• Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was busy with several long nights including a long council meeting.

Monday I called all council members and council member elect George to hear their questions, concerns, and comments about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. Council member’s comments included the Lewter public hearing, the Mills Park Community Park, a request by the Cary Invasion, the Chapel Hill Road Rezoning, and the Westhigh South Rezoning. Later in the day I met with management, legal, administration, public information, and directors to review the agenda. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

My last meeting Monday was with Interim town manager Bajorek and an assistant town manager Overton. We talked about several items including the Wake Transit plan which now includes a bus rapid transit through Cary. It is important the Cary is a key component of this transit plan. We also talked about the first Google fiber hut that is being installed. They are not providing the town with many details about their expansion so we don’t have a lot to share. We also discussed next year’s Lazy Daze. As of now we are planning Lazy Daze to be held over two days. It will be located on town hall campus.

Tuesday started with a photo shoot of all the council members. These photos will be used on the web site and will be hung on the wall outside the council chambers. First there were individual photos, followed by the group photos, and ending up with goofy photos by the group (a tradition we started a few years ago).

After the photo shoot the council held a three hour work session on three topics. The first work session topic was on the Imagine Cary planning process. We started by reviewing Cary’s first land use plan from 1996. Then we were presented recommendations for the new process to change from a map approach to a policy driven approach. Council agreed with this direction. The new plan will remove the land use map and replace it with criteria that will determine what gets built. The consultant and staff went through several examples of how this will work. We will hold another work session in January to review the remaining chapters before our annual council-staff working retreat. The community will have an opportunity to review the new plan in the March/April time frame.

Our second topic was where to hold our annual council-staff working retreat. The main focus of the retreat will be on infill and redevelopment. The council decided to hold this retreat in Greensboro which should have some on-the-ground examples of infill and redevelopment that were done well and not so well.

The final topic at the work session was on the new downtown library and the associated parking deck. Citizens of Wake County approved a bond in 2007 which provided the county funding for new libraries. These funds must be spent by 2020 and that funding includes buying books. The new Cary library will be across from the Art Center next to the downtown park. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2017 and be completed in the fall of 2018. The biggest discussion on this work session topic was a parking deck. The county will provide $1 million towards parking and anything additional would be paid for by the town. After much deliberation the council decided to build a parking deck of about 350 spaces at a cost of $6.7 million plus and additional $450,000 for a premium façade. There are also additional costs for the entire project.

The biggest disagreement between council members was on the location of the parking deck. Two members disagreed with the location next to the park. The only other option would be to put it next to Walnut Street which meant having a parking deck as long as a football field next to the road. Many believed that scenario would detract from what we are trying to accomplish in downtown. In addition, staff stated that private developers told them development needed to be next to the road instead of the parking deck. Another discussion centered on creating a public private partnership to wrap the deck with other buildings and have it at least partly built by private funding. The problem with this suggestion is that it is a big risk. We would forfeit the $1 million from the county and then there may not be private developers that would be willing to do the public private partnership. In addition, it would mean the deck would be built at a different time than the library. I am happy with the final solution and look forward to the new library and deck. I believe it will be a great addition to our town especially our downtown.

Wednesday I attended the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting in downtown Raleigh. There were two public hearings and four regular agenda items. One public hearing included a Unified Planning Work Plan Amendment for the Town of Cary which was passed unanimously. This gives Cary $12,630 to develop plans for the implementation of the town’s transit plan and the collection of data. Our meeting concluded after about one hour and fifteen minutes.

Later Wednesday I joined council member Bush for the taping of the December episode of Cary Matters. The main topic was the council-staff mini retreat a few weeks ago to prioritize the upcoming budget. We were able to do all the segments in one take.

Thursday the council held a regularly scheduled meeting that lasted about five hours. During the presentations section of the meeting we named the recipient of the 2015 Hometown Spirit Award. This award is designed to recognize community-minded citizens who enhance the quality of life in Cary by preserving, promoting and carrying out positive small-town community values and traits. Anne Kratzer was named this year’s recipient and I can’t think of a more deserving person. Nominees Brent Miller and Desiree Kettle are also outstanding citizens and we are very blessed to have them in our community.

The business portion of the meeting included eight public hearings and 11 discussion items. The most controversial public hearing was a proposal to rezone 21.55 acres on the Lewter property at Carpenter Fire Station Road. The land use plan calls for medium to high density residential but the applicant is proposing a Publix. Most of the citizens spoke against the proposal and wanted to keep the existing designation of medium to high density.

Decisions made under discussion included:
• Extending transportation fee credits to Regency Park for five years making the total time of extension 30 years which is highly unusual.
• Providing the Cary Invasion basketball team with $16,000 worth of in-kind support.
• Approving Phase 1 of Mills Park Community Park.
• Leasing concession space in the Cary Theater to New Station LLC. They currently operate a successful coffee shop and café in the Raleigh market.
• Amending the connectivity ordinance to allow more flexible standards related to requirements for street connectivity. This will enable certain decisions regarding connectivity to be made at the time of rezoning.
• Rezoning 11.8 acres at Lake Drive and Chapel Hill Road to semi-detached/attached dwellings or townhomes, and neighborhood recreation, with a maximum density of five dwelling units per acre.
• Rezoning 41.48 acres on Westhigh Street to a maximum of 89 detached dwellings or 2.15 dwelling units per acre. Also ensuring a street connection to Salem Church Road, providing for a traffic signal at Westhigh Street and Cary Parkway when warranted, and preserving the historic Lynch Family House.
My thoughts on some of the decisions are as follows:

The fee credit extension for Regency is longer than any fee credit extension ever. But council felt that it was important for Regency to succeed so we extended the fee credit one last time.

Cary Invasion needs a place to play however the Herb Young center was designed as a community center and not a profession sports venue. So while council wants very much for the Cary Invasion to succeed they need to limit their hours at Herb Young to give our citizens a chance to use their community center. Council did agree to give them more support this year than previously.

The connectivity ordinance continues to be a major problem with council, citizens, and developers especially as infill projects are proposed. While the approved tiered system will help with some of the connectivity issues it will not solve the problem. Most of the council felt that this change will help us move an “inch forward”.

The rezoning proposal at Chapel Hill Road has been ongoing for several months. After several meetings and concessions by the developer, most of the concerns were addressed. The council approved this unanimously.

The rezoning at Westhigh also had several meetings and concessions by the developer. To me the remaining resistance was based mostly on lack of trust with NCDOT installing a traffic signal at Westhigh and Cary Parkway once the development is built. While there is no doubt in my mind that existing conditions are not good, I firmly believe that the new collector road in this proposal along with the traffic signal at Cary Parkway will improve the situation. In addition, the proposal had the same single housing density as the properties adjacent. This was also a unanimous approval by council. After the discussion items the council went into closed session to discuss one issue.

Friday I had the honor and privilege of in the tree lighting at Waverly Place. This is the fourth year of this event and I have been lucky to be present at all of them. There was a large crowd for this event and everyone joined Santa and me in singing Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer before the tree was lit. After the song Santa threw a handful of magic dust at the Christmas tree, most of which landed on the band’s keyboard, and the tree was lit. As Santa and I left the stage he proclaimed that he wanted to be in the Jaycees Cary Christmas parade in two weeks. Unfortunately, I don’t control that.

Emails this week included a request for a future park near Roberts Road, compliments to the staff at the Cary Arts Center, questions about a sewer spill in Lochmere, concerns about the Westhigh rezoning, a complaint about the town’s dog park, a request for a proclamation for France, concerns and support for the rezoning off Green Level Church road, requests to support the Cary Invasion basketball team, a long insult to council about our decisions degrading someone’s quality of life, a question about a proposal for a hotel on Harrison which has not been submitted, a concern about free editions of the Cary News littering the street, and a complaint about the newly approved parking deck for downtown.

Next week is Thanksgiving week so my schedule will be very light. The only items on my calendar are to give remarks at the Chinese Lantern Festival and to meet with the interim town manager. The rest of the week will be spent with friends, my wife, and two daughters, one I haven’t seen in almost a year. We are planning a big Thanksgiving feast with about a dozen in attendance. I hope your Thanksgiving is full of love, peace, happiness, and thoughts of giving thanks. Don’t eat too much turkey!

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 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, November 15th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week consisted mostly of presentations and the interviewing of town manager candidates.

Monday I talked with the interim town manager about several issues during our weekly one-on-one meeting. Topics included the sewer spill in Lochmere, getting information to the council-elect member, transportation development fee credits, noise complaints about Kellogg, and the upcoming rezoning for the new library.

