• Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Harold2015This was my first week back after a two week vacation with the family. We celebrated my 60th birthday and spent time at the beach.

Sunday after I returned to Cary I attended the Green Hope High School graduation in downtown Raleigh. I was able to witness over 600 graduates including two of my Sunday School students and several friends’ sons and daughters. Council member Bush, who has been a friend of mine before I was mayor, got to hug her son after he received his diploma. What a special time for them.

Monday I attempted to contact all council members for any questions or concerns they might have had about the regularly scheduled council meeting agenda. I was able to contact all council members but one and there were no questions. Later in the day I met with key staff members to go over the agenda. Since the agenda was short the meeting was quick. I predicted that council meeting would last about an hour.

Monday night the council held a work session on the budget to go over items that we asked to review with more information. At the work session the following decisions were made:

  • The downtown park Master Plan will be included in the budget. The $100,000 cost will be funded from the additional $25 million in “green” money from the General Fund.
  • The MacDonald Woods Park Restrooms will be included in the budget. The $300,000 cost will be funded from the additional $25 million in “green” money from the General Fund.
  • The Reedy Creek Road widening project will be removed. Council agreed to investigate installing sidewalks on Reedy Creek Road and Louis Stephens Road at the fall mini retreat. These will probably be funded by a bond referendum in the fall of 2018 if council decides to hold a referendum and if it passes.
  • A motion to master plan Cameron Pond Park and Morris Branch Park together for this year failed. Council members discussed this at length. Council members made points that a study may mislead the public into thinking both would be getting built and that the cost of such a study would be a waste of taxpayer dollars; All property for the Morris Branch Park has already been acquired and Cameron Pond would cost almost $2 million more; and it is possible that a future bond referendum could provide funding for the Cameron Pond Park.
  • A motion to master plan Cameron Pond Park instead of Morris Branch Park failed due to previously mentioned reasons.
  • Council asked about the missing Panther Creek greenway connection closest to the American Tobacco Trail. That cost would be $1 million and would be difficult since there are multiple property owners including the corps of engineers who would not easily sale their property. That section would also require 4 bridges.
  • Council also asked that “Fest in the West” be considered with this year’s operational cost. The parks director and management stated that some funding was possible but running the event would require additional staff of public works, police, parks, and other support staff.

At the end of the work session the council agreed that another work session on the budget was not needed. However, the council will review technical adjustments to the budget at the June 22nd work session and will vote on the budget at the June 27th  regularly scheduled council meeting.

Tuesday I met with the Deputy Town Manager for our weekly one on one meeting. The meeting didn’t last long and included discussions about the budget and the hotel/meals occupancy tax.

Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board (CAMPO). Most of the meeting was spent discussing issues with Locally Administered Projects Program (LAPP). This is used to prioritize and program all projects in the region that will utilize federal funding. Distributing this type of federal funding is the responsibility of the CAMPO and includes things like local roadway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects, and will result in an annual program of projects in the Transportation Improvement Program. Since it was established in 2010 the federal government has rescinded projects programmed that did not utilize funding. This has only happened once and resulted in a $50+ million dollar loss of funding. Currently most of the CAMPO projects that have been OK’d for funding have not reached a point they can receive funds. This leaves unobligated funds that are at risk of once again being rescinded by the federal government. Reasons for not being ready for funding include unexpected environmental approvals, lack of local funding, and project manager changes that result in requirements not being met. I plan to talk with our staff about projects that we may have at risk.

Thursday the council met for its first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. There were 11 consent items, 3 public hearings, and 2 discussion items. Most of the speakers spoke during the budget public hearing. The 2 discussion items were on the Cottages at Wellington rezoning. Council members stated that they weren’t excited about the Wellington proposal but acknowledged that the owner had the right to developer their property and there weren’t better alternatives. Council member Smith, who represents the district, voted no and all others voted yes. The meeting concluded after 36 minutes which is highly unusual.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro mayors. The meeting was spent going over current bills being considered in the legislature and the negative impact it will have on municipalities. It was also pointed out that the session is close to ending so local bills will need to be put on the fast track. Our meeting lasted about 30 minutes.

Saturday I attended a Project Phoenix event on Wrenn Drive. Project Phoenix is designed to help residents, owners and rental property managers keep drugs and other illegal activity off their property through education and community involvement. To find out more about project Phoenix go to https://www.townofcary.org/Departments/police/Community_Services/projectphoenix.htm.  This event included all kinds of activities for children and adults. It was well attended by about 1000 people from the neighboring apartment complexes. I introduced council members in attendance, gave a few remarks, and thanked those in attendance for being there and being involved in their community. I enjoyed talking to those present and stayed for about an hour.

Later Saturday I attended the ribbon cutting event for Gigi’s Playhouse in the Swift Creek Shopping Center. There were several hundred people in attendance. GiGi’s Playhouse is a one-of-a-kind achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. GiGi’s Playhouse offers more than 30 therapeutic and educational programs that advance literacy, math skills, fine and gross motor skills and more; all of which are free of charge. They serve infants through adults with programs that are created by professional therapists and teachers who generously donate their time and expertise. All programs are based on learning styles specific to Down syndrome, and customized to ensure individual success. GiGi’s Playhouse is headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois; with nearly 30 locations throughout the United States and Mexico. At this event I gave a few remarks along with my good friend Mayor Sears of Holly Springs. Then I toured the facility and had my picture made with the directors. I talked with a lot of folks who all seemed to be having a great time. I was too and even did a selfie, clowning around with the clown in attendance. Gigi’s Playhouse is a great addition to our community and will serve our residents well. If you can give your time and talents for this worthy cause I would urge you to do so.

I received lots of emails from citizens this week and while I was on vacation. Some of the topics included:

  • Changing the budget to include Cameron Pond instead of Morris Branch Park. (The Cameron Pond Park would serve 5,000 fewer residents and would cost about $2 million more.)
  • Saving Lake Crabtree Park. (This area belongs to RDU and not to Cary and Morrisville. While we will always advocate for our citizens and parks, it is ultimately their decision. And it is my belief they will eventually redevelop this area regardless of what we want. My hope is that this redevelopment is decades away.)
  • Several comments about problems with builders, contractors, inspections, etc. (These are operational issues which is out of the scope of the town council. I usually contact the town manager’s office with these and make sure they are addressed – which they always are.)
  • A complaint about contractors working on Academy Street.
  • A complaint about the Jack Smith Park delays.
  • A complaint about the lack of events in west Cary.
  • A complaint that Cary should widen Reedy Creek Road (This is a state road. Council discussed this at a work session this week. Council stated that we will address this at our fall retreat and would be interested in planning to install sidewalks.)
  • A complaint about fake trees for cell towers. (Unfortunately, we are very limited in what we can do to stop this. In the past the town has been sued for not allowing cell towers and lost.)
  • A request that all Cary and American immigrants be required to speak only English. (There were other ridiculous comments in this email but I stopped reading. Cary is a diverse community and we embrace our differences. It is only through mutual understanding and respect that we will reach our potential as a community and a nation. Period!)
  • A complaint about a proposal that would move the Ivey-Ellington House.
  • A complaint about the council considering brick on the parking deck being planned next to the new library.
  • A request for more bike lanes on major roads.
  • A concern for pedestrian safety at Kildaire and Lochmere Drive.

