Corridor under the Land Development Ordinance Amendments, the two Wackena Road rezoning proposals, the Keller property waiver to Stephens Road, and Community Development Block Grant Funding. Our meeting concluded after about 30 minutes.

Monday night I attended the monthly meeting of the Mayors Association. All twelve mayors of Wake County were present. The mayors spent a great deal of time talking about current legislative proposals and how it would harm our municipalities. The mayors unanimously agreed to take action of several legislative items but decided to wait until after crossover.

Crossover is a deadline where members of each chamber of the General Assembly work to have pieces of legislation that they sponsored passed by their chamber and sent over to the other chamber. The crossover deadline is an important milestone in the General Assembly schedule, because, with a few exceptions, a bill that is not passed by one chamber before the crossover deadline is dead and cannot be considered during the remainder of the session.

Next we went around the table to hear about what was going on in each of the municipalities and if they were anticipating a tax increase. About half of the municipalities are anticipating a tax increase for this coming fiscal year. Our meeting concluded after about 2 ½ hours.

Tuesday I had a brief meeting with the culinary students from our sister city Le Touquet, France. These students are visiting for four to five weeks and are working in local restaurants. This gives them experience in American cuisine and the American lifestyle. My wife and I have hosted students from this group several times over the years and have many friends as a result of these experiences. This year we are once again hosting two students. The group has been chaperoned over the years by Annie Chatel who is retiring this year. However, she does plan to come back to Cary next year. This culinary student exchange with Wake Med is a great partnership and a great example of why it is important to have sister cities.

My next meeting on Tuesday was with the Boy Scout Troop from St. Michael’s Church. They were working on a citizenship merit badge. I explained what they could expect from the upcoming council meeting and then answered questions. Later in the council meeting I recognized them and thanked them for attending.

Tuesday night the council held their only regularly scheduled meeting for the month. The long agenda didn’t take as long as we expected. Here are some of the decisions made at the meeting: The council approved three annexations totaling about 65 acres. Incentives for CBC Americas, which was announced Wednesday, were approved. The council approved a new General Fund Balance Policy which will give us flexibility to use cash instead of addition debt in special cases. The untouchable balance will remain far above what is required and will not impact our standing with bond agencies. The Debt Management Policy was also changed so that our target of no greater than 15% is now policy rather than direction. The council also approved a rezoning on Wackena Road which has been controversial because of overcrowded schools and congested roads. This proposal had the lowest density possible and will make traffic improvements well beyond what is required. In addition, they agreed to delay development to allow some school construction to catch up. The proposal for Stephens Road for townhomes which was denied a few weeks ago was given a waiver to submit single family residential. They will now have to go through the rezoning process again. The Land Development Ordinance Amendments were approved with the exception of the transportation system requirements which council sent back to staff for additional review. The amendments included the Walnut Street Corridor which will now allow the trailer park to be redeveloped into townhomes. There were many more items discussed by council. To see all the items make sure to visit actions taken at http://www.townofcary.org/Town_Council/Agendas___Minutes/Town_Council/action/April_21__2015__Regular_Meeting.htm. Our meeting concluded after about three and a half hours.

Wednesday started with an announcement by the governor that CBC Americas Corporation will locate their US Headquarters in Cary. The move will create 67 new jobs in Wake County over the next five years. The company plans to invest at least $3.5 million. The Japan based company is part of a global network of import, export, trading, and distribution companies, strategically located throughout the world. CBC is comprised of Imaging Technology, Optics, Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals, Flooring, Plastics and Eco-Energy. The company specializes in security solutions, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, renewable energy technology and video surveillance products. The average salary for the Cary positions will average $85,962.

Wednesday I gave opening remarks at the Cary Chamber’s Elected Officials reception. In attendance were NC Senators, Wake County Commissioners, Wake County School Board members, Cary Council members, and several business leaders. Unfortunately, NC representatives were unable to attend because they were in session. After my comments I was able to talk with several commissioners and school board members about issues we face in Cary. It was nice to talk with some of them simultaneously and hear how they are working together and working on issues. One idea I talked with commissioners about was capital cost leveling. This is similar to what Cary did to pay for the wastewater treatment plant. That is, rather than have an 18% increase in rates in one year, Cary spread the increase over several years to pay for that $300 million capital project. The commissioners are thinking about doing something similar for schools. That would give schools an annual, predictable budget for capital projects (schools). I left the event after about 2 ½ hours.

On Thursday I was part of a presentation to the town by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). I received information that Cary jumped from a Class 3 rating to the top insurance rating of Class 1. As a result, roughly one in three Cary businesses can expect to see a lower insurance premium in the coming months. The change in rating will likely have little to no impact on residential insurance premiums. The rating will go into effect July 1. Cary is the first ISO Class 1 municipality in the Triangle. Nationally, fewer than 100 communities have earned a Class I rating out of nearly 49,000 agencies nationwide. Areas evaluated as part of the rating system include Fire emergency operations, planning, prevention, training and equipment; Water supply and distribution system; and Communications Center operations.

Thursday evening I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Smith and met with the town manager, deputy town manager, assistant town managers, and the budget staff to hear staff’s preliminary budget. The purpose of this type of meeting is to have staff go over their budget in detail and explain how this pertains to the direction we gave. In addition, council members provide feedback on additional information they would like to see when we start deliberating on the budget. The town manager will present his budget on May 5th and the council will have their first work session on the budget on May 19th. While it is too early to disclose any details of the budget I can say that it was a difficult budget process for the staff exacerbated by the North Carolina Legislature’s action eliminating a large amount of town revenue. Our meeting lasted about 2 hours.

Friday I participated in the Metro Mayors meeting to hear about legislative actions and how they will impact municipalities. While the assault on municipal revenues and authority continues, some of our local legislators are doing their best to protect our tax rate and our quality of life. I would like to thank to Representatives Adcock, Senator Stein, and Senator Barringer for fighting to keep Cary a great place to live, work, and play.

Saturday I heard the sad news of a devastating earthquake in Nepal. At the time of this journal entry over 2500 people had perished. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nepal. There are many people in our community and in neighboring communities, like Morrisville, who have family and friends in Nepal. Needless to say there were several vigils in the area Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday I attended the 1st Annual Music and Arts festival at the Booth Amphitheater. This was an event of musical talent and visual arts by high school students from high schools that have Cary students. This year it included Cary, Athens, Green Hope, Panther Creek, and Broughton. I gave welcoming remarks and later joined council member Bush in talking about arts in Cary.