Wednesday I had the privilege to join council member Bush in a visit to NC State. We spoke to the Media and Politics class or COM498. Some of their questions included:
• If you could think of one person who had the biggest impact on your decision to become an elected official, who would it be and why?
• What aspect of your campaigns have been the biggest success? What do you think caused the people of Cary to elect you?
• Who were the strongest opponents that you have faced? What campaign methods did they use that differed from yours?
• What issues are the most difficult to campaign for when it comes to persuading the people of
• Cary? Why do you think this is the case?
• As a mayor, do you think that there are terms or phrases politicians should avoid? If so, are there any examples you have come across in the past? If not, how do you go about crafting your campaign messages?
• Some politicians struggle to relate their somewhat complex political ideas to the public when they are trying to rally support. How much have you struggled to disengage from “political” talk when you are speaking with the public?
• How much importance do you place on the role of media as a way of informing the public and getting people involved?
• What kind of mass media do you believe is most worth the campaign dollar in political advertising (radio, TV, newspaper, etc.)?
• How have you used political advertising in the past? What overall effect did you feel this had on your campaign?
• One article we read says that there is a lot of strategy into when and where to place “on-air” ads. In your campaigns, have you targeted multiple demographics at any given time? Or do you align a campaign with your selected demographic and discuss issues important to them?
• Have you ever felt it was necessary to run negative ads against your competitors? And how have you responded to negative ads run against you?
• Have you ever had a situation where you felt you made a mistake in conveying a message? If so, what would you do differently?
• In one of our readings, Frank Luntz says, “you also have to consider the knowledge and frame of reference- the context- of your listener.” How do you get a grasp on the knowledge of your audience?
• Some of the research we’ve read indicates that many times citizens will only become involved in politics or elections towards the very end of a campaign. How do you go about mobilizing your intended audience to take action more proactively?
• What methods and strategies do you use to measure the persuasive impact of your individual political advertising or messaging?
We had a great time answering the questions and discussing issues related to communications and politics. The class seemed engaged and interested and even gave us applause in the end.

Wednesday was also Veterans Day. And as we were headed back to the car from speaking at NC State we couldn’t help notice the beautiful display of flags honoring all our Veterans. God bless each and every one of them for putting their lives on the line so that we can remain a free people.

Thursday I met with a group of seniors from Prestonwood to talk about current issues going on in the town and in their area of town which is district 2. Here are some of the updates I provided:
• The town manager search is in the interview stage. We may or may not choose from the candidates we are interviewing.
• We have a goal of appointing a town manager before the end of the year.
• Google Fiber started construction in the Triangle in June. Town staff and Google Fiber continue to work closely to manage the impact on residents during this process.
• For information on who to contact at Google for construction questions, please see the Town of Cary website and search on “gigabit fiber”.
• The Cary Parkway and High House Road Intersection Improvements Project will improve traffic flow and ease congestion through the intersection especially during the morning and afternoon work commute times. This will be done by adding a second left turn lane on both approaches of High House Road and the southbound approach of Cary Parkway and adding a right turn lane to all four approaches. Many of the existing trees and shrubs will be preserved and those impacted will be replaced in kind. All impacted sidewalks will also be replaced and the existing clock tower and walls at the intersection will be preserved. The current schedule is for construction to be completed in 2017. The project schedule was adjusted to accommodate DOT’s detour from the Morrisville Parkway railroad grade crossing project.
• The town’s traffic signal system is under construction with a completion date in the summer of 2016.
• Academy Street and Dry Avenue improvements are under construction with a completion date in the summer of 2016.
• Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge and Intersection improvements are under design with a completion date in the spring of 2019.
• Morrisville Parkway extension and I540 interchange are under design with a completion date of 2018.
• Walnut Street Pedestrian and traffic improvements are under construction with a completion date in the fall of 2016.
• Fire Station #2 is finishing construction this year. Dedication will be in December.
• Cary Tennis Park expansion under design with a completion date of the summer of 2017.
• White Oak Greenway at the American Tobacco Trail is under design with a completion date of 2017.
• Sports turf fields and field lighting are under construction with a completion date in the fall of 2016.
• Downtown Park is beginning construction with a completion date in the fall of 2016.
• Carpenter Park is under construction with a completion date in the spring of 2016.
• Mills Park phase II is under design with a completion date in the summer of 2017.
• Jack Smith Park is under construction with a completion date this year.
• We have lowered debt over 20% in the last 5 years.
• The fund balance is close to 80% of the operating budget.
• The fund balance is required to have a minimum is $33 million. Currently the town has about $75.4 million.
• Town’s debt is 11% and will go to 13% when we issue bonds the next round of voter approved bonds. Our ceiling is 15%.
• Financially we are in a good position and have improved our financial position based on bond rating agency criteria (Moody’s, standard and Poor, Fitch).
• We have over $300 million worth of projects to select from to implement within the next 5 years.
• Council reviewed capital projects and unanimously asked staff to look at spending capital on the library structured parking and capacity.
• Overall District 2 crime numbers are up for Part I crimes, mainly due to a rash of burglaries we had in the beginning of the year (Jan, Feb). Since then we have made several arrests and increased our efforts in the overall area, to include Preston.
• District 2 burglaries in recent months have been lower than the same months compared in 2014. An example is the month of September is down in 2015 compared to 2014 by -29%.
• District 2 violent crime is down -15% in 2015.
• The Barbee Farm development’s western half of the tract was rezoned from R-40 (Residential-40) & PDD (Planned Development District) to R-12CU (Residential-12-Conditional Use) on September 11, 2014. Conditions include a maximum density of 2 units per acre and a minimum lot size of 13,000 square feet with an average lot size of 15,000 square feet.
This group was very gracious and kind and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. We are already scheduling my visit for next year around this time.

Friday we began the interviewing process of the six candidates for town manager. This decision will be one of the biggest decisions the council will make during our time in office. The implications for the staff and town are huge. Friday’s process began at 4:30 PM and ended a little before 9 PM. Two of the candidates were reviewed during this time.

Saturday we reviewed the remaining four candidates starting at 9:15 AM and ending at 6:00 PM with an hour and a half for lunch. One interesting characteristic of multiple candidates was that they hadn’t interviewed for more than a decade. Many of them also said Cary was a premiere community with a well-known reputation. I am not allowed to say much else since our discussions were in closed session and this is an ongoing process.

Emails from staff this week included the construction and activity report. Items of note included:
• In October the average new single family dwelling was 3,695 square feet compared to 3,818 in 2011.
• Cary had 13.5% of new single family permits in Wake County in the month of September. Raleigh and Fuquay had more.
• 85 CO’s were issued for new single family dwellings in 25 neighborhoods.
• CO’s were issued for 24 multi-family units at Parkside Town Commons and 59 at Chatham Point Apartments.
• 6 new nonresidential CO’s were issued for the Restaurant Depot, the Children’s Lighthouse Daycare, and a new shell building.
• Single family permits were down 26% from the previous month.
• 12 new development plans were submitted in October that included 21,313 square feet of commercial and 139 hotel rooms, 145 single family dwellings, and 163 townhomes.
• Approved plans in October included the Prestonwood fitness center, White Oak Elementary Road improvements, Crosspointe Church expansion, and the town’s downtown park.
To see all approved plans for 2015 see http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Current+Year+Approved+Projects+(sorted+by+Date).pdf. To see all plans currently under review see 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 a complaint about sprawl, a complaint about someone’s neighbor, a complaint about MI homes, a complaint about crossing Cary Parkway between Evans and Norwell, and several invitations for events.

Next week will be a very busy week for me as we try to cram everything in before the Thanksgiving holiday week. Activities include a Mayors Association Outing, council pictures, a council work session, a taping of Cary Matters, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and the Waverly tree lighting ceremony.

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

• Monday, November 09th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week included a few meetings and several events.

Monday I met with the interim town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We discussed several items including potential businesses in the core of downtown. We also discussed future proposals that staff is preparing to bring to council for a decision. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Tuesday I met with the president of the Cary Sister Cities organization. She pointed out the next year will be the 40th anniversary of the Lazy Daze arts and crafts festival and the 25th year of Cary Sister Cities. Their plan is to bring the four sister cities mayors to Cary during that time. The sister cities organization and Cary Chamber members will be working to finance and help with the activities associated with the visit. We also talked about an additional sister city in India. This potential sister city is planning a research park similar to RTP but with more of a mix of uses. It is my understanding that to add a sister city will require that city to meet certain requirements and then have council approve. We’ll see if that happens.

Thursday the council held a Quasi-Judicial Public Hearing to consider a sketch site plan to develop a commercial building on a 3-acre portion of the Cary Towne Center property located at the intersection of Southeast Maynard Road and Cary Towne Boulevard. The proposal includes modifications to the Town’s development standards, including streetscape widths, disturbance within the thoroughfare corridor buffer, parking maximums, pedestrian connectivity, roadway setbacks, intersection spacing, and right-of-way easement dedication. The council agreed to the applicants request to continue this hearing until January to allow the applicant to consider the modifications approved and denied by council. Since this hearing is still pending I can’t discuss it further. The council adjourned after 2 hours.

Friday I was one of the featured speakers at Cary Academy’s celebration of creativity and innovation. I talked about the way Cary attracts companies and individuals in creative or innovative fields. I also talked about the way we use creative and innovative ideas in the creation of town facilities. My talk lasted about 15 minutes. Other speakers included the Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Flatiron Health, the Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University, LS3P Architects, Theoretical physicist and associate professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and several past and current Cary Academy students.

Saturday morning I attended the ribbon cutting for the Children’s Lighthouse Learning Center on McCrimmon Parkway. The learning center accommodates children from six weeks to the 5th grade and is based out of Texas. Their capacity is about 170 children and they have a very low teacher to child ratio. They opened on September 3rd. I had the honor and privilege of cutting the ribbon to officially open the center. I wish them the best of luck and success.

Later Saturday I attended another ribbon cutting at Ten Thousand Villages in the Shoppes of Kildaire. They are a non-profit that sells unique gifts, home décor, jewelry, art, and other treasures handcrafted by artisans from all over the world. I was joined by a couple of dozen people as we cut the ribbon and officially opened this store. Based on their success in Cameron Village I am sure they will be a huge success.

Cary was recognized twice this week by publications. Wall Street dot com named Cary as the #6 best city to live in America and Triangle Business Journal recognized Cary as the smartest city in the state. Cary is blessed to receive numerous kudos each year.