Next week’s activities include a Mayor’s Association meeting, a dinner with visitors from France, a council work session, staff reviews (council’s staff is the town manager, town attorney, and town clerk), and a quasi-judicial meeting.

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

• Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Harold2015This was my last week before a long two week vacation and it was a busy and eventful week.

As I do on weeks with regularly scheduled council meetings I called all council members to hear of any concerns or questions they might have with the upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all council members except one. None had any issues with the agenda.

Monday afternoon I met with management, legal, public information, administration and others to go over the agenda. There were no surprises and based on input from staff I estimated the council meeting would last about two and a half hours after the work session.

Later Monday I met with the two assistant town managers. We talked about a few current issues that included the upcoming budget work session.

Monday night I briefly attended the scholarship fund banquet for the late Alok Sharma. Alok was a friend of mine and many others. He volunteered in many different ways to make his community better. This banquet, paired with a golf outing, was to raise money for a scholarship fund in his name. The scholarships are for those planning on attending N.C. State who demonstrated leadership, are involved in extracurricular activities, have had solid work ethics and a commitment to academics, plan on being productive citizens, have demonstrated a commitment to diversity, and recognize the value of all people regardless of religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or ability.

Tuesday midday I was notified by the Human Resources Director that the council had received a signed contract from Sean Stegall as our new town manager. We spent many, many hours, days, and months searching for a town manager. This process took much longer than the council expected but we wanted to make sure that we found the right person to succeed Ben Shivar who retired last September. We all wholeheartedly believe Sean is that person.

The council and the citizens of Cary owe has HUGE thanks to Deputy Town Manager Mike Bajorek, Assistant Town Managers Russ Overton, and Tim Bailey. They did an incredible job keeping this town going for eight months, creating a budget, and put in an unprecedented amount of extra work in making sure that Cary’s high levels of service did not suffer. Thank God for these great public servants!

Sean Stegall will begin as the new town manager on August 4th. Sean is from Elgin, Illinois and has relatives in North Carolina.  He is highly qualified and has spent 20 years working in government, has an MPA (Master of Public Administration), and has spent time at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The council is very excited about his fresh ideas, his attitude about people, and his passion about the town. He has a great respect for Cary’s town staff and has met some of them earlier this year before applying for the job. I believe he has really done his homework and will hit the ground running. The council is confident that Sean has the right blend of education, experience, personality, and heart to lead this town to the next level of excellence and we are excited about this new chapter for our organization and our community.

Tuesday evening the council held a work session to go over the proposed budget. There was no council feedback on the proposed operating budget so staff will move that forward for formal council approval. The council did spend about an hour on the capital budget and was OK with most of it. We asked staff to come back with options on a couple of items. For example, the MacDonald Woods Park is the only park in Cary without restroom facilities. This is mainly because the park is in a flood plain. So the council asked staff to give options of what in the capital budget we can reduce to get funding to build restroom facilities at the park.

After the work session the council went into closed session to discuss two items. That lasted about 15 minutes.

After closed session I met with the Deputy Town Manager and Assistant Town Managers. I told them that the council had offered the town manager job to Sean Stegall and he accepted. Our meeting lasted about 15 minutes. After meeting with the managers I met with the Town Clerk, Public Information Officer, and the Human Resources Director. We talked about adjusting the agenda to allow a vote for the new town manager. We also talked about notifying the Town of Cary Directors, and issuing a press release after the vote at the council meeting. This meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

Wednesday morning I met with Chinese investors who are looking at Cary to start a hotel business. I talked about the town, its history, and what I see happening in the next few years. Then staff presented a slide presentation on the Imagine Cary planning process. I plan to meet with these investors again this summer.

Wednesday evening I taped the June episode of Cary Matters with Council member George. This was the last Cary Matters with the old format. The new Cary Matters should be more conversational and in different locations. Our taping lasted a little over 30 minutes.

Thursday started with a meeting of the town’s directors. I announced to them that Sean R. Stegall will be our next town manager and gave a little background information on him. My belief is that this great group of professionals will work hard to make Sean feel right at home and do whatever it takes during the transition period. We are so blessed to have the greatest staff in the state, if not the nation, right here in Cary.

Thursday afternoon the council held a work session on the integrated art that will be incorporated into the parking deck next to the new library. The artist presented some ideas and the council provided feedback on those ideas. The artist will come back with more detailed concepts in July.

Thursday night’s council meeting was a long one and an important one. There were 5 public hearings and 4 discussion items. The public speaks out had several speakers opposing the proposed Publix grocery story and shopping center on Carpenter Fire Station Road. The budget public hearing also had a lot of speakers asking for items to be included in the budget. Most of those requests were for park related items.

Under discussion items, the council deliberated on the Publix proposal and the majority felt that the proposal was as about as good as it was going to get. The alternative of denying and allowing apartments to be built was a concern of several council members. The proposal was approved with affirmative votes stating that it was much better than the original proposal.

Our next discussion item was the Wake County Occupancy and Prepared Food and Beverage Tax which drew strong words about how this tax is administered from me and the rest of council. FYI, Cary and Morrisville combine for about 40% of the revenue collected from this tax. Cary has seen very little return and Morrisville has seen nothing. In addition, the decision makers of these projects are Raleigh council members and Wake County Commissioners. A great deal of this money is going for operating costs for Raleigh venues (Cary pays its own operating costs). In addition, it is my understanding that there is a request from Raleigh to use these monies to build a soccer stadium in downtown Raleigh. That would mean taxes collected in Cary would be used to compete against our venue. That is ridiculous. There are some council members, including myself, that are considering asking the legislature to allow Cary and Morrisville to keep their collected taxes within our municipalities. If not, then we have almost nothing to lose if it is abolished. These are strong words but I believe it is time for a change. The ball is in their court.