In emails from staff this week the council was notified of US Postal Service (USPS) has determined that a request from the residents of Weycroft Reserve to have a Cary ZIP code instead of a Durham ZIP code was operationally feasible. The USPS is currently conducting a mail survey of the addresses in Weycroft and along Pittard Sears Road, according to their standard practices, to determine the level of support for the change. Since a majority of the residents being surveyed are in the Weycroft Reserve subdivision, the town expects the support to be strong, and the change to be made in the near future. If this goes forward any new development along Pittard Sears Road will also have Cary addresses.

Emails from citizens this week included a concern about a planned greenway through Cameron Pond, comments about the Academy Street improvements, and a complaint about an experience with town staff.

Next week’s activities include a council work session on Transportation Development Feeds, Land Development Ordinance Amendments, and Building Design Standards. Other activities include a join meeting with Cary and Morrisville, a visit to Atlas International School, Cary’s Night out with Police and Fire officers, and a 5K for charity.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 3rd. 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, April 20th, 2015

After a week in Augusta it was time to get back to work as mayor.

I was fortunate enough to start the week by having a photo opportunity with tennis legend and star Venus Williams. She and her sister have won several grand slam tennis tournaments and dozens of other tournaments. They will both be in the tennis hall of fame. In my brief conversation with her I welcomed her to Cary and talked about the excitement she generated. She mentioned that she had been to Cary before. I also talked to her about her last match which was a semi-final loss and her response was that there will be other opportunities. I thanked her for coming to Cary and wished her the best.

Later Monday I met with the town manager and deputy town manager. We talked about a personnel issue and other minor issues. Our meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

Tuesday I met with a representative from Regency Office Park. He had three main concerns: the paving of Regency Parkway, the crape myrtles along Regency Parkway, and the fence along Regency Parkway. Regency Parkway is a NCDOT maintained road and it is their responsibility to pave it. The town did contact NCDOT about the condition of the road but is still waiting on a response from them. The Crape Myrtles and the median along Regency Parkway are the responsibility of the Regency Park Homeowners Association. These trees became diseased and were a safety hazard so the town asked the association to remove them. They refused and the town had them removed. The stumps remain which is the responsibility of the association. The fence, which is disliked by the representative, is an aesthetic issue. With so many other significant needs and limited funding, we are not able to recommend funding in the budget to replace the fence at this time. My meeting with the representative concluded after just a few short minutes. I made no promises or guarantees since most of these issues fall outside of the town’s responsibility.

Thursday I talked with a developer interested in the Land Development Ordinance change which would allow redevelopment of the trailer park on Walnut Street. In his conversation with me he pointed out how the latest proposal would protect residents with larger buffers than the previous proposal from staff.

Friday I participated in the Metro Mayors legislative update. We reviewed about a dozen legislative bills that have been introduced. One bill would make local elections occur in even years and make them partisan. It seems the legislators can get enough of damaging local governments. And why they think making elections partisan would benefit Cary is beyond me. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Later Friday I talked with County Commissioner Holmes about the upcoming meeting between the Cary Council and the County Commissioners. We talked about items of interest to Cary (mainly schools) and the prioritizations of the commissioners. Commissioner Holmes pointed out that it was early in the budget cycle so the commissioners won’t be able to provide a lot of information. She also said that there will be significant choices; some of which may involve significant tax increases. I conversation lasted about 15 minutes.

Saturday I participated in the Caring Community Foundation Bed Race for cancer. Since its inception this organization has raised over a million dollars to fight cancer. There were fourteen beds in the race in this second year. All were fantastic and the race heats were supported by dozens of people along Academy Street. In addition, members of the Cary High School Band provided drum rolls and trumpet charges. It was a great time and money was raised for a good cause. Please find it in your hearts to support Caring Community Foundation in its mission. Every little bit helps.

Later Saturday I gave welcoming remarks at the Children’s Day festival. This event was put on by the American Turkish Association of North Carolina and Cary’s Sister Cities organization. There were performances, crafts, entertainment of all kinds involving children. It was a great time and the children were absolutely adorable.

Sunday I gave remarks at the Heritage India Association of North Carolina’s festival. There was a lot of great performances that I was blessed to observe. Here is an excerpt from my comments:

“…We know it takes a village to raise a child. And today’s event is a great example of this. As citizens, we appreciate Heritage India Association’s community outreach efforts. This area is blessed to have one of the highest qualities of life, and much of that is due to the volunteer support of our community organizations.

As these kids explore Indian Heritage, know that what you are doing for them today is shaping all of our futures. Dancing, fashion shows, and art competitions are on the agenda, and while they’ll be fun and exciting, these activities will also help in building leadership skills, boosting self-confidence, and encouraging socialization. All skills that our leaders of tomorrow need, and all skills that these children will build upon today. …”

I was at this event for a little over an hour.

Emails from staff this week included an explanation of a maple tree removal at the intersection of Dry Avenue and South Academy. The tree was cabled a few years ago to defray some stress but it finally failed and was in critical condition. Town staff indicated that this tree had already been identified for removal during the downtown park construction. However staff felt the tree had reached a state where it needed to come down prior to the construction. Therefore Town staff had an independent certified arborist confirm the degraded condition of the tree and it was removed.

Emails from citizens this week include comments about the Morrisville – Carpenter Upchurch intersection, a complaint about cigarette smoke coming through apartment walls, a complaint about a neighbor using something to make dogs bark, comments about the new downtown library, comments about a business site plan, and comments about the Cary Innovation Center.

Next week will be a busy week for me and will include a LONG council meeting, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, a reception for elected officials, a budget preview meeting, and Cary’s first Arts and Music festival.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 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.

• Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

This journal entry will be different from past journal entries. It will have very little to do with Cary so it may not be of interest to some readers.

I spent the last week volunteering for the Masters Golf tournament. It has been an honor and a privilege to volunteer since1978. This journal entry is about my week in Augusta and some of my observations of the people and the place.

The Economy:
Augusta has three main economic drivers, the Medical College (part of Georgia Regents University), Fort Gordon (the new home of cyber security), and the Augusta National (home of the Masters Golf tournament). The Augusta National, with their buying and redevelopment of properties around the club, seem to have the biggest impact from year to year. Most of the remaining businesses in Augusta seem to be industrial or support businesses. Needless to say the recession hurt them a great deal and if it wasn’t for these three economic drivers Augusta would be in bad shape. That is why I believe it is extremely important to be economically diverse like Cary.

The People:
The people in Augusta are very different from Cary residents in many ways. Augusta is not a diverse city and is 95% African American or Caucasian. Most Augusta residents were born and raised there whereas 95% of Cary residents were born somewhere else. Race continues to be a factor in the news and in elections. On one of my daily runs I saw a rebel flag flying in a front yard. Needless to say that would draw a LOT of negative attention here. Political signs were all Republican candidates. I imagine that Democrats don’t even bother trying. One of the things I liked about Augusta residents is that they are friendly. If you come across someone in a walk, run, or whatever, they always smile and say hello. In fact, cars driving by will wave. Sadly, that is not the case sometime in Cary (So if you see me running don’t forget to wave and say hello). Don’t get me wrong. I believe Cary is made up of great people too; we just need to show it more.