Emails from staff this week included the 3rd Quarter Report. Here are some notable items from that report:
• As of October 1st our population is 154,671 which is a 2.7% increase in the last 12 months
• Our incorporated land is now 58.57 square miles
• Third quarter plan submittals included 159,500 square feet of office, 113,869 square feet of educational institutional, 79,545 square feet of commercial, 144 single family lots, 190 townhomes, and 4 multi-family units
• Water demand was 2 million gallons a day higher than the 3rd quarter last year
• During the last 12 months violent crime was down 29%, property crime was up 7% with the largest property crime increase being motor vehicle theft which had a 13% increase
• Community Center attendance increased by 3.4% and associated revenue increased 8.3%
• The status on some of the major construction:
• The traffic signal system is under construction with a completion date in the summer of 2016
• Cary Parkway and High House improvements are under design with a completion date in the summer of 2017
• Academy Street and Dry Avenue improvements are under construction with a completion date in the summer of 2016
• Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge and Intersection improvements are under design with a completion date in the spring of 2019
• Morrisville Parkway extension and I540 interchange are under design with a completion date of 2018
• Walnut Street Pedestrian and traffic improvements are under construction with a completion date in the fall of 2016
• Fire Station #2 is under construction with a completion date of winter 2016
• Cary Tennis Park expansion under design with a completion date of the summer of 2017
• White Oak Greenway at the American Tobacco Trail is under design with a completion date of 2017
• Sports turf fields and field lighting are under construction with a completion date in the fall of 2016
• Downtown Park is beginning construction with a completion date in the fall of 2016
• Carpenter Park is under construction with a completion date in the spring of 2016
• Mills Park phase II is under design with a completion date in the summer of 2017
• Jack Smith Park is under construction with a completion date this year
• Recent accolades include:
• #2 up and coming for tech jobs (Zip Recruiter July 2015)
• #11 population and wealth growth (Self-Storage July 2015)
• #3 where white collar employment is booming (Forbes July 2015)
• #2 Life Sciences employment (Biospace August 2015)
• #4 Technology Jobs (Simply Hired July 2015)
• #3 finding a job (Career builder July 2015)
• #6 economic growth (US Conference of Mayors July 2015)
• #8 healthiest housing (Wallet Hub August 2015)
• #7 economic potential (fDi American cities of the future September 2015)
• Web site overhaul is underway with a completion by the end of 2016
To read the entire report visit to http://townofcary.uberflip.com/i/594072-2015-3rd-quarter-report.

In other staff emails a summary was sent for the Cary Tennis Championships. Here is some of the budget versus actuals from that tournament:
• Ticket sales budgeted at $5000 and actual was $11,069
• Merchandise was budgeted at $0 and actual was $1,104
• Event licensing was budgeted at $0 and actual was $15,425
• Sponsorships were budgeted at $189,500 and actual was $192,756
• Total revenues were budgeted at $214,500 and actual was $221,554
• Expenses were budgeted at $222,003 and actual was $203,797 for an event net of $17,758
We hope this tournament will be even a bigger success next year.
Emails from citizens included a complaint about urban sprawl, a comment about greenways, and a comment about mulching on private property.

Next week will include two talks and interviews of town manager candidates. My talks will be at NC State and with the seniors at Prestonwood.

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

harold2011_small2This week included several meetings resulting in a couple of long nights.

Monday I met with the interim town manager to go over a couple of issues. The first issue we discussed was the Westhigh rezoning which was tabled at the last council meeting. Residents had expressed the questions and concerns about the proposed collector road. There are three types of collector roads and the interim town manager said he would let me know which one was included in the Westhigh application. Next we discussed the upcoming work session scheduled for November 17th. This will be a long work session will have three major topics: the Imagine Cary process, the latest information on the downtown library, and questions about the council staff retreat.

Monday evening I participated in a Cary/Morrisville Joint Issues Committee meeting. Joining me from the town council were council members Bush and Robinson. Several topics were discussed and here are some of the takeaways:
• NC 54 has three areas that need widening between Maynard and I540. One of those areas is in Cary. A study will be completed soon to allow prioritization of state funding. It will probably be 10 years before those sections are all widened.
• Morrisville Parkway will be closed in February as part of the grade separation project. Traffic will be diverted onto already congested roads like Davis Drive.
• Sidewalks at McCrimmon Parkway and Davis Drive were discussed. Since the Cary portion has no curb and gutter it will be an expensive project and therefore did not make Cary’s priority list for this year.
• Morrisville adopted a panhandling ordinance which requires a permit, a safety vest, and doesn’t allow panhandling in public right-of-way. Cary has a similar ordinance but is more stringent.
• Morrisville also adopted a noise ordinance. Noise is limited until 6 AM with an exception for golf courses. The exception allows mowing of putting greens. Cary has a similar ordinance but is more stringent.
The next meeting of this committee will be early in 2016. A date has yet to be determined. One of our discussions will focus on what legislation in the short session might impact our communities.

Monday night I briefly attended a meeting of the Kildaire Farm Homeowner Association. I spent about half an hour answering questions. Most questions were focused on road improvements, sidewalks, and greenways. This was the second time I attended part of their annual meeting. I hope to be invited to future meetings.

Tuesday the council met in closed session to review the information about candidates for the town manager position. After two hours of discussion and review the town council decided to conduct initial interviews with six candidates. Depending on how that goes the council may or may not interview more candidates. The interviewing will take place as soon as candidate, council, and consultant calendars all have availability. The council is still on schedule to appoint a new town manager by the end of the year.

Wednesday I had a private meeting with a well-respected Cary resident on three topics: the town manager, public art, and a public private partnership. I am so proud to live in a community where residents care enough to want to meet with elected officials about crucial issues that will impact the town’s future. Our citizen involvement is one of the main reasons Cary is such a great place.

Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the 57th Cary Band Day competition. The exhibitions by the host, Cary High School, and guest James Madison University was spectacular. If you have never been to a band competition you should go to at least once in your life. You would be amazed at the sound coming from those bands. Especially with a large college band like James Madison that has 480 members. BTW, Cary High School will be marching in the Macy’s parade next year and needs our support. So please go on line at http://www.turnthebigapplegreen.org and donate to help our young Cary ambassadors get to New York.

This week emails from staff included two updates. The committee for the Wake Transit Plan met last week and recommended to the Wake County Commissioners that we move forward with bus and wait on rail. There were concerns about what the legislature is doing to the Durham/Orange Light Rail project. It appears the referendum will be on the November 2016 ballot. Staff also sent out notification that water pressure will increase in the Southern Pressure Zone. This will mostly impact customers along Kildaire Farm Road. Staff is sending out notices and more information can be found at http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/waterresources/water/Water_Projects/Plumtree_Tank_Modification_Project_Facts.htm.

Emails from citizens included a complaint about volcano mulching of trees on private property, a complaint that an Islamic organization is growing in Cary, a request for a Mast General Store in downtown, a request to build a community center in Mills Park, a request to donate a bench on the American Tobacco trail, and a complaint about pedestrian safety in Picardy Point.

Next week I will have a light schedule. Activities will include a quasi-judicial council meeting, a speaking engagement at Cary Academy, and two ribbon cuttings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 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, October 25th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a busy week with several long nights.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of their concerns and questions about the agenda for the regularly scheduled council meeting on Thursday. I was able to contact all council members and questions centered on the two rezoning requests with protest petitions. Later Monday I met with management, administration, legal, and public information to review the items on the agenda. One of the rezoning requests was for a project on West High. A big objection of the residents was their desire to have a connection to Davis Drive over railroad tracks. It was pointed out by staff that several attempts have failed to convince CSX to allow a crossing at that location. In fact one developer hired a consultant who worked on that project for a year. Unfortunately, it appears that the crossing of the railroad at West High will never happen.

Later Monday I met with the interim town manager and assistant town managers. We discussed several items but one item about a development downtown was very important. A developer has reached an agreement with the Baptist Church to share property with his development. This development proposal will include structured parking which will require a town partnership. We should hear more about this in the coming days.

Monday night I met with the Mayors Association. There were nine mayors in attendance. Missing from the meeting were mayors from Raleigh, Garner, and Rolesville. We mostly discussed elections that have occurred or are about to occur in our towns. Three of the mayors, Knightdale, Wendell, and Apex, are not seeking re-election. So we will be adding new members to the Mayors Association. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.

Tuesday the council held its fall mini-retreat to help staff set the budget for next year. There were three items introduced and discussed and four items brought back for discussion from a June 11th work session.

The first topic was the status of our financial position. Here are some notes from that discussion:
• We have lowered debt over 20% in the last 5 years.
• Total fund balance is 40% or about 5 months of operating budget. Town is well above what is required and what other AAA municipalities are doing.
• The fund balance is close to 80% of the operating budget.
• The fund balance is required to have a minimum is $33 million. Currently the town has about $75.4 million.
• Town’s debt is 11% and will go to 13% when we issue bonds the next round of voter approved bonds. Our ceiling is 15%.
• Financially we are in a good position and have improved our financial position based on bond rating agency criteria.