The last discussion item of the evening was the appointment of the new town manager Sean R. Stegall. I made the motion and it was seconded by the entire council. We can’t say enough how very excited we are about him coming to Cary and the possibilities he will bring to our future.

After a closed session the council meeting adjourned around 10:30.

Cary received another accolade this week. This week, Cary ranked number one in driver safety in a study of the top 200 most populous cities in the United States according to NerdWallet. I just wonder how much safer it would be if people stopped texting while they drive. Just sayin…

Emails from staff this week included information about parks in the Cameron Pond area. Council received several emails this week on this topic. Staff explained that each year when planning for the budget they reassess all proposed projects. Their analysis of the Morris Branch and Cameron Pond Park sites indicated that there were approximately 11,000 residents living within a 1 mile radius of Morris Branch and 5,000 residents surrounding Cameron Pond Park. Their analysis also indicated that Cameron Pond Park would cost at least $1 million more to construct than Morris Branch.  In addition, the town would need to acquire an additional parcel to have complete frontage along Carpenter Fire Station Road before construction could start on the Cameron Pond Park. The good news for Cameron Pond residents is that the Town is investing $3 million in Mills Park and the extension of the Panther Creek Greenway. That greenway will extend from Mills Park to Cameron Pond. Both of these projects are designed and will go out to bid in a few months.  As a result Cameron Pond residents will have a greenway from their neighborhood to Mills Park as well as to the Mills Park Elementary and Middle Schools. The trail will also link to the pedestrian underpass located under Green Level Church Road, which will in turn link to the greenway that extends around Cary Park Lake.

Emails from staff also included an answer to a question about what will be going in the old Golden Corral site at the Centrum. It’s going to be a restaurant called BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.  I’m told it is not affiliated with BJ’s Warehouse. If you want to find out more go to http://sitesubplans.townofcary.org/BJsRestaurantAndBrewhouse_15-SP-051/planindex.htm.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • An email campaign about “defunding” Cameron Pond Park. (This park has not been master planned, designed, or funded. So it was not defunded.)
  • A complaint about someone’s neighbors.
  • A complaint that the council did not make a statement against HB2. (It is our policy to not issue statements or take positions unless the entire council agrees. A statement was issued soon after HB2 was passed.)
  • A complaint about bicyclists.
  • A recommendation to plant Dawn Redwoods in traffic circles.
  • A complaint about a proposed Publix.

Next week and the following week will be my annual family vacation. I will do my best to unplug and not answer the phone or emails. I should be back in town by June 12th.

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

• Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Harold2015This week was made up of long nights and a trip out of town.

Monday I talked with the Interim Town Manager about current issues impacting the town. A lot of the issues were focused on downtown construction and the planned changes. The intersection of Academy Street and Chatham Street is now closed nightly and on the weekends. The latest delay in construction is the need for 36 consecutive hours without rain on a weekend to remove existing materials at the intersection of Academy and Chatham. The hope is that all this construction will be completed by early this fall.

Tuesday I had the honor and privilege of playing the Augusta National golf course as a show of gratitude for volunteering in my 38th Masters Golf tournament. It rained the entire time but it was still fun. I was even able to crank a long drive (for me) of 270 yards. After I hit my big drive I told my playing partners, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” It was a memorable time and I was back in Cary by nightfall.

Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board (CAMPO). The board approved the FY 2016 program of Section 5310 projects. Afterwards there were a few public hearings and informational items. The board then recessed until the public hearing for the Wake Transit Plan and Interlocal Governance Agreement had been completed. That public hearing was held with the officials from the GoTriangle Board of Trustees and the CAMPO executive board. Mayor Bell from Durham presided. There were 34 speakers with 30 speaking in favor of the plan. Speakers who did not speak in favor of the plan included one who was against because it should be funded by private investors, another who believed it didn’t do enough transit, and two who were OK with the plan but had many reservations and concerns. After the combined boards listened to speakers for over two hours the public hearing adjourned.  Then the CAMPO executive board resumed its meeting and unanimously passed a resolution supporting the plan. The plan will be voted on by the GoTriangle board at their next meeting and then by the Wake County Commissioners on June 6th. If all goes as expected the plan will be on the November ballot for voters to decide.

Thursday the council met in closed session for over four and a half hours on the subject of the town manager search. We are still on schedule to appoint a town manager within the coming weeks.

Friday I had an interview with Elite Reports who works with Newsweek magazine. They are doing an in-depth report of North Carolina with a focus on innovation. Some of the questions I was asked in the interview included:

  • What is the town council’s role in innovation?
  • What is the importance of e-commerce in Cary
  • What other ways does Cary and the council use innovation in their processes such as energy education and other town activities?
  • How does innovation contribute to Cary’s overall economic performance?
  • What are the main areas of excellence in terms of innovation enterprises and research?
  • What sets Cary apart from other Triangle cities and American cities?
  • What impact does quality of life have on economic performance?
  • Contrast Cary and the Triangle’s success with the state as a whole.
  • What are you doing to create a business-friendly environment for investors/entrepreneurs?

The interview concluded after about 30 minutes. It is my understanding that this should be published in print and online by the first of July.

Emails from staff this week included a summary of all intersections that have been considered for traffic signals during the past 6 years. 40 intersections have been studied and only 13 met warrants for a traffic signal. It is important to understand that just because one or more warrants are met, a traffic signal may or may not be installed. The decision to install a traffic signal is made by NCDOT and is made only after it is determined that a traffic signal is the most appropriate solution. Those intersections meeting warrants that are funded include:

  • Cary Parkway and West Chatham Street: NCDOT funded
  • Cary Parkway and Old Weatherstone Way: Town funded
  • Carpenter Fire Station Road and Cary Glen Boulevard: Town funded
  • Green Level Church Road and Morrisville Parkway: Town funded

Other intersections that met warrants that are not funded include:

  • Cary Parkway and Norwell Road
  • Cary Parkway and Professional Park Place
  • High House Road and Bond Park Drive
  • High House Road and Jenks Carpenter Road
  • Maynard Road and Lake Pine Drive
  • Maynard Road and Old Weatherstone Way
  • Waldo Rood Boulevard and MacArthur Drive
  • Weston Parkway and Sheldon Drive
  • Yates Store Road and O’Kelly Chapel Road

It also should be pointed out that the minimum budget for each signal is around $250,000. A specialty or enhanced feature signal could push cost to about $300,000.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about the proposed downtown mixed use project.
  • A complaint about someone holding a training camp next to a residence.
  • A complaint about a proposed development in Carpenter Village.
  • A complaint that the town council illegally created a statement about HB2.
  • A complaint about the Sheetz proposal in Northwoods.
  • A complaint about the Academy Street construction.
  • A complaint about the intersection at Chapel Hill Road and Chesterfield Drive.
  • Concerns about Cameron Pond Park not being included in this year’s budget.
  • And a very lovely and very kind appreciation note for my service. Thank you!