The event and course:
There is absolutely no event of any kind in the world that can measure up to the Masters Golf tournament. Period! They have every aspect of the event down to a science. And they work every year on making it a better experience for the golfer and for the patrons. In case you don’t know, the course was formally a nursery and each hole is named after a tree or plant. Every year during the first week of April the course is immaculate with flowers and trees blooming everywhere. Even if you don’t care for golf it is a must see just for the beauty. Excluding the grounds, the golf course is also incredible. I heard a guy in front of me say “the stuff we are walking on is better than what we put on.” And he is exactly right. It is that manicured.

My involvement:
I was lucky to be invited to volunteer when I lived in Augusta in 1978. I work as a scorer on hole 17 on the big scoreboard in the middle of the course. This year it was 90 degrees on Thursday and Friday which made it tough since we are enclosed by metal walls. But I know people would have given there left arm to be in my position so I was not complaining. From my vantage point I clearly see the 17th and 7th greens. I can see most of hole 2, all of 3, most of 8, and some of 13. So I was literally right in the middle of everything. It is a great view. I intend to continue until they stop inviting me or make me retire (which could be in the next few years). It is what the beginning of spring is all about for me. To put it simply, I love it!

The tournament:
For the first time in my 37 years I predicted the winner. I was confident in picking Speith after watching him in the last few tournaments earlier this year. He did not disappoint and was dominating the course on Thursday (I haven’t seen that since Tiger’s first win). In fact, he should have broken the tournament course record on Thursday except that he missed a couple of easy putts. He was just as impressive Friday and looked as though he would run away from all competitors. Saturday Speith had a six stroke lead when he came to my hole on 17. Then he double bogied and the tournament became interesting. Sunday he played like a true champion. He had his ups and downs but kept it together through it all. He won in style and he is only 21 years old. Amazing! I suspect he will have a collection of green jackets before it is over. Other golfers generated a lot of interest during the tournament. Tiger is back but is struggling off the tee. If he figures out his tee shot he could once again be a force on the PGA. He had his usual following but didn’t have the masses of people that he once had. Mickelson, who is on again off again, had a good tournament and was also a crowd favorite. Bubba Watson, who also has a good following didn’t really do much this year which was disappointing. Ben Crenshaw played is last round ever in Augusta on Friday. It was sad to watch that great champion struggle. It brought tears to my eyes to see him walk up 18. I remember very clearly the last time he won. It is hard to believe that much time has passed. All in all it was fantastic seeing all of the world’s best on the best golf course in the world. I am truly blessed.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 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, April 05th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a holiday week for some but not for me. But the holiday did make for a light week.

Monday I met with the town manager and deputy town manager to discuss a variety of current issues including the golf course noise ordinance exception, the council/staff working retreat debriefing, and the upcoming budget.

Later Monday I met with a representative of the Cary College Foundation who is trying to start a four year college in Cary. Some interesting points presented included:
• Cary is the only municipality of the largest seven without a college or university.
• There are twenty municipalities of less than 18,000 residents with colleges.
• Cary is in an ideal location and has opportunity for redevelopment.
• Projections from the Department of Education show a 15% increase in North Carolina high school graduates and a 13% increase in degree-granting institutions.
• The Cary College Foundation wants to create a four year, regionally accredited, non-profit, residential college for approximately 1500 students.
• The college will have a blend of liberal arts combined with experiential and immersive experiences.
• The college is looking for a deep network of partnerships that have co-ops, internships, research, service learning, and public sphere pedagogy.
• The goal is to have a liberal arts core combined with focused professional development that integrates the college with the Town, businesses and non-profits.
• Why Cary? The town has a history with education – first public high school in North Carolina.
• Cary also has a unique network of businesses, entrepreneurs, non-profits, and government offices to partner with a college committed to preparing its citizen-scholars.
• A college in Cary would create hundreds of new, long-term jobs; support existing businesses and the community; attract new businesses; and offer cultural and athletic events available to the public.
• The economic impact of a Cary College, roughly the anticipated size of Meredith College, would contribute $431.8 million to the local economy.
Our meeting concluded after about half an hour. We agreed to talk again in the future.

Tuesday I gave about a thirty minutes talk with questions and answers to a group of about two dozen business people in the Cary Leadership class. My remarks included the council and its authority, my specific duties, the excellence of the Cary town staff, the great partnership with the Cary Chamber, jobs, the economy, town accolades, and downtown. I answered questions which included the development process, the legislature, diversity, and greenways.

Saturday I had to the honor of opening the downtown farmers market. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:

“…Just a few days ago, we marked the start of Fit Cary Month. It’s an initiative we’ve celebrated annually since 2007 when Cary was first designated a North Carolina Fit Community. Throughout the month of April, we put our focus on the hundreds of free or low-cost fitness and wellness opportunities available to our citizens.

With 30 public parks and natural areas, a 70-plus mile greenway system, and 15 special use facilities, it’s easy to have an active lifestyle in Cary. But an active lifestyle must have the support of a wholesome, healthy diet. In Cary we can afford citizens the opportunity to go farm to fork thanks to the Downtown Cary Farmers Market.

As simple as that sounds, I know it takes very special green thumbs to grow the kinds of produce everyone sells here. It’s more than a talent; it’s a blessing. And each of you here is a blessing to Cary. And for us health nuts, we’re pretty lucky to have Cary to call home.

But I know it takes more than luck to yield a successful harvest. With that said, I want to end with an Irish blessing for our dozens of vendors:

May the rains sweep gentle across your fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed you have planted bear fruit,
And late summer find you standing in fields of plenty.

Thank you all for supporting healthy eating. With your help, we’ll keep Cary a place to Get Fit, Be Fit and Stay Fit. Without further delay, I hereby declare the Cary Farmers’ Market open for the season and wish you all a bountiful 2015!”

Emails this week included a building update from the Homebuilders Association. The report included:
• Wake County single family permits were down 7% during the past 12 months.
• Cary single family permits were down 13% during the past 12 months.
• Cary and Morrisville had the largest declines for the month.
The information provided included all Wake County municipalities, Wake County, and Angier.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about people running businesses out of their homes, a complaint about the Mayton Inn’s height, a request to fund the redesign of Carpenter Upchurch and Morrisville Parkway intersection, a request to oppose fracking (we do and have been), a request to change DOT’s schedule to repave Carpenter Upchurch Road, a concern about the proposed Lake Drive Extension, a concern about the traffic flow at the Cary dump, and a request for more tiny homes in Cary.