Our next discussion was on the town’s Capital Improvement Plan. The following are notes from that discussion:
• We have over $300 million worth of projects to select from to implement within the next 5 years.
• We have about $42 million of spend as you go (green money) available. Staff will maintain that level since council is not interested in adjusting that level. Anything over that is included in capital budget.
• Since we recently issued bond debt from the 2012 voter approved bonds any new large debt would probably be in a 2018 bond referendum.
• Council reviewed projects and unanimously asked staff to look at spending capital on the library structured parking and capacity.
The third discussion was on strategic issues for the town budget. We went around to each council member one at a time and noted high priority operational issues:
• Maintain and improve town owned historic structures – Ed
• Enhancing bike and pedestrian opportunities – Lori
• Add people to the Parks and Recreation staff – Don
• Make infrastructure out west a high priority – Harold
• Pay special attention to dying strip malls – Jack
• There is a lack of middle school capacity, assist in whatever way to help the WCPSS – Jennifer
• Use the Ivy Ellington House as a welcome center or visitor center – Ed
• Make sure IT infrastructure investments are better funded – Lori
• Look for ways to leverage public/private partnerships in downtown – Don
• Look for opportunities for greenway connectivity – Harold
• Partner with local sponsors for venues and smaller projects – Jack
• Add meaningful recreation on greenways – Jennifer
• Add interpretive signage along greenways (special stand of trees, where creek goes, etc) – Ed
• Concentration on branding especially with our venues – Lori
• Urge Duke Energy to put utilities underground – Don
• Create grade separation for greenways – Harold
• Look for business development opportunities for startups in areas like downtown – Jack
• Enhance safety for pedestrians (Louis Stephens Drive) – Jennifer
• Continue focusing on aging issues – Ed
• Create an online version of a guide for new residents – Lori
• Work with Amtrak to not block Harrison and Academy simultaneously – Don
• Look for short term solutions for high growth areas – Harold
• Set up a program to pair volunteers with needs – Jennifer
• Incentivize developers to do more senior housing – Don
• Create a master plan for the library site downtown – Don
• Build the Walker Street sidewalk between Waldo and Chatham – Don
• Refresh affordable housing plan – Lori
Next the council revisited items that were discussed in the June 11th work session. Here are some of the points and decisions made at that discussion:
• Staff reviewed School crossing guards and SROs. Almost all middle school principals said they really don’t see the need for crossing guards. The police department will help train Davis Drive Middle school staff who is acting as crossing guards.
• Staff reviewed recycling containers at town facilities. There are currently recycling containers at every park. Council decided to add additional recycling at ball fields and special use venues at a cost of around $30,000. Staff was directed to look for sponsorship for solar cans. Staff agreed to come up with a cost in the budget to propose to council in the $30K to $80K range.
• Council unanimously agreed that Cary Matters TV program needed changing. The Public Information Officer will bring back a proposal with cost estimates.
• Staff reviewed Cary’s sports venues and their use. They reported that we are close to capacity in use. It was noted that these venues help support the hotel/motel tax. Cary provides 26% of all hotel/motel money. Council discussed the idea of marketing our venues more. Staff was asked to bring back options with costs for more marketing if needed.
Our work session ended after about five hours.

Wednesday I attended the executive board meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. There were a couple of items of interest to Cary. There was an amendment to adjust the allocation in the unified work plan for a new position in the Town of Cary’s Transportation and Facilities Group. This new Transit Planner position will assist staff in areas relating to special projects and grant coordination. The position will work in concert with all Cary Transit staff on tasks related to overall planning of the system for the future. There was also a Memorandum of Understanding between City of Raleigh, GoTriangle and the Town of Cary for distribution of additional funding.

Thursday the council held its second regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were 7 public hearings and 8 discussion items. The two most controversial discussion items were the Chapel Hill Road at Lake Drive rezoning and the Westhigh South rezoning. Both of these had valid protest petitions which require 5 out of 6 affirmative votes for approval. The applicants asked that these be postponed until the November 19th meeting which was unanimously granted by council. After the meeting the council went into closed session where it received information from the consultant about candidates for town manager. The council has a meeting scheduled Tuesday to discuss these candidates and are still on schedule to announce a new town manager by the end of the year.
Emails from staff this week included a notification that due to the construction on Academy Street, the annual Cary Jaycee’s Christmas Parade is not able to follow it’s normal parade route down East Chatham turning south onto Academy Street. Town Staff consulted with the Cary Jaycee’s and determined the best parade route for 2015 will be to keep it all on Chatham Street starting at the East Roundabout as it always has begun and ending at the West Roundabout. The parade starts at 2pm and generally lasts about an hour and a half to two hours. The Cary Jaycee’s will begin the process of informing businesses who will be located along this new parade route. The town will work to make reasonable accommodation to businesses for any special events they may already have scheduled prior to this new parade route. The parade will occur on Saturday, December 12th at 2pm.

Emails from citizens this week include concerns about a rezoning, a concern about volcano mulching of trees, and a complaint about NCDOT’s rail repair downtown. I also received, along with council members, several insulting emails from an individual who believes that the council is involved in about every conspiracy known to man. Comes with the territory I guess.

Next week’s activities include a meeting of the Morrisville-Cary Joint Issues Committee, a special called meeting to review information related to the town manager search, Cary Band Day, and other meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 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, October 18th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was much slower than last week and included a few events and several meetings.

Monday I met with the 3rd grade classes at Cary elementary. I talked about what my duties are as mayor and a member of council then I answered questions. After answering questions they presented me with a beautiful ornament of Cary Elementary. Then I took pictures with each 3rd grade class. This was a lot of fun and I hope they will invite me back in the future.

Monday evening I met with the interim town manager for our one on one weekly meeting. We discussed several issues including connectivity, a downtown development, a sidewalk on Walker Street between Waldo Street and Chatham Street, and the town’s water mixer in Jordan Lake to improve water quality.

Tuesday I had a quarterly one on one meeting with the town attorney. In these meetings the town attorney goes over legal cases that in progress and potential legal actions. We talked about half a dozen issues.

Wednesday I had a brief interview with Gowri Goli about the “Spices of Liberty” movie being filmed. This is the story o of second generation of Indian American immigrants who try to integrate the wisdom and lessons they learned from India into the life they live in the United States. You can find out more about this movie at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4625840/. I was filmed talking about the importance of freedom in America.

Thursday I had the honor and privilege of introducing former Cary Mayor Pro-Tem Gale Adcock at her N.C. House of Representatives kickoff event. Several dozen people were in attendance including council members Frantz and Yerha and former council member Erv Portman. While we miss Gale on council, we are impressed with her determination to protect Cary’s authority and reach across the aisle to get things done. Without cooperation and respect for both political parties in the state we will never reach our potential as a state.

Friday I attended a tree dedication ceremony for former town clerk Sue Rowland who retired last July after 22 years of public service. The N.C. Association of Municipal Clerks dedicated an Overcup Oak tree in her honor and it is planted in the courtyard at town hall. After the tree dedication the council surprised Ms. Rowland by naming the courtyard after her. There is now a plaque that reads:

“In honor of beloved Town Clerk, Sue Rowland, who was appointed Cary Town Clerk in 1992 and distinguished herself as a person of outstanding ability during her 22-year career with the Town of Cary. Establishing a high standard of integrity, leadership and professionalism, Sue spent decades committed to the Town Council, Town staff, the community and professional organizations by faithfully executing her duties as Town Clerk with selflessness and compassion, working to ensure all were afforded the best possible services in a timely, equitable and efficient manner. Sue was named the 2012 Clerk of the Year by the North Carolina Association of Municipal Clerks; she retired from the Town of Cary in 2014 with over 30 years of public service.”

I miss working with Sue but am comforted knowing that she is still making a difference in the community by volunteering and by helping folks with her personal training skills. God bless her and all the clerks for all they do for our community.

Saturday I gave remarks at the dedication of the New Hope Church Road Park Dedication. Here is an excerpt from those remarks:

“… We first started talking about this project over 10 years ago and completed it this past summer. This is a beautiful site, and it’s great to see it come to fruition.

While this is the only trailhead along the American Tobacco Trail that was built and is maintained by the Town, you all should know that this project would not have come together so nicely without the support of our regional and state partners, some of whom are with us today: Chatham County, The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, and The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. These folks were with us every step of the trail! And their financial support is an important reason the Trailhead exists today.

In addition to being the only trailhead along the ATT that Cary built and maintains, this 12-acre site is an important parking facility for Cary residents and users of the ATT. It’s also one of the few locations in Wake and Chatham Counties along the 22-mile ATT that offers potable water and restroom facilities. As a runner, I can tell you water and restrooms are a big deal after a nice long run.

The ATT was built on a former railroad corridor. As you arrived today, I hope you were able to enjoy the four public art figures, titled “Visitors” that were created by sculptor John Merigian (me ri gee an) These four steel figures, collectively called The Visitors, reflect the railroad heritage of this site – they look as if they were made of old rails and have the shape of a rail.

We also have a few horses in attendance today, courtesy of our friends at the North Carolina Horse Council. For those who have been on the ATT, you’ve probably noticed that walkers, runners and cyclists share the trail with equestrians. Spend a few moments today speaking with the Horse Council about protocol when sharing the trail with a horse and rider.

An important focus of Cary’s greenway system is connectivity. Our Trailhead Park joins over 30 other parks and 70 miles of greenways, which already connect, or plan to connect to Wake, Durham and Chatham counties as well as Raleigh, Morrisville and Apex trails and greenways. I encourage you to spend some time discovering our different parks and greenways. To make it easy for you, we created our Bike and Hike app to help you navigate all the outdoor recreation we have in Cary; the app’s available for Apple and Android devices.