Next week will be another busy week but is my last week before a two week vacation. It includes a regularly scheduled council meeting, a budget work session, speaking at a banquet, a taping of Cary Matters, and a work session with the parking deck artists.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Friday, May 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.

• Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Harold2015This week was full of events and included a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Monday I contacted all council members to hear their concerns and questions about the regularly scheduled council meeting for Thursday. There were only minor clarification questions. Later Monday I met with management, administration, legal, public information, and other staff to review the agenda items. The meeting was rather short since there were no public hearings and only two main discussion items. I predicted at the time that the meeting and the closed session would last about an hour.

After the agenda meeting I met with the Deputy Town Manager, and Assistant Town Managers to go over current issues. We talked about the Academy Streetscape project. The Dry Avenue section should be completely opened on Monday and the Chatham Street intersection will start seeing closings on Monday. We also talked about the state property and the hotel/motel tax.

Wednesday I gave remarks at the Senior Tennis Appreciation Day held at the Cary Tennis Park. I then joined the pro and two citizens in an exhibition. It was a lot of fun and Cary is blessed to have such a great facility.

Wednesday I participated in a meeting of the Cary-Morrisville Joint Issues Committee. Here are some of the notable items from the meeting:

  • The NC54 corridor study from Maynard Road to I540 has been completed by DOT. Staff has not heard the results of this study. Funding for the portion from Morrisville to I540 has been approved by the state. There is currently no funding for the Maynard Road to Cary Parkway portion.
  • The Western Corners development will be held to partial CO’s until all road improvements have been completed.
  • Schools and public private partnerships were discussed. Morrisville should get state approval for a Charter High School soon. This will open in 2017 and will be a Montessori-type high school.
  • The Wake Transit Plan will be presented to the county commissioners in June for a vote. It is anticipated this will be on the ballot for voter approval in the fall.
  • Morrisville is working with the county to get a community library.
  • Morrisville 911 calls go to Raleigh for dispatching. This is slowing their response times. Staffs are investigating having them use the Cary 911 center.
  • A proposal for 70 homes on Morrisville-Carpenter road is being considered. A discussion was held on potential developments on that road and the impact. It was decided that staff should present a comprehensive look at all east-to-west connectors at our next meeting.
  • Morrisville expressed concern about the Kellogg expansion. To date the expansion is planned to be capital improvements which will not add more employees and create more traffic.

Our meeting concluded after about an hour.

Thursday the council held a regularly scheduled council meeting. There were 21 consent items, no public hearings, 4 discussion items, and a closed session for two items. The public speaks out portion of the meeting had several speakers in opposition to the proposed Carpenter Village rezoning. Under discussion, the item that created the most council conversation was the proposed land use amendment and rezoning to allow a storage unit behind Mayfair Plaza (old Kmart site). Both were voted down by council with the majority of council members wanting it to remain part of the plaza in hopes of seeing that plaza redevelopment. As one council member put it “in a few years this could be the gateway to downtown”. The closed session, which can’t be discussed, included an economic development opportunity and a personnel matter on the town manager position. We are continuing the process of learning about candidates for the town manager position and are excited about finding out more about them in our pursuit to determine who would be the best fit. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the Metro Mayors to hear the weekly legislative update. Topics for this week included the NC House budget which is expected to go over to the Senate next week, a bill to limit the length of the short and long sessions, a bill to punish cities that continue to be sanctuary cities, and discussion about sales tax redistribution. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

Saturday started with remarks to about 100 people participating in the Purple Cloth 5K race. This is the 5th annual event and I have been lucky to attend them all. The purpose of the event was to raise money for Dorcas ministries. Dorcas is a Cary non-profit with a mission to provide crisis relief to area residents who seek stability and self-sufficiency through food and financial assistance, scholarships, training programs, referrals and an affordable thrift shop. After giving remarks I put on a number and ran the race. I finished right at 26 minutes. My time was 18th overall and 2nd in my age division.

Later Saturday I attended the 12th annual Ritmo Latino event in Cary put on by Diamante. Ritmo Latino means Latin rhythm which fits with Diamante’s mission of preserving, developing, and promoting of the culture, heritage, and artistic expressions of the diverse Latino/Hispanic population in North Carolina. I gave remarks along with council member Ken George who translated. We had fun with the translations. Then we surprised WRAL’s Leyla Santiago by asking her to translate the proclamation that I read. She did a fantastic job and was a great sport. The event was a great time of music, dance, food and fun and seemed to be enjoyed by everyone.

Mail items this week included a letter that I sent to the Mayor of Raleigh and the Chairman of the Wake County Commissioners about the Hotel/Motel tax. Basically, money is collected from municipalities and pooled to create and help venues promote tourism. The convention center in downtown Raleigh is an example of how this money is being used. Over the years Cary has received less than what it has collected which was the reason for my letter. Here is that letter:

Dear Mayor McFarlane and Chair West:

Thank you and congratulations on creating on open and informative process to review the Interlocal Agreement for the Occupancy and Prepared Foods and Beverage Tax. Good Information has been shared, which has been extremely helpful for our Town staff, many of whom are new to the process. We are excited about the revenue outlook and the opportunity to do new things to enhance the region, and we are confident the Town of Cary can continue to play an important role in the effort’s overall success and economic impact.

As you continue with the significant work that lies ahead, we thought it might be helpful to share observations for your consideration as the process continues.