Next week will be my annual trip to Augusta, Georgia to work at the Masters Golf Tournament. This will be my 37th year. If you plan to be there and are on hole 17 drop by and say hello. As a result of my trip I only have my one-on-one meeting with the town manager scheduled for Monday on my calendar.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 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.

• Monday, March 30th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week consisted of a work session, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and several other meetings.

Monday I called all council members to find out their concerns or questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting agenda. While I was able to talk with all council members briefly, only about three of them had read the agenda at the time of my call. Concerns and questions were on the Cary Towne Center rezoning request, Land Development amendments, and a waiting period waiver for the Canterbury Downs rezoning proposal.

Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda. Our meeting lasted about 15 minutes. I predicted that Thursday’s meeting would last until about 8:30 or 9:00.

After the agenda meeting I met with the town manager and the deputy town manager. Topics included location and appearance of Google Fiber huts, the golf course noise ordinance, SAS Championship parking, private retention ponds, and the upcoming budget. Our meeting lasted about twenty minutes.

Tuesday council held a work session that lasted three hours. The first two hours were spent on providing recommendations for Phase 2 of the Imagine Cary process and the last hour was spent debriefing on the January 2015 council-staff working retreat.

Imagine Cary policy recommendations for “How will we get around?” include:
• Evaluate the Town’s transportation network to ensure the safety of all roadway users, regardless of age or ability including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists.
• Apply “complete street” design guidelines for the cross-sections and intersections of all streets, collectors, and thoroughfares based on system demand and each street’s land use context.
• Incorporate transportation improvements along corridors in a context-sensitive way, balancing community character and aesthetics with transportation and mobility needs.
• Focus transportation investments on bridging connectivity gaps between employment centers, neighborhoods, and mixed-use activity centers. Improve connectivity within and between these destinations by providing opportunities for all modes of transportation: driving, walking, biking, and taking transit. This also includes improving opportunities for connectivity via greenways and trails.
• Major roads that are being developed or widened to add additional lanes should be limited to four-lanes with landscaped medians, wherever possible. Any expansions beyond this standard should be focused in areas with the highest levels of congestion and critical bottlenecks.
• Improve pedestrian and bicycle crossings in activity centers, across major roads, and where greenways cross roads to build connected bicycle and pedestrian networks that are comfortable for all ages and abilities.
• Target transit investments to support and sustain mobility choice and improve the C-Tran bus system through increased frequency to major destinations, expanded service to new locations, reliability improvements to reduce travel time, and efficient interconnections with other transit systems throughout the region.
• Ensure a well-maintained transportation system by emphasizing the need to provide adequate funding for system maintenance needs.
Imagine Cary policy recommendations for “How will southwestern Cary grow?” include:
• Ensure that Southwestern Cary is characterized by the transition, east to west, from more intense suburban development patterns around the Triangle Expressway (I-540) to lower densities at the rural edge in Chatham County.
• Organize the pattern of new development around important natural and historic features, landscaped corridors, open spaces and community gathering spaces.
• Require standard street improvements (curb and gutter, sidewalks, street lighting, etc.) along roadways in Southwestern Cary.
• Support development of a signature mixed use activity center at Green Level West Road and the Triangle Expressway (I-540) that incorporates special features which acknowledge its location at a major interchange in an environmentally sensitive area.
Imagine Cary policy recommendations for “How will downtown thrive?” include:
• Foster the unique and authentic character of Downtown Cary that is reflective of the Town’s long history and evolution over time. New development will both highlight and complement the character of established downtown areas. For existing buildings that reinforce the historic character, there should generally be an emphasis on retention and adaptive re-use rather than redevelopment.
• Encourage all areas within downtown to share, reinforce, and capitalize on a common downtown identity. Each of the geographically distinct parts of downtown, including downtown’s surrounding neighborhoods, should be designed and developed to foster a more tightly integrated physical fabric.
• Focus transportation investments within the Maynard Loop to support the vision of downtown as a multi-activity destination. Improvements should focus on creating a safe and accessible environment for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders. Necessary parking and related infrastructure should also be provided.
Imagine Cary will now move into Phase 3 which should flesh out these policies.

The debriefing of our working retreat was the second. Staff noted direction given by the council from the retreat that included:
• Maintain the Cary “look and feel” which includes classic and traditional.
• Design is important and is being addressed through council’s review of guidelines.
• Downtown continues to be a priority.
• Eastern Cary is defined with a northern border of Chatham Street, a western border of Maynard Road, an eastern border of I40, and a southern border of the mall.
• Eastern Cary is important for economic development opportunities.
• Eastern Cary should be a connection to downtown.
Much of what was discussed at the retreat will be incorporated in economic development and Imagine Cary.

Wednesday I joined council member Yerha in taping the April episode of Cary Matters. The main topic for the episode is our traffic management system. If you would like to find out about traffic signal synchronization and emergency vehicle signal preemption, you might want to give it a viewing. The taping of the April episode lasted about 30 minutes.

Later Wednesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Smith, council member Bush and Yerha to welcome the 12th class of Cary’s School of Government. In the class the students learn how municipal government functions, what services are provided, and how citizens can become involved. Students will get a behind-the-scenes look at Town government structure, culture and decision-making.

Thursday was the longest council meeting of the year so far with the meeting lasting about 5 hours. Most of the time was with speakers talking about various issues such as the connectivity on Fordland Drive, the mall rezoning to allow three stories, and a land development amendment on connectivity. The council also spent a lot of time discussing issues. The council denied a one year waiting period waiver for the Canterbury Downs proposal and passed a resolution to the legislature supporting the Historic Tax credits. While I wholeheartedly support Historic Tax credits I voted against the resolution. For the most part I believe most resolutions are a means to make those doing the resolutions feel good about what they believe and really don’t have much of a positive impact. As a result I view them as non-productive. In this particular case I don’t believe a resolution will do anything to help get Historic Tax credits and it might even be viewed negatively. With the current legislature, who in Jack Smith’s words are “ruling instead of governing”, anything can happen.
Emails from staff this week included an update on bids for the Academy Streetscape. Apparently because the town’s bid dates coincided with a lot of other work, our original bids request received a limited response. We re-opened bids for Academy Streetscape and had two bids. A staff report for the bid award will soon be coming to council for a decision. Once council accepts a bid the streetscape the project will move forward. Based on the feedback the town has received the bid opening for the downtown park should have several bidders.

Emails from citizens this week included complaints from folks living on Fordland Drive, a question about a rumored budget hotel on Harrison Avenue, a concern about the noise ordinance for golf courses, and several comments about a proposed height rezoning at the Cary Towne mall.