In Cary, our decisions reflect our Quality of Life Guiding Principles. In those, we talk about our distinctive sense of place. We state that citizens and users will take pride in the attractive appearance of our parks, that they value our community’s recreational opportunities and that they feel encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles. I believe these guiding principles are reflected in the work we have accomplished at this Trailhead. …”

I was at this event about an hour.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint from a former council candidate that closed sessions are illegal (General Statutes beg to differ), a complaint about crossing Cary Parkway as a pedestrian, a request for a sidewalk in west Cary, a complaint about the temporary closing of a railroad crossing, and a complaint about noise coming from a greenway.

Next week promises to be a very difficult week for me with several long nights. Activities include a meeting with the Wake County Mayors Association, a mini-retreat of the town council and staff, a meeting with the CAMPO executive board, a council meeting, and a meeting with consultants to go over town manager candidates.

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

• Sunday, October 11th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a busy week even though much of it was event related.

Monday started with calls to all council members to hear of questions or concerns about Thursday’s upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all council members except Bush. Since we had such a short agenda there were no questions or concerns.

Later Monday I met with staff to go over the agenda. After our review we believed the meeting would be under an hour.

My last meeting on Monday was with the interim town manager and assistant town managers. We discussed a preliminary proposal for the Cary Town mall and staff reorganization. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Tuesday started with a visit to Davis Drive Elementary. First I spoke to classroom elected mayors and then I spoke to the entire third grade class. I spent a few minutes talking about my mayoral duties and then answered questions from the 3rd graders. After the question and answer I took pictures with each of the individual classes. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to my next visit.

Tuesday night I briefly visited the SAS Championship pro-am party but was unable to stay since it was election night.

After the pro-am party I headed over to Rally Point and joined Don Frantz and Lori Bush in celebrating our reelection to the Cary Town Council. There were about 50 or so supporters there joining in the celebration. I am very humbled and honored that the citizens of Cary believe in me and this council and the direction we are going. I think the last eight years have been good ones for the town but I believe if we all continue working together the next four years will be even greater. I look forward to serving the next four years. Thank you Cary for your belief and trust in me.
Wednesday afternoon I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Smith, Cary Chamber president Johnson, and a friend in participating in the SAS Championship pro-am. We were fortunate to play with professional golfer Steve Pate. We had a great time and the weather was perfect.

Thursday at 7:30 AM we started with our second round of the pro-am. For this round we had professional golfer Carlos Franco who was a hoot. A great time was had by all and we actually finished in 4th place.

Thursday afternoon I did a taping for the golf channel to welcome everyone to Cary and the SAS Championships. My message was about 30 seconds long and played at the beginning of the broadcast on Friday.

Thursday night the council held their first council meeting of the month. At the meeting we unanimously approved an economic incentive of $104,000 for DB Global who committed to adding 250 new high paying jobs and over $9 million in additional investments.

Council also reviewed the covered tennis courts planned for the Cary Tennis Park. There was some confusion that these were indoor courts and that they would be used to draw additional events. These courts will be covered courts that may or may not be converted to indoor courts in the future. They will be used mostly for citizen recreation and programming. However, they may be used for existing events in case of rain. These covered courts will not be heated or have air conditioning. Staff reported that the design is 80% complete which means construction should follow soon. The council meeting concluded after a length closed session.

Saturday I attended the noon and evening sessions of the Diwali festival at Koka Booth amphitheater. Diwali is one of the largest Indian cultural celebrations in the southeastern United States. It’s also the town’s largest fall cultural festival, and the largest event we host at Koka Booth Amphitheater. Diwali’s received the “Arts and Humanities Award” from the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association. The theme for Diwali this year was Mahotsav which means Grand Celebration. The main attraction in the evening was musical artists Kavita Krisnamurthy, who’s been called a Bollywood legend, has sung in six continents and in some of the world’s finest venues, including the Royal Albert Hall in London, Madison Square Gardens in New York City and The Kennedy Center in DC. Kavita sang with Shurjo Bhattacharya who has performed in North America and Asia. The day was capped off with a great display of fireworks. Despite the cool rainy weather there was a good crowd and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

Sunday I attended the final round of the SAS Championships at Prestonwood Country Club. This was the 15th year SAS has sponsored this senior PGA event. There was fantastic golf and good crowds. We are lucky to have this event that showcases Cary as one of the most beautiful places in America.

Emails from staff this week included the construction activity report. In September the average single family dwelling was 3,377 square feet compared to 3,656 square feet in September 2011. 104 certificates of occupancy were issued in 25 neighborhoods, 2 were issued for 51 multi-family units, and 2 were issued for nonresidential purposes. Through August single family permits were up 2.8% nationally, 5.2% statewide, and 13.5% in Cary from the previous month.

Other emails from staff included legislative updates. They include:
• Cary aesthetic controls have been eliminated. This removes our anti-monotony, garagescapes, and slab-on-grade requirements.
• Cary’s protest petitions were also eliminated. Now developers only need a simple majority even if surrounding properties object to the development.
• Local governments are now prohibited from requiring compliance with state rules for Jordan Lake.
• Our 100 foot stream buffers, used to protect water quality, may now be eliminated since they are stronger than the state requirements.
• Developers may now include stream buffers in their buffer requirements basically allowing them to build right next to the buffer. This will likely create future flooding events for those new residents.
• The town may no longer require developers to have stormwater protections greater than the state. This is another rule that will likely create future flooding events for residents.
There are a whole host of changes and the legislature continues their assault on our right to govern ourselves. For Cary this means a “dumbing down” of the rules which puts our quality of life in jeopardy.

Emails from citizens included a thank you to the council for all we do, a complaint about my last journal where I summarized candidates at a forum, a concern about crossing Cary Parkway on a bicycle, a concern about the lack of information on road closures, and a complaint about the lack of information on elections.

Next week’s activities include a visit to Cary Elementary, a trail head dedication, a legislative campaign kickoff for a friend, and several meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 18th. 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, October 04th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was dominated by a couple of long nights and historic rainy weather.

Monday I met with outgoing town manager Ben Shivar and interim town manager Mike Bajorek for our weekly one on one meeting. We spent most of the time reviewing a presentation that was to be given to the volunteers on the town’s boards and commissions Tuesday night. We also talked about a few other minor issues.

Monday night I attended the Heart of Cary’s candidate forum which was moderated by WRAL’s Renee Chou. Ms. Chou has to get up every morning around 2:30. So staying up for this was way past her bedtime. Kudos to Ms. Chou for helping our community better understand the candidates. The format of the forum included opening and closing statements and questions with thirty seconds to respond. The following are my opinions of the candidates and how they performed.

I will start with the District B candidates (disclosure: I am wholeheartedly endorsing Don Frantz so my comments may be biased). Don Frantz performed the best of the three. He knew all the issues in depth and it showed in his answers. Mr. Lazzaro continues to base his platform on the belief that citizens are uninformed, that the town is not trying to communicate with the citizens, and that the council is making decisions in secret. WOW! That couldn’t further from the truth.

The Cary Town Council has gone over and beyond making sure we are open and accessible to the public. We notify the public via an email list, bud newsletter, and Cary TV. In addition, three council members regularly blog and tweet about issues. Council members and staff also make sure to address issues sent to us by citizens. FYI, I have responded to every email sent to my town email since 2007. Council has never made a decision behind closed doors since that violates public meetings laws.

Mr. Talton, the third candidate in this race, made comments that suggest he disagrees with pretty much everything the current council is doing. While that is prerogative I hope he realizes that it takes four votes to get anything done and he will need to learn to work with others. I am not seeing that at all.

During the question and answer period both Lazzaro and Talton showed that they had little understanding about what authority the town does and does not have in relation to state government. In addition, neither of them wanted to make a comment on roads saying they were not up on the issues. Again WOW! Roads have consistently been one of the top three issues since I have been involved in town government starting in 1997. Stating that you are a candidate for Cary council and you are not up on road issues is almost unbelievable. Don Frantz is a slam dunk in this race. Neither of his opponents comes close to having the knowledge to be an effective representative of their district.

The forum was much more interesting for the District D race. All the District D candidates seem to do much better in this forum than the Cary Chamber forum. Mr. Rinehart was the most improved. All the candidates did a great job answering questions but if I had to pick a winner it would be Caggia since she had the depth of knowledge in her answers and understood what authority the town has and does not have. Mr. George, Mr. Rinehart, and Ms. Cervania were all very solid in their answers. However Cervania lacked understanding in what authority the town has on roads and what the legislature thinks about creating new school systems. Mr. George pointed out that the town and state have plans for road improvements but adequate funding is not available. This shows that 1) he understands the authority the town and state shares and that 2) roads are a huge expense that is usually handled with bonds. Interestingly, none of the candidates said they would sign a pledge not to raise taxes. So I guess none of them are tea party candidates. After this forum I think District D would be well represented by any of these four candidates.