While we agree that the dedication of the remaining 85 percent of the available funds to support the Convention Center was needed to fund and start the new facility, now that this has been accomplished, we believe a new model needs to be investigated for the future. As revenues have increased faster than inflation and are projected by the model to be similar going forward, it is not clear whether continuing the high level of funding using a fixed percentage is either necessary or appropriate. Our recommendation and request is to look at all qualifying contributing facilities’ needs for continued support to establish a fair, balanced, and holistic plan. As you know, many Wake communities, including Cary, have contributing facilities that also need attention. One of the more significant issues we are currently facing in Cary is the seemingly constant improvements needed to keep the WakeMed Soccer Park competitive for tournaments while also serving the needs of the Carolina RailHawks, now under new ownership/management. For a frame of reference, a quick summary of anticipated needs includes:

WakeMed Soccer Park – Stadium Expansion – $28 Million

  • Stadium Expansion from 10,000 to 15,000 Seats/Suites – $15 Million
  • Stadium Amenities (WiFi, Concessions, Ribbon Board Display, Lights, etc.) – $5 Million
  • Videoboard replacement/upgrade = $1 Million
  • Stadium Access
    • Construct 3rd entrance to Cary Towne Blvd – $4 Million
    • Parking Expansion and Shuttle Improvements – $3 Million

The second point I would like to raise is the Business Development Fund. While this has been a popular and worthwhile program, it seems inequitable to continue focusing solely on the Convention Center. The need to cover costs to attract certain events exists across all of the venues in Wake County. Many of the tournaments and events in Cary have similar challenges. We would welcome a discussion about which types of events and facilities could be eligible followed by the appropriate funding level.

Next, and similar to the Business Development Fund, is capital maintenance for qualifying contributing venues across the county. Just like Memorial Auditorium and others currently covering capital maintenance without assistance, Cary clearly has similar needs. Both Cary and Raleigh have been covering these types of costs, and I’m sure others have as well. Our goal is for an equitable, balanced arrangement to be established that considers all qualifying contributing facilities. Some items estimated for the short term capital maintenance in Cary include:

Sports Venues – Capital Maintenance/Renovation – $29 Million

  • Cary Tennis Park
    • Clubhouse and 16 Tennis Court renovation – $7 Million
    • Additional Seating and Amenities for Tournaments – $4 Million
    • 12 Additional Outdoor Tournament Courts – $6 Million
  • USA Baseball
    • Conversion of 2 field to Artificial Turf $2 Million
    • USA Merchandise Store and Maintenance Yard Expansion $2 Million
    • Stadium Videoboard $1 Million
  • WakeMed Soccer Park
    • Conversion 4 fields to Artificial Turf Fields – $6 Million
    • Cross Country Awards Pavilion – $1 Million

Finally, I want to raise an issue about operations costs. None of the Cary’s facilities generate revenues adequate to cover all operations costs, although some perform better than others. I understand that the Session Law allowing for the levy of the tax has limitations. Still, a discussion about ways to manage operations costs could be worthwhile. Just understanding the experience of others could be helpful. Our current annual sport venues subsidy is roughly $1.6 million.

Having served the citizens of Wake County beside you for many years, I know firsthand your commitment to work in partnership toward a better future for all our citizens, which is why I’m so optimistic about the outcomes that would come from our discussing these items. Please also know that in addition to talking about these important points, Cary does plan to submit new projects for funding consideration at the appropriate point in the process.

The Town of Cary looks forward to a continued bright economic development outcome through use of these funds.

Best regards,

Harold Weinbrecht, Jr.

Mayor

I look forward to working with Raleigh and Wake County to expand and promote our venues to everyone’s benefit.

Emails from staff this week included the construction and activity report for April. Here are some of the items of interest:

  • Town staff approved 57 townhomes, 167 single family dwellings, and about 50,000 square feet of non-residential.
  • A sketch plan for the Cary Town Center was approved.
  • Permits were issued for 2 multi-family units, 146 single family dwellings, and 53 non-residential.
  • The average single family dwelling was 3773 square feet as compared to 3215 square feet in 2012.
  • Cary accounted for 14.6% of all permits issued in Wake County, second only to Raleigh.
  • CO’s were issued for 71 multi-family units, 62 single family dwellings, and over 245,000 square feet of non-residential.

To view the interactive development map go to http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/Planning_Department/InteractiveDevelopmentMap.htm.

Another email from staff this week included interesting information about Cary’s residential makeup. So in case you were wondering Cary has:

  • 470 single family detached developments
  • 113 townhome developments
  • 67 apartment developments
  • 19 condominium developments

Staff noted that some developments combine to make neighborhoods. That is, a neighborhood may be made up of townhomes, single family residential, etc.

Emails from citizens included:

  • Questions about the failing Cary Town Mall.
  • Questions about Chapel Hill Road and Chesterfield Drive.
  • Complaints about the Carpenter Village proposal.
  • Requests to help with permits for a Down Syndrome Achievement Center.
  • Comments about various Cary greenways and sidewalks.
  • A request from St. Michael’s to help with parking overflow.
  • Criticism of council for our position on HB2. (Council only takes unanimous position and avoids political issues at the state and national level. Are purpose is to avoid dividing the community and focus on issues in which we have control.)
  • A complaint about a comprehensive plan amendment to allow residential in Wellington.
  • A complaint about a truck with “Cannabis means business” parked at a shopping center at Tryon and Cary Parkway.
  • A complaint about the fake cell tower tree off Tryon Road near Cary Parkway.
  • A complaint about neighbors holding a “football camp” in their yards.
  • A request to return the amphitheater name to Regency and remove Booth. (I along with several council members stated that we are not interested)
  • A complaint about local vendors not being able to get into Lazy Daze.
  • Multiple requests to attend events.

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a special called meeting of the council, and a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.  

And on a personal note the Weinbrecht’s are excited that our youngest daughter got engaged this week. Congratulations Cara!

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

• Sunday, May 08th, 2016

Harold2015This week was not as busy as last week which was a nice change.

Monday I met with town management and budget staff for a preview of the budget. The purpose of these sessions is for staff to get last minute individual feedback from council members before presenting the budget to the entire council and the public. While I can’t go into the details of what will be presented in the budget, I can say that it will be another tight year. Also, our tax base growth is slowing which may mean higher taxes in future years. Capital projects will continue to be a challenge and my guess is we might see a bond referendum within the next two or three years. My budget session lasted a little over an hour.

After the budget session I met with the deputy town manager and assistant town managers to go over current issues. Our discussion didn’t include any new information.

Tuesday the council met in closed session to discuss the vacant town manager position. Since I am not allowed to discuss what goes on in closed session I can only say that we are still on schedule to hire a town manager within the next few weeks.

Wednesday was made up mostly of private meetings.