Next week should be a light week for me. It consists of a few meetings and a talk for the Cary Leadership class.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 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, March 22nd, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was a week filled mostly with meetings.

Monday began with a short one-on-one meeting with the town manager. There were no new items to discuss. Instead we talked about items I have mentioned in previous postings.

Monday night I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. All twelve mayors were in attendance. Our guest speakers were Wake County manager Jim Hartmann, a staff assistant to the manager, and David King of Triangle Transit. The county manager’s presentation was on transit choices and the existing advisory committee who are exploring all transit options. He talked about projected population densities, poverty maps, congestion maps, average bus ridership, and other pertinent information related to transit. He pointed out that the biggest decision will be whether or not to have higher ridership or higher coverage and the impact that will have on capital funding. The next advisory committee meets in April with a final recommendation scheduled for September. To find out more go to http://WakeTransit.com.

Our next presentation was from Triangle Transit’s CEO and general manager David King. Triangle Transit is governed by a 13 member Board of Trustees whose vice chair is Cary council member Robinson. Currently Triangle Transit is adding express bus routes to help with congestion due to the “Fortify” project. One of those express bus routes is from Cary’s town hall to downtown Raleigh. In addition, Triangle Transit has added the Bus on the Shoulder program as another transit option. King talked about the triangle region doubling in size within the next 20 years and how the bus systems needed to be more coordinated. As a result the Go Triangle regional bus system was created which will coordinate all the bus systems. This will be implemented over the next two years.

Once the presentations were done the mayors went through their regular agenda. One of the discussion items was about creating a citizen committee to discuss the proposed change in voter registration in Wake County. The rest of the time was spent talking about legislative action and how it does or does not impact various municipalities in Wake County. While specific statements in a Mayors Association stay within the room I can tell you that several are concerned that standing up to the legislature could invite retribution. Our meeting concluded after about 3 hours.

Tuesday I met with developers interested in a large project in downtown. This proposal is in the infancy stage and they were just wondering what I thought of their ideas. Of course there would probably be town funded improvements needed for something this large so there would be much future discussion if this does actually come forward. But it encouraging that developers continue to show interest in downtown.

Later Tuesday I had the pleasure of touring PDQ at Davis Drive and High House with the operating director and marketing director. All of their food is fresh and made to order. Their menu consists mainly of chickens and salads and was delicious. One interesting note is that they don’t advertise on TV or radio. Instead they would rather help market themselves through fund raising events in the community. They are looking for opportunities to help with fundraisers. So if you have a fundraiser coming up you might want to give them a call.

Wednesday I attended the executive board meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. It was my first meeting as vice-chairman. There was not a lot on the agenda and very little that impacted Cary. One interesting note from the Fortify presentation was that NCDOT was recycling hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete. That was good news to hear.

Thursday I chaired a meeting of the Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory Committee. Our meeting was very brief and included approval of the 2015 Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities Interlocal Agreement. This is our new $300 million wastewater facility in New Hill. Our only other action was to approve the fiscal year 2015 operating budget for the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities and capital budget updates for the facility.

Later Thursday I met with general managers from Prestonwood and MacGregor Downs to talk about the proposed changes to the town’s noise ordinance as it relates to golf courses. We had a great conversation and they pointed out several facts related to golf course noise that most people probably don’t realize. It is my hope that these stakeholders are able to provide information to all council members before we make a decision on this topic.

Friday I participated in the Metro Mayors weekly legislative update. The ongoing war between urban and rural representatives continued in the legislature this week. Legislative action this week included an attempt in the committee to compromise on a bill to eliminate citizens’ protest petition on developments. These protest petitions require a super majority to approve so removing them only makes it easier for developers. The voiced vote clearly sided with the compromise amendment but the chair denied the amendment saying the vote failed. So it looks like the developers will soon have free reign without obstacles from citizens. Can you say “Publix in North Raleigh”? This is just another example of the daily partisan politics in the legislature. Other shenanigans included the sales tax redistribution which is aimed at punishing the big three counties including Wake. Legislatures have actually said they wanted to punish the three richest counties. It is a shame that we are seeing more elected officials act like children than representatives of the citizens. Hopefully, that will change one day. A great Abraham Lincoln quote “You can’t make the weak stronger by making the strong weaker” and part of the state’s official toast “…Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great…” kinda sums up my views and wishes. Too bad the majority of the legislature thinks otherwise.

Saturday I joined council member Yerha in celebrating Arbor Day at the Ivey-Ellington House (home of Cary’s farmers market) in downtown. I was presented an award, on behalf of the town, from the NC Forest Service recognizing Cary as a Tree City USA. This is the 32nd year we have received this award. Only about a dozen communities can boast that. In my remarks I talked about the Tree City USA award and the town’s beautification and litter reduction program called SPRUCE. The next litter sweep is scheduled for April 11th. I hope everyone will participate. To find out more about SPRUCE and how to participate go to http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/publicworks/Environmental_Outreach_Programs/Environmental_Volunteering/Spruce.htm.

Emails from staff this week included an update on downtown construction and events. The Academy Streetscape and Downtown Park Projects will be kicking off late spring.
As a result Lazy Daze and other large street festivals (Wheels on Academy, Ritmo Latino, Eid Festival, etc) will be relocated to North Academy Street around Town Hall Campus. Chatham Street ChowDown (Food Truck Rodeo) will return with 3 event dates (April 19, July 26 and Oct 4). This event will be located on Chatham Street between Academy and Harrison and is held on a Sunday due to the availability of the food trucks. Given the strong attendance last year most of the merchants will hold special hours to be open during this event. The April and October date will be Noon to 4:30pm and the July event will be in the evening from 5:00pm to 9:30pm. The Downtown Performers series and 7 o’clock rock series will be postponed for this year. Information to the general public about all of these changes will begin within the week.

Emails from citizens this week included comments about Fordland Drive connection with the new Pritchett subdivision, questions about the Morrisville Parkway – Carpenter Upchurch intersection, questions about Google Fiber, and several requests for meetings and events.

Next week will be a busy week with a regularly scheduled council meeting and a work session. In addition there will be a Cary Matters taping and a School of Government kickoff event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 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.

• Monday, March 16th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was a typical week with a council meeting and a few meetings and events.

Monday I attempted to contact all council members to understand their concerns and questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting agenda. I was able to contact all council members but Frantz and Robinson. Most of the questions I received were about the proposed noise ordinance change for golf courses. Later in the day I met with management, legal, public information, and other managers to step through the agenda. After hearing that the Dellinger property at Crossroads asked to be tabled the believed our meeting on Thursday would end around 8:30.