Tuesday I joined council members and staff members in a dinner to thank Cary board and commission members and to welcome new members. In the programming piece Interim Town Manager Bajorek and I gave a presentation with updates that included a lot of information. Here are some updates that may be of interest:
• Ben Shivar retired September 30th after 7 years as Town Manager, almost 20 years with the Town and over 39 years of service to NC local governments. The recruiting process for a new town manager is underway. Council hopes to make a decision within two or three months.
• Imagine Cary is the most ambitious long-range planning effort in our community’s history. It’s a wholesale update to our Comprehensive Plan and when complete will be an integrated, policy-driven document that blends 13 existing separate plans into one with a time period spanning of 25 years. The project, started in January 2013, is now where the draft is nearly “two-thirds” complete. The plan contains the key policy recommendations for land use, transportation, housing, economic development and other related components. Staff took this draft to Council on Thursday seeking comments on the format of the plan and some keys issues. Based on this feedback, staff will finish off the draft and take it out for public comment. This is targeted to occur in December or January with the plan adoption in the Spring of 2016.
• The Town of Cary is planning a major update to its website, www.townofcary.org. A complete overhaul of the website will result in a fresh design, new features and improved efficiency for staff and site visitors. This is the sixth redesign of Cary’s website, which was created in 1997. The last redesign was in 2009. This overhaul should take advantage of the opinions and expertise of our users. So far we’ve heard from nearly 300 citizens, but there’s room in the project for everyone, so if you haven’t gotten involved yet, please do. The project is on budget and on schedule with a launch planned before the end of 2016.
• The town is moving forward on an open data initiative. Currently we are looking at different software portals, researching the most requested data sets off other municipality websites, and pulling together data sets we currently have available in addition to reviewing our Open data Policy. This site will be up and running prior to the end of the June 2016
• AT&T, Google and Time Warner (and a couple other smaller companies) are working hard to connect the region to gigabyte speed internet. Google alone has over 60 crews working in Cary. The Town has established a web page to help citizens know who is working in front of their homes and how to contact them.
• Realignment of Carpenter Fire Station Road from NC 55 to Morrisville Carpenter Road will include a new four-lane, median-divided roadway with paved shoulders for bicycles and a new underpass below the CSX railroad. This project cost $17 million and is funded through the 2012 Community Investment Bonds. Construction should begin in the spring of 2017 with completion scheduled for spring of 2019.
• Widening the eastern segment of Green Level West Road from the newly constructed northbound ramps located at NC 540 interchange to NC 55 will create additional roadway capacity for Cary commuters, continuation of sidewalks along the corridor, and wide outside lanes to accommodate experienced cyclists. Funding for this project is $14 million through CAMPO and Community Bonds. Construction is expected to begin spring of 2017.
• The Cary Parkway at High House Road Intersection improvements will incorporate an additional left turn lane on both High House Road approaches and the northbound Cary Parkway approach, an exclusive right turn lane on all approaches, and an upgraded traffic signal with new decorative traffic signal mast arm poles. It is schedule to begin in the Spring of 2017.
• The Academy Street Streetscape will cost about $8 million (approved by voters as part of 2012 Community Investment Bonds). Construction began in the Spring of this year and expected to end Spring of 2016.
• The Downtown Park will begin construction this fall and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016. Features include a large fountain, outdoor performance space and open lawn areas. Total project budget of $5,200,000, which includes design and construction, was approved with the 2012 Community Investment Bonds.
• Fire Station #2 has an estimated project cost of $8,172,000 and is partly funded by the Community Bonds referendum. Construction began early 2015 and will be completed in the winter of 2016. The old Fire Station #2 will continue to operate after the new one has opened.
• The Walnut Street Pedestrian and Traffic Improvements will include an additional northbound travel lane and sidewalks on Walnut Street across the US1/64 overpass. It is expected to be completed by the summer 2016 at a cost of $7,000,000 which is shared by NCDOT and the Town of Cary
• The Jack Smith Park will include a 50-acre tract that was formerly the Bartley Family Farm. The park will have playground, dog park, public art and picnic shelter, among other features. It is currently under construction and expected to be complete by the fall of this year. Funding was approved by Cary voters as part of the 2012 Community Investment Bonds.
• Carpenter Park is a 16-acre parcel designed as a future neighborhood park. Features will include a children’s play area, a multi-sport court, a community garden, and a picnic shelter. Construction expected to be completed by winter of 2016. Design and construction costs total $2,983,000.
• Cary Tennis Park improvements include 8 new tennis courts that will be covered for year-round play and expansions to the clubhouse. Construction is expected to begin in the winter of 2016 and last until the winter of 2017. The estimated of the park is about $4.5 million.
• The Old Reedy Creek Road Trailhead improvements will include 82 parking spaces and a restroom, with a trail connection to the end of the Black Creek Greenway. Construction is expected to be complete by the summer of 2016. The construction budget is currently $1,310,000 and includes some grant funding.
• Cary’s Water Plant Expansion includes a new raw water ozone structure, filters, water chemical building and administration building. Current the town’s capacity is 40 MGD and this expansion will give us a capacity of 56 MGD. The total cost is $62 million including the plant and associated raw water pump station expansion. Estimated completion date is currently the fall of 2016.
• Over the last two years, Cary has repaved and improved the largest amount of streets in the Town’s history. These improvements also include 25 miles of sidewalks, which is a 6% increase of our existing miles.
The dinner concluded after about two and a half hours.

Wednesday I was scheduled to meet with a Raleigh council member who had to cancel our meeting. Instead I met with town staff to go over new software which will be used for council agendas.

Thursday the council held a work session on the Imagine Cary process and the Wake Transit Investment Strategy.

The purpose of the Imagine Cary work session was to present the work conducted by the Committee for the Future, the staff and consultant team. This was a two-thirds draft of the final product which will be called the Cary Community Plan. The presentation was divided into five main topic areas: Foundation for today and tomorrow, how we will live, how we will work, how we will shape our community, and a future growth map. Some of the biggest changes recommended include:
• There are 36 activity centers which would be reduced to 5 intense development areas.
• Currently there are about 20 types of growth. This will be changed to about 10.
• Neighborhoods will not change much and character will be the focus. Council emphasized the need to protect the character of all neighborhoods.
• Older neighborhoods will become a higher priority.
• There will be special planning areas like downtown.
• Office parks will be transformed into mix use employment centers.
• New employment centers will be created through public-private partnerships.
• New policies will be created to protect and nurture small businesses.
This part of the work session concluded after about two hours. Council will have another work session in November. The Committee for the Future will review the latest in October. There will be an open house for the public in December and January.

The second part of the work session was on the Wake Transit Plan. This feedback for this plan has been underway for over a year. It will determine the County’s future transit needs that will meet a rapidly growing population expected to increase by one million citizens by 2054. The final determined strategy is anticipated to be funded through passage of a half-cent sales tax referendum by Wake County registered voters. As part of this funding plan, the Wake County Commissioners also have the option of increasing annual vehicle registrations fees by $7 a year without a voter referendum. Council’s review of this plan unanimously stated that ridership should be the focus. The majority believed that rail should be included in the plan understanding that light rail is currently not being considered. Some interesting data related to the plan’s outreach showed that more non-riders participated than riders, and that Cary had one of the highest participation rates. The current schedule is for the referendum to be held in November 2016 contingent upon final approval by CAMPO, Wake County, and GoTriangle per State legislation. Wake County staff, along with project consultant team, will develop the final draft plan based on all feedback received. The Wake Transit Plan Advisory Committee is scheduled to reconvene in mid-October 2015 to assist in the development of the final draft plan. The draft plan is anticipated to be released for final public comment in December 2015.

Friday I participated in the last NC Metro Mayors meeting of the year. These meetings are held while the legislature is in session and summarize what is going on. This meeting focused on our successes and failures and what to expect next year in the short session.

Saturday I had the honor of taping the keg at the Triangle Oktoberfest which was held at Koka Booth amphitheater. This festival was put on by the Apex Sunrise and Cary MacGregor Rotary Clubs in collaboration with the Town of Cary. Not only was it a lot of fun but it raised money for Alzheimers of North Carolina. There was a live German band, a kid’s zone, traditional Bavarian food and fare, and plenty of local and authentic German beer. I was honored to receive a traditional gingerbread heart from Annelore’s German Bakery which will soon be located on Chatham Street in Cary. The gingerbread heart is similar to a giving of a valentine. I wore it the entire time I was there. What a great time. Next year I will need to wear lederhosen.

Emails from staff this week included notification of large tree removal on town hall campus. After a storm several weeks ago, public works staff discovered that one of the two mature Willow Oaks on the west end of the Herb Young Community Center had been struck by lightning. The lightening caused significant damage to the stem. Additionally, infestation of stem boring insects and the drying of foliage led to the decline of the tree. An independent Arborist provided a health assessment and determined that the tree is considered high risk. This means it has the highest likelihood of failure and the consequences of failure due to its location could be significant. For that reason, the town will have to remove the tree.

Emails from citizens this week include a request for subsidized senior housing in downtown, a concern about disposal of leaves, a concern about median maintenance, a comment about an abandoned car, and questions about a future downtown development.

Next week is election week. Be sure to vote on Tuesday. Other activities include a talk at Davis Drive Elementary, participation in the SAS Championships, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and Diwali.

As I write this the town is experiencing the 10th consecutive day of rain. The record for consecutive days of rain is 11. It will be interesting to see if we beat it. During this time I have measured over 7 inches of rain at my house. This should have alleviated any shortages we had at Jordan Lake but has created the opposite problem of flash flooding. It will be nice to see the sun again.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 11th. 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, September 27th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was busy with several long nights.

Monday I called council members to hear their concerns and questions about the agenda for the upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting that was that Thursday. This week I was hampered by a Verizon phone outage and the busy circuits on the land lines. As a result I was only able to get in touch with council members Yerha and Bush. There were very few questions but we all believed the meeting would last about 5 hours.

Later Monday I met with management, administration, public information, and legal to go over the agenda. This review of the agenda lasted about 30 minutes.