Thursday started with me speaking to over 50 people at the Heart of Cary Monthly membership drive meeting. I gave them my vision and thoughts about downtown and downtown projects. Here are some of my opinions that I expressed:

  • I believe there is interest on council to fund the design of the final phase of Cary’s downtown park in this year’s budget and that construction funding for the final phase will be in a future referendum.
  • I believe that new library and deck will be online in 2018 and that council will put out an RFP for the old library site asking for a mix of uses.
  • I believe that if the Walker Street tunnel occurs it will become a major downtown thoroughfare. As a result that street will see lots of redevelopment such as 4 and 5 story residential building.
  • Chatham Street will continue to redevelop and we have had LOTS of interest from potential businesses. This includes bringing jobs to downtown.
  • I believe that north of Chapel Hill Road wants to organize to redevelop. If that redevelopment occurs it will be a significant mixed use project.

My talk lasted about 20 minutes.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the NC Metro Mayors to review legislative actions for the week. Items discussed included:

  • A bill to repeal the light rail cap was introduced and will be voted on Tuesday.
  • The House agreed to a total budget of $22.225 billion which is a 2.26% increase.
  • A bill was introduced to use the excess lottery proceeds to a grant program for counties based on its need and ability to generate sales tax and property tax revenues.
  • A bill was introduced to increase the state income tax standard deduction from $15K to $17.5K.
  • A bill was introduced to dedicate car rental funds for ports and airports.
  • A bill was introduced to set the minimum wage to $9/hour.
  • A bill was introduced to set the minimum income tax rate to 5.5%.
  • HB2 was discussed. I find it hilarious that the legislative majority is complaining about federal government overreach when that is exactly what they have been doing the last several years to municipal government. Talk about your “pot calling the kettle black” …

Our meeting concluded after about 20 minutes.

Each week I receive several cards and letters. They range from formal invitations, to events, to criticism about something the town is doing. Mostly the letters are criticisms. Rarely, will I receive something nice in the mail. This week was one of those weeks. A few weeks ago I received a request from a little girl in Indiana to send a card representing Cary for her project to contact someone from all 50 states. I received a thank you card with picture and art from her this week. It is beyond cute and made my day.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about Academy Street construction.
  • A compliment about Academy Street construction.
  • A complaint about a railroad crossing.
  • A complaint about the potential movement of the Ivey-Ellington House.
  • A complaint about St. Michael’s parking overflow.
  • Complaints about the Carpenter Village proposal.
  • A request to extend Cary’s greenways.

Next week’s activities will include a Teachers Award ceremony, a Cary-Morrisville join issues meeting, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and several Saturday events.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 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, May 01st, 2016

Harold2015This week was another long week with three long nights and a Saturday work session.

Monday I called around to all council members to hear their concerns and questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was only able to contact Yerha, Frantz, and Smith. There were no major concerns expressed about the items on the agenda. Later Monday I met with management, administration, finance, legal, planning, and engineering to go over the agenda. I predicted that our council meeting would last about 3 hours.

After the agenda meeting I met with the Deputy Town Manager and the two assistant town managers to go over current issues in town. We discussed the Jordan project coming up at a work session, downtown construction, issues with construction around the Mayton Inn, and a few other items.

Monday night my wife and I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha for a VIP dinner at the Pre-Opening night of Hickory Tavern in Parkside Commons. They are ranked one of the top sports bars and I thought the experience was great. The food was fantastic and the management and wait staff outstanding. I am looking forward to my next visit.

Tuesday I met with the Cary Chamber’s Leadership class to talk about my duties as mayor. After explaining my role I answered a few questions mostly about western Cary not feeling connected to the rest of Cary. 

Tuesday night the council held a work session on Imagine Cary and a downtown proposal. The council approved staff recommendations for the Imagine Cary Chapters on Shop, Engage, and Serve. The only significant change to the documents was that art should be integrated in town infrastructure and buildings rather than just incorporated.

The council also approved a staff recommendation to partner with Northwoods Associates on a $46 million dollar private investment. The proposal has 55,000 to 75,000 square feet of office and retail, 188 multi-family units, a parking deck of 466 spaces (222 public spaces), and the movement and restoration of the Ivey Ellington House. The First Baptist Church is also a  partner in this development proposal. The town’s investment would be $4.1 million which the council voted to use out of the $33 million available in fund balance. The council also agreed to move the Ivey-Ellington House to allow an entrance to the development off Chatham Street. This was after a passionate plea by Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha to keep the house at its current location. The council asked that staff work with the State Historic Preservation to determine the best location for the Ivey Ellington House. Council also agreed that the parking deck should be screened from view especially from Academy Street. The work session concluded after about two and a half hours.

Wednesday I attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce Elected Officials reception at MacGregor Downs Country Club. There were about 100 people in attendance. I gave welcoming remarks and introduced the council who were all in attendance. Almost half of the attendees were elected officials or running for elected office. There were representatives from the US Senate, US Congress, State offices, NC Senate, NC House, Wake County Commissioners, Wake County School Board, and judges. Council members left the event after about an hour and a half for a closed session meeting.

The council then went to the Mayton Inn to a conference room to go into closed session to discuss the town manager’s position. We met for about three hours and are still on schedule to make an appointment.

Thursday the council held their last regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were five public hearings, four discussion items, and a closed session. The public hearing that had the most comments was the Hanna public hearing which proposed to build a house looking structure to hold a medical office, allow some retail sales, and be the resident for Dr. Hanna. Nearby neighbors voiced concerns about potential multi-family housing and traffic. The four discussion items were noncontroversial and were approved unanimously. Once returning from closed session the council adjourned. The meeting lasted three hours.

Friday I participated in the NC Metro Mayors Coalition meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to give a legislative update of the first week in session. Discussed topics included visiting the legislators, economic development, the light rail cap, House Bill 2, the governor’s budget, and a few other bills. The meeting lasted a little over half an hour.

Saturday the council, staff, and consultants met for three hours to finishing reviewing the Imagine Cary draft that will be presented to the public. First the council reviewed the LIVE chapter which is about fostering strong and sustainable neighborhoods. Next the council reviewed the MOVE chapter which is about an efficient transportation system. This was followed by the SHAPE chapter which was about managing future land use including redevelopment and infill. Finally the council reviewed the ACT chapter which is about moving the vision to reality. Council will review examples of how the plan works in the July timeframe. The public will have two separate weeks in the July-August time frame to review and provide their suggestions. The plan is expected to be completed by year’s end.

Emails from staff this week included a public service announcement about construction at the intersection of Academy Street and Chatham Street. Beginning May 16th crews will close the intersection nightly Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. and all day Saturday. They will re-open the intersection to traffic at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and Sundays. Concurrently, crews will be working to re-open the Kildaire Farm Road and Walnut Street intersection in all directions from Kildaire Farm Road to Facility Avenue. With that intersection re-opening, Academy Street traffic flow will change to one-way northbound between Dry Avenue and Chatham Street. Work is expected to be completed this fall.