Later Monday I met with the town manager and deputy town manager for our weekly one on one meeting. There were no pressing issues and our discussion briefly touched on Google fiber, a personnel matter, whether or not to have an additional debriefing of the retreat, and the town’s downtown park site. Our meeting lasted about 30 minutes.

Tuesday I was scheduled to have a quarterly meeting with the town attorney. Earlier in the day she stated that she didn’t really have much to discuss so we decided to cancel our meeting.

Wednesday I met with a group that is interested in creating a homeless mission in Cary for the non-chronic homeless. In the meeting they pointed out that municipalities usually start needing a homeless facility once 10% of their population is below the poverty rate. Currently Cary has 6% of its population at or below the poverty rate. Their target population is single women and women with children. Those people will have to commit to a 6 to 12 month residential program to increase their self-sufficiency and prepare for transitional or permanent housing and they must be drug and alcohol free. The group was made up of 12 organizations including 10 churches and they are proposing a site in an unused building of a church. Their next steps include working with staff to make sure current zoning allows for building modifications.

On Thursday the council held the first of two regularly scheduled council meeting for March. There were 5 public hearings and 9 discussion items. Only one person spoke at the public hearings. Two of our discussion items were tabled: the Dellinger PDD for townhomes in Crossroads and the golf course noise ordinance. Council approved senior housing on Indian Wells Road and medium density housing at Turner Creek Road and Highway 55. I voted against the Turner Creek Road project because of the 5 foot side yard setbacks and the 5000 square foot lots but it was approved by the majority of the council. The council also approved the funding of additional staff to help with departmental issues related to Google fiber. Our meeting ended shortly after 8 PM.

Friday I was part of the weekly Metro Mayors legislative update. A good portion of the time was spent talking about two areas of the state where the legislature was changing the voting districts for representatives of councils and commissions. Of course one of those was Wake County. If that proposal goes through, which is likely, then there is a potential that Cary, which is the 2nd largest municipality in the county, would have no representation. It is very disappointing to me that our legislature is spending more time playing politics with local governments rather than focusing on critical issues related to the state such as the budget, transportation, and the environment.

Saturday I was a guest reader at Farmington Woods Elementary Saturday school tutoring program. I met with three classes from third through fifth grade. I read each of them a book, talked about the importance of reading and math in my job as mayor, and answered questions. What a great program for those kids that need the extra help. I was honored to be a guest reader and hope to be invited back.

Sunday morning I gave welcoming remarks at the Tobacco Road Marathon which started and ended at Thomas Brooks Park. It took six minutes and forty seconds for the over four thousand runners from all over the world to cross the starting line. I would have loved to have joined them but my knees won’t allow it. However, I did do fifteen miles on the elliptical with maximum height and length settings which took me about an hour and forty minutes. I figured that would have almost been an equivalent of me running a half marathon.

Sunday evening I had the joy and pleasure of attending the Basant Bahar celebration held at the Cary Arts Center. There were over one hundred talented performers participating in this event put on by Hum Sub. This was the second biggest Hum Sub event of the year. The biggest event will be Diwali in October.

Emails from citizens this week included comments about housing density in Cary, a concern about run down houses in Cary, a complaint about barking dogs, concerns about connectivity to Fordland Drive, and a question about the Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch intersection.

Next week my calendar includes a meeting of the Mayors Association, a meeting of the executive board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a meeting about the golf course noise ordinance, an Arbor Day event, and several other meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 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, March 08th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was a busy week as the town council and staff began holding some of the postponed meetings.

My first event of the week was on Monday at Kingswood Elementary where I participated in Read Across America Day. I visited a 5th grade class of STEM students and read a small book written by Jamie Lee Curtis. Afterwards I answered a couple dozen questions. Some of the easy questions included my favorite sport, color, subject in school, etc. Some of the more sophisticated questions included town recycling efforts and the town’s involvement in the building of the Mayton Inn. My entire visit was less than an hour. I had a wonderful time and hope to get invited back in the future.

Later in the day I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one meeting. Most of our time was spent talking about the upcoming placement of Google Huts around town. From my understanding these huts are necessary as a type of junction point for the fiber. The huts are roughly fourteen feet by twenty-two feet and have been made of precast concreted in other cities. They will be located on town property. Since these aren’t attractive structures, it will be our hope to get them appropriately screened.

Other items the town manager and I discussed included technology and the upcoming budget. The budget will once again be challenging this year with requests far outpacing our operational capacity. This is of course exacerbated by the NC legislature which continues to take revenues away from municipalities. In addition, Cary is scheduled to have a two cents increase in taxes this year as part of the 2012 Bond Referendum. If we are able to create a budget at that tax rate we will likely continue to have the lowest tax rate in the county.

Tuesday I met with lawyers, the town manager, deputy town clerk, and town finance people to sign bonds that were sold as part of the 2012 bond referendum. These bonds were purchased mostly my large insurance companies who spent millions.

Tuesday night the council held the first of two work sessions planned for the Imagine Cary’s second phase to provide direction in six major plan areas. Before we began the work session we council went into closed session to talk about economic development and a law suit. The remaining hour and fifteen minutes was on Imagine Cary. At this work session we focused on three of the four general policy topics.
Council provided feedback and agreed to the following general policies under the “Where would we live” topic:
• Recognize and preserve the quality and character of existing residential neighborhoods as they mature and change over time.
• Provide opportunities for a greater variety of housing types within new residential neighborhoods.
• Provide the greatest variety of housing opportunities, housing types, and densities within mixed use activity and employment centers.
• Support new residential development on infill and redevelopment sites that is designed to acknowledge the context of its surroundings.
• Maintain Cary’s existing supply of affordable housing, and encourage the development of new affordable housing units in suitable areas throughout Town that are proximate to services, transit, and employment.
Council also provided feedback and agreed to the following policies under the “Where will we work” topic:
• Reserve and provide sites for employment and economic development – especially for major industries or employers – within Cary’s existing traditional suburban office and industrial parks.
• Incorporate commercial and housing uses into selected suburban office/industrial parks, evolving them into mixed use employment centers.
• Reserve and provide sites for employment and economic development opportunities within a targeted set of new or existing mixed use activity centers.
The last topic of “Where will we shop and dine” had the policies that received feedback from council and were agreed on:
• Facilitate the redevelopment and revitalization of Cary’s aging or poorly-performing activity centers. Redevelopment of older centers is preferred over the development of new activity centers.
• Focus commercial, retail, dining, and entertainment uses within existing and planned Mixed Use Activity Centers.
• Support the development of a limited number of centers that have higher densities/intensities, are transit supportive, and have the greatest potential to be high-functioning, premier centers.
At our next Imagine Cary work session on March 24th will focus on the last general policy topic, the southwest area, and the downtown area.