After the agenda meeting I met with management to go over several issues including several downtown issues. One issue of note is that water levels at Jordan Lake near our input are about three and a half feet below normal. Even after two days of rain this past weekend the drought persists. So if you can conserve please do. This meeting also lasted about 30 minutes.

Following a meeting with the managers I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. All mayors were present except the mayors of Raleigh and Knightdale. First we heard from the new executive director of the Triangle J Council of Governments, Lee Worsley, who has been in his position about two months. He talked about visiting municipalities to find out how Triangle J can better serve and help. After Mr. Worsley the mayors heard from Triangle J’s Renee Boyette about Foreign Trade Zones. These zones are locations that offer companies special procedures by allowing delayed or reduced duty payments on foreign merchandise as well as other savings. After the Triangle J’s presentations the mayors met privately. The only action taken was a resolution recommending the orange route for the Triangle Expressway’s southeast extension. The mayors also talked about issues within each town and elections. We concluded around 8:30 PM.

Tuesday I talked with the editor of Cary News. She expressed her desire for me to participate in the questionnaire, apologized for the short timeline, and extended the deadline so that I could participate. Then we talked about the editing of responses. She explained that it was only grammatical and spelling and promised that they would not change answers to questions. This was followed by a long discussion about fair and balanced. Her predecessor and previous reporters had told me (and others) in person that it was acceptable for a reporter to inject an opinion into a story as long as it was factual. The current editor stated that this was not allowed and asked to be called if it happened. She stated her goal was to be factual and fair. In addition, she stated that reporting on council matters should include the facts and, if possible, opinions on both sides of an issue. This was a very productive conversation and I was very happy to hear in the change of direction of the Cary News. Our citizens deserve the news without spin and the editor of the Cary News has promised me that. Good for them.

Later Tuesday I received an announcement from the Governor that DB Global Technology will undertake a 250 job expansion over the coming two years at its software application development center here in Cary. The company plans to invest $9 million there through the end of 2016. New positions will include technology engineers, software developers and analysts. These are exciting times for Cary with 350 professional jobs announced just in the last two weeks.

Tuesday evening the Vice President of Operations for Epic Games gave me a tour of their facility. What a cool place. It reminded me of the SAS of 30 years ago and of Google. There is a slide from one floor to the next, a rock climbing wall, something to eat all the time, gym/showers, and a game room. All employees play an hour of games once a week which is required. I actually witnessed 4 teams of developers playing each other while I was there. The average employee age is in the upper 20s and I was probably the only guy in the building with gray hair. I am glad Epic Games is in Cary and they are very happy to be in Cary. They are continuing to grow and be successful. It will be interesting to watch how they expand in the future.

Wednesday I attended the 2015 Cary Chamber’s Annual Banquet. The guest speaker was Brad Wilson who is the CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. His remarks centered on health care and its accelerating costs. Some of the interesting points included:
• Life expectancy of our children will be less than ours for the first time in history.
• Our population continues to get more and more out of shape each year (diet and exercise). This is causing health care costs to increase.
• The Affordable Health Care Act has given more coverage to more people than ever. This is only one component of the health care costs.
• Today’s health care is a fee for service, which rewards volume, is probably the biggest reason for rising costs. As a result providing additional services because of mistakes or providing services that are unnecessary continue to rise.
• A suggestion to change the fee for service is to create service based system. That is, insurance will pay for a service and if the provider does extra services or repeats services then the provider absorbs the cost.
• Hospitals in this area can differ in costs dramatically. He gave an example of a procedure that cost $23,000 at one hospital and $46,000 at another for exactly the same service.
• Drug companies were also discussed. Recently a drug went from $15 to $700 because the company was bought out.
• The accelerating health costs are not sustainable.
His talk lasted about 20 minutes and I found it fascinating. It was an eye opener for most of us.

The highlight of the evening for me was presenting the 2015 Citizen of the Year award to our retiring town manager Ben Shivar. Here are the remarks I spoke from and followed for the most part:

“As Mayor, I am honored to recognize this year’s Citizen of the Year.
This recipient is the CEO of a major entity with over 1000 employees and runs a daily operation where customer service means always serving customers in a first class manner.
When you look at the achievements of this recipient, you will recognize that they extend beyond the call of duty. His job is not easy – but he has made his accomplishments look effortless. Under his leadership, the connection between government and business has been seamless. Accolades for our community are presented almost weekly and his contribution has been an integral part of these. We have all benefitted from his leadership.
Our recipient is now stepping down after 40 years in local government. He is an accomplished community leader, a Rotarian, husband, and father. And we call him friend. Ben Shivar started with the Town of Cary in 1995 as the Assistant Town Manager and in 2009, after a national search, was appointed as town manager – to Cary’s benefit.
Prior to coming to Cary, he served as the Chatham County manager for six years and as the town manager of Siler City for eight years. He began his career with the City of Greenville, NC and, over a period of five years, held the positions of planner, director of community development and assistant to the manager.
He is an accredited manager with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and a member of the North Carolina City and County Management Association (NCCCMA). He is also a past president of the North Carolina Community Development Association.
He earned certificates for Personnel Administration and Community Development Administration from the Institute of Government and is a 2008 graduate of the UNC School of Government’s Public Executive Leadership Academy.
He has been nominated by his Town of Cary colleagues to receive several Team Player and PEER (Promoting Extra Effort Recognition) awards for his collaborative work.
He has been an active Rotarian for 31 years, 18 as a member of the Cary Rotary for which he served as president in 2006-2007. In addition to Rotary, community activities have included participation in the Kiwanis Club, United Way, and the Boy Scouts of America.
<At this time I would ask current and former council members to come and join me.>
A native of Charlotte, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Master of Public Affairs degree from North Carolina State University.
Ladies and Gentlemen it gives me great pleasure to announce our 2015 Citizen of the Year – Ben T. Shivar.”

I was joined by council members Robinson and Yerha and former council member Adcock to present the award and take pictures. Council member Bush had the flu, council member Frantz was participating in a candidate forum, and Mayor Pro-Tem Smith was in Ireland. They all wished they could have been there to support Ben. All in all it was a great evening and a lot of fun.

Thursday started with a reception for retiring town manager Ben Shivar. He, along with his wife and two daughters, greeted employees and friends for over two hours. What a great show of thanks for a great public servant. Cary is blessed to have had him as a town manager and we will sorely miss him.

Our regularly scheduled council meeting began with a presentation from the mayor of Hsinchu, Taiwan which is one of four Cary sister cities. They presented me with beautiful glasswork, a map of Taiwan, and an invitation to visit. I hope I get that chance while I am mayor.

Next, as is customary with departing council members or staff, each council member gave parting remarks to our town manager. Afterwards, we read a proclamation recognizing his service. Then I had the privilege of presenting the “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine” from the Governor. Since its creation in 1963, it has been presented to honor persons who have a proven record of service to the State of North Carolina or some other special achievement. It is the highest honor that can be given to a civilian in North Carolina. I can’t think of anyone more deserving than our town manager Ben Shivar.

Following recognitions and reports council got into the main part of the meeting. We approved a lease for a café in the concession space at the Cary Theater. This required $15,000 of improvements using budgeted funds earmarked for downtown. No additional funds from savings (General Fund) were used. Unknowingly, the Governor signed a bill requiring 30 days’ notice for this type of lease before we voted. Therefore, council will hold another public hearing and revisit this item at our November meeting. Council also approved several other items including more townhomes on Holly Springs Road near the intersection with Tryon Road. I voted against this because of the excessive number of multi-family in the area. Our meeting concluded after about three and a half hours.

Friday I participated in what should be the next to last Metro Mayors legislative update. Some of the items of note in this update include:
• Moving all of next year’s primaries to March15th. The candidate filing period will open December 1st and close December 21st. This is on the Governor’s desk.
• A bill to put on the March ballot a question to borrow two billion for universities, community colleges, water and sewer loans, national guard facilities, and state parks.
• A bill giving counties a new half cent local option sales tax for public education and increases from a quarter cent to a half cent the county general purpose local option sales tax, both with referendum requirements. None of these are shared with cities.
• A bill to prevent Wake County from accessing state funds for light rail if they passed their half cent local option for transit which would virtually kill rail.
• A bill that makes it clear that local government can appropriate money for historic rehabilitation.
The meeting lasted about half an hour.

Saturday morning I joined employees of Dude Solutions for a benefit 5K run at Wake Med Soccer Park. They are a leading software-as-a-service provider of operations management solutions and recognized for world class delivery, support and a long-standing commitment to innovation. And despite over 2 ½ inches of rain leading up to the event, over 50 people from Dude Solutions showed up to raise money for Brown Bag ministries. Brown Bag ministries serve the homeless and hungry in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Thanks to the employees of Dude Solutions for helping such a great charity. In case you’re wondering, I ran the 5K in about 25 minutes which is not bad for a sloshy course.

Emails from citizens this week include a concern about a potential group home in MacGregor, a complaint about speeding in West Lake, a complaint about traffic delays in west Cary, a complaint about abandoned vehicles and trash on Adams Street, a concern about a proposed rezoning on Carpenter Fire Station Road, a complaint about speeding near East Cary Middle School, a complaint about an abandoned car on Highland Trail, and a complaint about yard waste not being picked up.

Next week’s activities include a joint meeting of Cary’s boards and commissions, a quasi-judicial hearing, a work session, and Oktoberfest.