Another email from staff included the first quarter report from 2016. Here are some notable items from the report:

  • Cary’s population as of April 1st is 156,531 which is a 2.44% increase in the last 12 months.
  • Cary’s incorporated limits include 58.84 square miles.
  • 14% of Wake County’s new single family homes were in Cary during this period.
  • AT&T, Google, and Time Warner are installing fiber in Cary. The town is not involved but helping citizens resolve concerns and complaints.
  • The town purchased its first automated leaf collection truck which uses one person instead of three.
  • First quarter water demand averaged 15.9 million gallons. This is a 0.6 million gallons more than last year at this time.
  • There was a 72% increase in violent crime over the last year. Those were mostly robberies and aggravated assaults (robbery from 5 to 12 and assaults from 10 to 15). Property crimes and other crimes were down for the last 12 months.
  • Fire/rescue calls increased 34.48% during the last year.
  • Participation in environmental events increased 9% in the first quarter of this year.
  • The town’s SPRUCE program and Adopt-A-Spot had 141 events that collected 5,592 pounds of litter and 42 trees.
  • The town refinanced GO Bonds that will save Cary taxpayers $980,000.

To view the entire report, go to http://townofcary.uberflip.com/i/673033-2016-1st-quarter-report.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Comments about Chesterfield Drive and Chapel Hill Road.
  • More Carpenter Village emails against a developer proposed rezoning.
  • A complaint about the way I listed Carpenter Village emails in last week’s blog.
  • A complaint about getting tickets for the amphitheater.
  • Comments about a proposed Publix in Amberly.
  • Comments about a newly proposed downtown development.
  • Comments against a proposed rezoning on Kildaire Farm Road.

Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include a budget preview meeting, a meeting on the town manager search, and a talk at the Heart of Cary Association meeting.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 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, April 24th, 2016

Harold2015This week included several meetings and events.

Monday started with meeting the two Assistant Town Managers to go over current items. Most items were follow ups from previous conversations.

Later Monday I joined all the mayors in Wake County at our monthly Wake County Mayors Association meeting. The meeting started with a presentation from WakeMed, Duke Health, and UNC Rex Representatives. The purpose of their presentation was to get the Mayors Association and municipalities to consider adopting a resolution in support of healthcare. The resoltuion stated that encouraging the Wake County delegation to act on behalf of businesses leaders, and in turn support healthy communities, will allow providers like them to continue to deliver high-quality, accessible health care. Our meeting concluded after about two and a half hours.

Tuesday the council met for two quasi-judicial public hearings. The first hearing was to consider an exception for two required access points for the subdivision located in Chatham County. I along with majority of the council agreed to this exception because a subdivision to the south, that has already invested $7 million, will be required to make the connection to this subdivision to complete their project. So it appeared the exception will be temporary. The second hearing was whether or not to allow a storage facility on highway 55 in the Carpenter Historic District. Although this was approved by the majority of council, I voted against it because I felt there were much better uses than having another storage facility along highway 55. It’s unfortunate, that the Highway 55 part of Cary is becoming so industrialized. In my mind we need to have better vision in this area.

Tuesday morning I did an interview with PBS News Hour on the topic of HB2. This was the full blown interview with two cameras and a producer. They even powdered my nose. After the setup we talked about HB2, the impact on Cary, and what we are doing to mitigate the impact. We also talked about the demographics and economy of Cary. The interview is scheduled to air next week.

Wednesday afternoon I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board. CAMPO is a federally mandated planning organization responsible for the continuous and comprehensive transportation planning process in Wake County and parts of Franklin, Granville, Harnett and Johnston Counties. CAMPO is responsible for carrying out an annual work program that includes updating the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (a seven-year project programming schedule) and the Long-Range Transportation Plan (a minimum twenty-year forecast of projects and programs). At this meeting there were two items of interest to Cary. First, the board approved a required letter which would allow Cary to request a TIGER grant for the Walker Street tunnel project under the railroad tracks. TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) is a supplementary discretionary grant program included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Beginning with the Recovery Act and continuing through the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 appropriations processes, Congress has provided DOT with eight rounds of competitive grants totaling nearly $5.1 billion for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. Since 2009, the TIGER program has awarded 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, including 134 projects to support rural and tribal communities. Applications for the eight round of TIGER grants are due on April 29, 2016. The town believes that the Walker Street project scores well for this grant. The meeting also included a public hearing on rail crossings from Raleigh near Meredith College to Maynard Street in Cary. This plan for the crossing changes are unfunded and will likely remain that way for years. But this plan is important because it will dictate how future development around those areas is allowed to proceed. The board approved the staff’s recommendation after hearing concerns from several attendees.

After the CAMPO meeting I met with two artists who are planning integrated art for the downtown parking deck which will be next to the downtown park and new library. They had a lot of great ideas and are meeting with council members to hear about their vision and their concerns. I am looking forward to what concepts they bring back.

Wednesday evening I attended a political meeting of one of Cary’s legislators. It is important to keep in touch with our delegation and establish a relationship so that they better understand the town’s needs.

My last event Wednesday was a private dinner.

Saturday I attended the Children’s Day Festival celebration at Sertoma Amphitheater. This was put on by the American Turkish Association of North Carolina and Sister Cities. I gave remarks and read a proclamation before visiting the booths at the event. The event was so crowded that parking was a problem but it was a great event none the less. The event coordinators are looking at different locations for next year.

Saturday afternoon I attended the ACC Tennis Championships semi-final matches at the Cary Tennis Park. The most exciting match was #1 nationally ranked Virginia against #3 nationally ranked North Carolina. Virginia rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3. The matches were announced by Patrick McEnroe on ESPN3.

Saturday night I had the joy of attending a dinner with ACC officials, Patrick McEnroe, and other USTA board officials. McEnroe told stories of the times when he was playing and coaching in the Davis Cup. Now he spends his time announcing for ESPN and working with the USTA. It was great to have him in Cary and he was very gracious with the dozens of fans who asked for pictures and autographs.

I received lots of emails this week about my personal comments on HB2. Almost all shared by beliefs and one adamantly opposed my comments with multiple emails arguing in favor of the legislative majority. The reason for the multiple emails was to help me “understand concerns other than your own.” Yep, I think I got that the day the legislative majority passed HB2. Thanks though.