Wednesday I talked with a group of high schools students who were part of the Cary Chamber’s Youth Leadership Program. They were spending the day learning about local government, touring various parts of town, and listening to various government speakers. I told them about my duties as mayor and then answered questions for about ten or fifteen minutes.

About an hour later I gave the State of the Town address to the Cary Newcomers Club 30th Anniversary meeting. There were over one hundred people, mostly ladies, in attendance. I talked from power point slides that were very similar to the ones I presented at the Cary Chamber in January. Then I answered about a couple of dozen questions. My presentation seemed to be well received. I do hope they invite me back in the future.

Thursday Cary was once again threatened with inclement weather. After consulting with staff we agreed that it would be a rain event and decided to proceed with four annexation public hearings and two quasi-judicial hearings. The four public hearings for annexations had no speakers. The first quasi-judicial hearing was for 70 homes in a subdivision along Indian Wells. The main purpose of the hearing was to allow a payment-in-lieu for construction of a portion of Highcroft Drive. Since there was no other part of that road to connect to the DOT decided not to permit them to cross a stream which they were required to do as part of the town ordinance. So the council agreed to allow this payment especially since they had no other choice. In addition, they wanted to use a retention wall as part of their edges for stormwater management which council also allowed. And their final issue was to remove one of seven champion trees on the property. Since it was a sweet gum tree, which is a lower tier tree, council agreed for the removal and replacement of this tree. Our second quasi-judicial hearing was tabled at their attorney’s request.

Friday I participated in the weekly Metro Mayors legislative update. About two dozen mayors and representatives from municipalities participated. Here are some of the bills introduced this week in the legislature that could impact Cary:
• Exempt from property tax the increase in value of real property held for sale by a builder to the extent the increase is attributable to subdivision or improvements by the builder. It also changes the definition of builder from a general contractor to a taxpayer.
• Boost the film grant program’s funding to $66m in recurring funds. The fund may be too high for independent filmmakers to participate.
• Increase the cap on turnpike projects from nine to eleven pending approval of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
• Allow 5% of voters in a city to petition to require a vote of the public on typically non-voted debt.
• Change the Wake County Commissioners from running at large to running in districts and increase the size of the Commission.
• Create a fund to provide loans to local government units for the development of sites and buildings.
• Phase out some of the transfers from the highway fund over five years starting in 2017-18 and finishing in 2021.
Additionally our briefing and discussion also included the following points:
• No bills have been introduced for tax reform.
• An economic incentives bill passed from the house to the senate. It includes a JDIG expansion, increases disbursement to the rural Utility Account, requires urban local government to participate with local incentives, increases requirements for urban job creation, allows the Utility Fund in rural areas to do job retention in addition to job creation, allows businesses to pay taxes only on sales within North Carolina, a jet fuel tax exemption, and a datacenter sales tax exemption on electricity.
Our meeting concluded after about an hour.

Saturday I gave welcoming remarks at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Train Hosts Association. These men and women are part of more than 100 volunteers from across the state serving as goodwill ambassadors on the Piedmont and Carolinian trains. Train hosts volunteer their time to ride the trains to assist passengers, promote passenger services and answer questions about the route, ground transportation and area attractions. Each one of these volunteers completed a one-day training session and committed to making at least one host trip every 60 days. What a great group.

Emails from staff this week included and update on bid awards for the Academy Street project and the downtown park project. The Academy Street project received only a couple of bids so the town is rebidding the project. The downtown park project did not receive bids. The schedule is being impacted by these delays. Staff will be looking at how bid delays will impact the overall schedules. In addition, with less competition the price has a tendency to go up. Bid prices have already increased significantly for other projects recently. Staff will continue to look for ways to lessen the impact on the schedule and keep the costs as low as possible.

Staff also provided an email with February’s construction activity report. Here are some of the notable points:
• In January single family permits were down 3.1% nationally, down 9.2% statewide, and down 4.9% in Cary from the previous month.
• 43 new Certificates of Occupancy were issued for single family homes in 20 neighborhoods last month.
• 7 new Certificates of Occupancy were issued for 199 multi-family units.
• Cary had 15% of the new single family permits in Wake County last month.
• 30.42 acres were annexed into Cary in the month of February.
• The average single family home was 4,281 square feet in February compared to 3,603 square feet in February of 2011.
Plans under review since the beginning of the year include:
• 4 modular classrooms at Mills Park Middle School.
• 27 townhomes in Waterford at Cary Park.
• 20,184 square feet of office and 2,876 square feet of retail on Chatham Street.
• A 9,600 square foot restaurant at Cary Town Center.
• 19 single family homes on Stephens Road.
• 32 single family homes on Indian Wells Road.
To see all the plans under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+(sorted+by+date).pdf.

Emails from citizens this week included kudos for help with a plumbing issue, a request for help with a school issue, and a request to honor an achievement of a student.

Next week we will try and get back to normal and hope that they weather will be nice. My activities include several meetings, a council meeting, being a guest reader at Farmington Woods, making remarks at the Tobacco Road Marathon, and attending the Basant Bahar at the Cary Arts Center.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 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, March 01st, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was once again dominated by snow and ice resulting in the cancellation or postponement of several of my activities. Once again the Cary A-Team (snow and ice removal team) did a fantastic job.

Monday started with calls to council members to get concerns or questions about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all council members but Frantz and Robinson. In my conversations council members had questions about the staff report for additional funding to handle the installation of Google fiber and questions about a staff report that was changed by the applicant to be age restricted. Later in the day Mayor Pro-Tem Smith and I met with management, directors, public information, legal, and administration to review the agenda. Our meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

After the agenda meeting Mayor Pro-Tem Smith and I met with the town manager and deputy town manager to talk about technology. That meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Monday night I joined all council members but Robinson at the annual Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources volunteer banquet. Each year the banquet has a theme. This year’s theme was the Wizard of Oz. In keeping with the theme I gave a welcome modeled after the Munchkin City Mayor from the movie. Though it was a little corny I believe it went over well. The remainder of my remarks were in a normal tone and included the following:

… “‘There’s no place like home.’ It’s one of the Top 100 movie quotations in American cinema, and it couldn’t be more applicable to tonight. Because of you—all 900 volunteers who have supported our parks, recreation and cultural arts programming— Cary has arguably the highest quality of life in Wake County. From facility volunteers, advocacy groups, advisory boards and committees, athletic coaches and event logistics, your support to make our recreation and cultural arts programs enjoyable and appealing is critical to our Town’s success.
A volunteer is a precious resource. The time you spend with staff to ensure our classes and programs go off without a hitch is priceless to those who experience these programs and events both first-hand and to our community as a whole. …”

Following dinner I was joined by the council members as we handed out awards. The banquet ended after about two hours.