The following are my answers to the Cary News Questionnaire:

1. BIO:
Age? 59
Occupation? Software Engineer at SAS Institute for close to 22 years
Education? Degrees in Mathematics from Augusta College and Computer Science from NC State
Political experience?
• Mayor: 2007-present
• Cary Town Council – At large: 1999-2003
• Information Services Advisory Board Chairman: 1998-1999
• Planning and Zoning Board: 1998
• Mayors Association Chairman: 2009
• Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board Vice Chairman: 2014-current
Community involvement? Past president of my neighborhood’s homeowners association; former tennis coach of two high schools; Sunday School teacher for more than a dozen years

2. What is the biggest issue facing Cary and what can the council do to address it?
Cary faces many issues annually and they are all important. Issues evolve and change over time so today’s important issue may not be tomorrow’s highest priority. The mayor, council, and staff need to be nimble enough to handle constant changes in priority. Currently, I believe Cary’s top issues are downtown and growth related issues in areas such as west Cary.
This question allows only one issue with a 200-word limit, and downtown seems to get more attention from the media, so I will briefly address downtown issues.
Downtown’s revitalization is ongoing. We need to keep this momentum by continuing to invest in downtown. Not too long ago we were at a point of having several dilapidated buildings and failing utilities which caused businesses and people to leave downtown. Ignoring these issues would certainly have resulted in blight and crime. Since that time we have made great progress. We are currently repairing and replacing aged infrastructure and improving streetscapes. Businesses are returning and as I write this I know of at least four business opportunities being discussed. I believe our downtown will transform during the next four years into a remarkable destination with a park and new library.

3. As downtown continues its revitalization, how and when should the town address growing parking needs that will come with new projects?
The progress and excitement of our downtown’s revitalization has created new businesses and generated lots of interest. Cary is involved in negotiations that could create public-private partnerships for structured parking. But because these are being negotiated, I cannot discuss details. One area that I can mention is the structured parking being considered for the new library site. But if we fund structured parking on that site, it is unlikely we will have enough funds to provide additional structured parking elsewhere in the near future. But one thing is for sure; additional parking is a high priority and is coming to downtown. It is also worth mentioning that currently the downtown area has several hundred public parking spaces but they are scattered. And let’s keep in mind that we are a bicycle-friendly community with recently expanded CTran service that can help reduce the need for parking.

4. How should the council balance encouraging development while meeting resident needs that accompany that growth?
Since I took office as mayor in 2007 Cary has grown at a rate of around 3% annually. Of course some areas of Cary are seeing a lot of development giving the impression that the growth rate is much higher. Cary works hard to create a high quality of life that attracts residents and businesses. Development interests are usually a result of the market and the economy both of which are doing well in Cary at the moment.
Property owners interested in development must ensure their proposals match the plan for land use and the zoning (type of development). If they do, then by right, they can develop their property without Council approval. If not, they go through a process that involves public hearings, recommendations from citizen advisory boards, and eventually a decision from council. In recent years, Council has typically approved the least amount of density possible in high growth areas. Council does not have the authority to stop growth nor should it. We do have authority to ensure adequate water, sewer, fire/police protection, parks, and some roads, which we take seriously.

5. What role should the council play as Wake County Public School System develops its school construction program?
It is important that the Wake County School System receive information about where students will be as soon as possible so that they can adequately plan school locations. For years, Cary has provided future growth information to the Wake County School System years in advance of anticipated growth. According to Wake County commissioners and Wake County School Board members they are playing “catch up” because of years of inadequate funding. It is the council’s job to make sure that the school board members are aware of acute situations such as the lack of middle schools in west Cary. In addition, we can continue to look for opportunities to partner with schools to reduce their construction costs such as shared ball fields and waiving road improvements. Of course, reducing school costs for the county could mean that Cary taxpayers foot the bill. The most important thing we can do regarding school construction is to advocate for our citizens to make sure that school siting and construction timing meet our needs. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our citizens in this area.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 4th. 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, September 21st, 2015

harold2011_small2A lot of my time this week was involved with the Cary Tennis Championships.

Monday and Tuesday I participated in the Cary Tennis Championships Pro-Am. Monday’s pros included Ryan Harrison who was a former top 50 player in the world. Tuesday I played with a collegiate player from North Carolina and with one from Duke. Later that evening, I watched a great three set match later that evening. Cary is very fortunate to be hosting such a great event and this tournament fits with our strategy to bring in high profile events at our three main venues.

Wednesday I attended the monthly meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Advisory Board’s executive committee (try saying that three times fast). In the meeting we approved a draft of the Transportation Improvement Plan through 2040. We also prioritized projects for bicycle, pedestrian, transit, and roads. Updates from NCDOT warned us that Morrisville Parkway will be closed for six months starting in February. This will be a huge inconvenience for Cary and Morrisville residents.

Thursday morning I attended the Cary Chamber’s candidate forum. It was nice being unopposed and being able to watch and listen to the candidates. Here are my observations about the District B candidates:
• In District B Don was the clear winner (disclosure: I endorse and support Don so I am biased).
• Mr. Lazzaro and Mr. Talton made several statements that were not factual, such as “Cary had a 3 ½ cent tax increase”. This makes me think they really don’t understand the town’s issues or they really haven’t been paying much attention.
• Mr. Talton seemed to have a personal issue with the Mayton Inn which opens in January. I believed that ship has sailed and it is time to move on.
• Mr. Lazzaro made interesting comments about reducing taxes that gave the impression that he is a tea party supporter. If that is what you like then he is your man. All of the other candidates in both district races focused on quality of life issues. Mr. Lazzaro gave the impression that the tax rate is his quality of life.
Here are my observations about the District D candidates:
• There was no clear winner in this forum.
• I really didn’t learn much from Mr. Rinehart except for his history in Cary. In this forum he seemed to be the least impressive.
• Ms. Cervania seemed to be an extremely intelligent person. I was impressed with her knowledge but she had difficulty articulating and didn’t have a command presence.
• Mr. George was probably the most polished in stating his thoughts. He basically backs what the current council is doing. It should be pointed out that he has a professional running his campaign and is endorsed by the Republican Party.
• Ms. Caggia did a great job answering questions. It was obvious her knowledge depth was greater than the rest. You would expect this from someone who currently serves on the Planning and Zoning Board.
• At this point in the campaign season for District D, I think that Cervania, George, or Caggia would serve the town well as a council member.
The chambers format was opening remarks, three questions, and closing remarks. On the 28th the candidates will face off in the Cary Theater at the Heart of Cary debates. See you there!

Thursday the Cary Chamber of Commerce and Wake County Economic Development announced that Align Technology has established its first East Coast operation in Cary. They plan to invest $4 million and create over 100 jobs in Wake County over the next five years. The Cary facility is one of only two locations in the country, which is headquartered in San Jose. Align Technology is a global medical device company that designs, manufactures and markets the Invisalign system, the world’s leading invisible orthodontic product, as well as 3D digital scanning products and services for orthodontic and restorative dentistry. The Company has numerous open positions in its North Carolina office, which are posted at http://www.aligntech.com/careers. Most of the currently open positions are in Research & Development and are focused on software product development. This is another great win for Cary which has brought over 10,000 jobs to town since 2008. Cary now has more people coming into town for work rather than leaving.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Association. Most of the meeting was spent reviewing the legislative budget that was passed and signed by the Governor. It was pointed out that our efforts helped protect our revenue from sales tax. The decision that effectively killed “light rail” was discussed. The concern was that light rail was not clearly defined and could be expanded to kill other transit programs in urban areas. Although the budget was passed there remains about a week of bills in the legislature. The mayors are stilled concerned about what they legislature might do during this week that would harm metro areas.

Saturday I gave welcoming remarks at the 2015 Dragon Boat Festival held at Koka Booth Amphitheater. More than a dozen dragon boats raced to the beat of drums on Regency Lake. Over a thousand people enjoyed cultural performances and delicious ethnic foods. Although I was only there for a short while, the event lasted all day. It was another event that emphasized our diverse citizenry and our town’s embrace of different cultures.

Sunday I attended the finals of the Cary’s first Cary Tennis Championships. I was able to witness the finals of both doubles and singles. What amazing talent! I was blessed to be a part of the awards ceremony. This was a great tournament for the Town of Cary. Things went very smoothly despite only having two months to prepare. Thanks to all the sponsors, staff and volunteers for making this happen. I am sure next year’s tournament will be even greater.

Due to the late finish of the Cary Tennis Tournament I was not able to attend the picnic for the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources volunteers as I had planned. I do want to thank the many volunteers that make that award winning department one of the best in the state. We are truly blessed to have so many citizens willing to step up.

In emails this week I received a questionnaire from Cary News. Unfortunately, the questions were delivered with less than three days to respond. Most entities give a least a week or two with questionnaires. Short time lines make it extremely difficult when the questions are leading and my time is limited with a full time job in addition to being mayor. Some of the leading questions implied that we weren’t thinking about downtown parking, we weren’t considering schools, and were encouraging growth. The biggest issue with their questionnaire is that they reserve the right to edit my answers. How unethical is that? Unfortunately fair and balanced reporting from our local newspaper disappeared a LONG time ago. If you would prefer to read an unedited version about what the candidates really have to say I would encourage all to read the Cary Citizen’s campaign coverage. It is much more in depth and unedited.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about code violations, a concern about trees, a complaint about a 911 response, a complaint about sewer line construction, a complaint about speeding, and a complaint about traffic in west Cary.

Next week will be a busy week and includes what looks like one of the longest council meetings since I have been mayor. Activities for next week also include the Cary Chamber banquet, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, and participation in a charity event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 27th. 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.