Tuesday everyone in the region was surprised by a 3” snow event. Since the weather forecasters didn’t expect it very few were prepared. Cary’s snow removal team used equipment, salt and sand to clear the roads. By the end of the day most Cary roads were in great shape. However, to be on the safe side we postponed a work session on Imagine Cary to make sure anyone could attend if they desired. The work session was rescheduled for next Tuesday, March 3rd.

Wednesday I met with representatives from WakeUp. WakeUP is a nonpartisan citizen group concerned about growth and the future of Wake County. Their vision is a sustainable, healthy and prosperous region in the long run. In our meeting we talked about the Jordan Lake rules and future transit. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Wednesday night into Thursday was Cary’s second snow storm of the week. This storm had heavy wet snow that damaged a lot of trees. My neighborhood got about four inches which was enough to uproot several large Leyland Cypress and put them across the road. Cary’s A Team had the trees off the road and the road plowed by 2 PM. This was another example of a great job by the best snow removal crew in the state.

Thursday I consulted with staff and we agreed that the regularly scheduled council meeting should be postponed. We decided to move the public hearings back one week and move all discussion items to the March 12th meeting.

Friday was a scheduled call of the metro Mayors of North Carolina to discuss legislative action for the week. Since the legislators didn’t do anything because of the snow it was cancelled.

Friday a little past midnight I came down with the flu (kinda fit for the week). After a day of a high fever, sleeping and not eating I was much better but did have to cancel all appearances for the weekend. I will also cancel Monday’s just to be on the safe side.

Sunday the town experienced its third weather related event of the week with freezing rain. While it didn’t have as much impact as the other two storms it did create dangerous conditions on bridges and harm trees and plants.

Emails from staff this week included information about Cary’s A Team. Here is what was at work during Thursday’s storm:
• 15 town spreaders
• 13 town plows
• 4 contract tandem spreaders
• 11 contract tandem plows
• 21 contract pickups plows
• 2 contract loaders with 10 foot plows
• 1 contract grader (To work highway 55.)
In addition Public Works pre-position backhoes and personnel at Fire Stations 5, 6, and 8. Public Works had two emergency shifts. Personnel included 162 workers for Wednesday night into Thursday and 190 during the following day. Cary budgets for these events to have a very high standard for snow removal.

The town received numerous emails and letters thanking us and congratulating us on snow removal and garbage pickup. Many of the town’s employees went above and beyond the call of duty. Here is one letter I received that is a perfect example:

“Dear Mr. Mayor,

On Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 in the middle of our horrible cold spell, our garbage was picked up a day late because of weather. Our home faces north so we get no benefit of sun melting on our driveway.

I asked the driver (David) to use his ram to push our empty garbage container as far up our driveway as he could, to minimize our having to walk on the thick white ice.

David accommodated us, completed his street run, and then returned with a shovel to clear a path. My husband is disabled and I am in my 70’s and we wanted to express our gratitude.”

There is no doubt in my mind that we have the best public works department in the state. God bless them for their service!

Other emails from citizens this week included an inquiry about owning a domestic goat; comments about sharing recycle bins, a request to allow dogs on e-collars, and comments about upcoming rezoning cases.

Next week should be a busy week and a warmer week (I hope). My activities include Read Across America, a rescheduled work session on Imagine Cary, a State of the Town address presentation, a quasi-judicial hearing, and opening remarks at the annual meeting of the NC Train Host Association.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 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.

• Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was dominated by snow and ice resulting in the cancellation or postponement of most of my activities. The good news is that I had more time to spend with my wife. The bad news is that almost all of my meetings, activities, etc, were rescheduled which will make for much busier days in the future.

Monday’s postponements included a meeting with the town manager and a banquet for the Parks volunteers. In addition, a meeting of the Mayors Association was cancelled. Tuesday I had a scheduled dinner that was postponed. On Wednesday the monthly meeting of CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board) was cancelled. Friday the Metropolitan mayors’ weekly legislative update was cancelled.

The morning after all big snow/ice events I always go for a long walk (about 5 miles). This winter event was no exception. So I headed towards the Crossroads shopping center about 11 AM. On my walk I happened to see the town’s A team in action. By the time I saw them they had already been working for hours. By the afternoon they had finished all major roads in town and were working on secondary roads and in neighborhoods. By the end of the day they had completed their mission in a town that has over 660 miles of roads. I actually witnessed five plows completely clear the length of Piney Plains Road in less than fifteen minutes. Wow! What an impressive performance. A huge thank you to the town staff for the many hours of overtime to make sure Cary roads were the first cleared in the triangle!

The only meeting I held this week was with the town manager and deputy town manager via phone to discuss several issues. Among the issues discussed was the council’s potential participation in the design of the town’s skateboard park, proposed options for the noise ordinance as it relates to golf courses, and Google fiber.

Apparently Google is not happy with last week’s journal entry speculating that Morrisville and Cary might be the first places Google fiber is installed. My comments were based on staff information that included Google spending more time with Cary and Morrisville staffs than other municipalities. I apologize for my speculation and will only provide facts about Google in the future. I would recommend that Google’s public information start providing more information as soon as possible. That would eliminate all speculation. Just sayin’…

Friday I did join most of the Mayors in Wake County and their guests at a hockey game. The Wake County mayors were the guests of the Centennial Authority which hosts the mayors twice a year. It was a good time to talk with other mayors in an informal setting to find out what is happening in other parts of Wake County.

Emails from staff this week included interesting information about the town’s traffic management system which will be the topic of April’s Cary Matters. Yes, it is true I am already working on that. Some of that information includes:
• All major corridors throughout Town utilize traffic signal coordination including, but not limited to: N Harrison Avenue, Cary Parkway, Maynard Road, Davis Drive, NC 55, US 64, Walnut Street, and Kildaire Farm Road.
• A typical intersection has between 4 – 6 timing plans per day. For all locations, there is a peak hour plan for the morning and afternoon.
• A typical traffic signal can cost $150,000 to $200,000, depending on the size of the intersection, pole type used, and features required (like pedestrian crossing signals). A typical CCTV camera installation can cost $50,000.
• By the end of 2015, the Town will operate over 190 traffic signals and 30 CCTV cameras along over 100 miles of fiber optic cable.
• Traffic signals are preempted by emergency vehicles. The system gradually adds/subtracts time to a cycle to get the traffic signal back into sync.
To learn more about the traffic management system check out the town’s website or watch the April episode of Cary Matters.

There were very few emails received from citizens this week. Several emails commended the town on the snow/ice removal. Other emails included invitations to various events.

Next week will be busy for me. Some of the activities and events include the Parks Volunteer banquet, a work session on Imagine Cary, a regularly scheduled council meeting, events, dinners, and speaking engagements.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 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.