Other emails from citizens included:

  • An organized email barrage against the Carpenter Village rezoning proposal. (BTW, filling up council member’s mailboxes with comments that say the same thing really doesn’t help a cause.) Hopefully, those folks will work with the developer for a win-win solution.
  • A complaint about the lack of homes with solar options.
  • A complaint about crime in Carolina Preserve.
  • A complaint about the intersection at Chapel Hill Road and Chesterfield Drive.
  • A complaint that the area around Cary Town Mall is not bike friendly.
  • A question about placing banners at a church.
  • Invitations to several events.

Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include two chamber events, a long work session on the Imagine Cary planning, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and other meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 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, April 17th, 2016

Harold2015Monday was my first day back after spending most of last week in Augusta, Georgia working at the Masters. Other than getting wind blasted for 12 hours a day, it was a fantastic tournament and I was blessed to have the opportunity to volunteer for my 38th year.

Monday afternoon I attempted to contact council members to hear their questions or concerns about the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. There were very few questions and most of them were about the Land Development Ordinance amendments being proposed by staff. Later Monday I met with management, administration, public information, legal, and finance to go over the agenda. After our meeting I predicted the council meeting would take about an hour.

After the agenda meeting I met with the Interim Town Manager and Assistant Town Managers to go over items. They pointed out that a parking lot that will be built on Cedar Street near the new Bond Brothers Brewery is anticipated to be much less than expected. Savings could exceed $100,000. We also talked about several other issues including the Academy Street construction which remains a major concern to many people. Staff assured me that we are “leaning” on the construction firm as much as possible.

Following the meetings with the town manager’s office I participated in a meeting about a potential diving facility in Cary. This has been in the news recently. At this meeting we were given a presentation and discussion followed about next steps. The diving facility is a long way off from becoming a reality but I am hopeful.

Tuesday morning I received information about Deutsche Bank’s decision to delay their expansion efforts in Cary due to HB2 commonly referred to as the bathroom law. After a couple of hours passed I was contacted by several members of the media including ABC, CBS, the Cary News, and PBS. I talked with all of them except PBS who wanted talk to next week.

Tuesday all of the council members except Robinson were present at we presented our agenda to the Cary delegation of the NC legislature. In attendance from the Cary delegation were Senator Barringer, Representatives Adcock, Avila, and Hall. Downtown manager Ted Boyd presented the legislators a summary of changes in the downtown. I followed him by going over our legislative agenda. First I talked about our advocacy principles and followed that with requests for this upcoming short session which included:

  • Seek a local bill to amend the town’s charter to:
    • Allow the town to sell property subject to covenants or restrictions
    • Allow the town council to delegate authority to the town manager to execute utility easements or agreements on town-owned property
    • Clarify the town’s authority to condition site plan approval
  • Seek a local bill to authorize the town to donate service animals to their handlers
  • Support legislation to protect Jordan Lake as a drinking water supply
  • Support legislation to amend the Iran Divestment Act of 2015 to eliminate the requirement for local governments to require contractors to document their exclusion from the Iran Divestment List.

To read the principles presented to the delegates see http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/townmanagersoffice/Legislative_Program/2016_NC_Legislative_Agenda.htm?PageMode=Print. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.

Following the meeting I did an interview with ABC11 on the Duetsche Bank announcement and HB2. My comments were similar to what I had said earlier in the day.

Wednesday I had a phone interview with Bloomberg News. Their initial interest was HB2 but then we discussed the legislative majority and how their actions have harmed metropolitan areas. We talked for about half an hour.

Wednesday night I joined council members Bush, Smith, and George at the graduation ceremony for the town’s School of Government class. The School of Government is basically a “citizen’s college” designed to increase understanding of how and when the public is involved in Town processes and decisions. A major goal of the class is to spur greater community involvement. The course has been offered annually since 2003. This last class session focused on the Imagine Cary planning process. After the session I, along with the council members, handed out graduation certificates. Then we adjourned and talked with class graduates. All comments were positive and one graduate told me that all Cary residents should take this class. I agree.

Thursday was a busy day for me. First the council held a work session on Imagine Cary. We spent most of the time discussing downtown subareas: East Chatham Gateway, North Academy, Central Chatham, South Academy, West Chatham Gateway, and Supporting Neighborhoods. In general the council agreed with recommendations. We also spent ten minutes reviewing the Eastern Gateway. We confirmed that we wanted this to move forward ahead of the Imagine Cary process since there is so much interest in this area.

After the work session I met with culinary exchange students from our sister city Le Touquet, France. I introduced myself and tried to pronounce their names. Then we posed for pictures together.

Thursday night the council held their first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month.  There were three public hearings and four discussion items. The public hearing for the Carpenter Village PDD rezoning had several speakers mostly opposed to the proposal. The discussion items did not generate much discussion from council and were all passed unanimously. Our meeting concluded after about one and a half hours.

Friday I issued a statement on behalf of the entire Cary Town Council on HB2 which was as follows:

“The Town of Cary is a warm, friendly, and thriving community with a flourishing economy and a strong job market. As the 7th largest municipality in the state, we embrace the gifts, talents, and experiences that each of us has to offer. It is through mutual respect and understanding that we can reach our full potential.

“While we and our staff work to understand the legal and practical effects of HB2, we want to take this opportunity to assure our citizens and others that Cary is a welcoming community that is dedicated to the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection for all.

“The Town of Cary continues to be a great place to live, work, play, raise a family and do business.”

The Cary Town Council usually stays out of state and federal political matters and does not pass resolutions on such things. We would prefer to focus on local issues. However, since this matter directly impacted our citizens we made the statement. While the council was not unanimous on whether to voice opposition or support HB2 we were unanimous in supporting our statement which embraces diversity. The statement was agreed on by all council members. They were each contacted and read the statement before it was released.

Here are my personal thoughts on HB2:

“Based on comments I have read, most people don’t seem to understand the definition of a transgender person. Basically, a person who is transgender identifies themselves as the opposite sex from the sex they were born. They usually appear as the opposite sex and may still have genitalia of their birth sex; and that is nobody’s business but their own as that does not constitute a threat to anyone. With the new HB2 law you may now see what appear to be males in the women’s bathroom and what appear to be females in the men’s bathroom.

I believe this whole ordeal was purely political and citizens across the state are and will continue to suffer as a result of this political gamesmanship. It started with Charlotte making a political statement by passing an ordinance. Then that was followed by the legislative majority passing HB2. Rather than addressing the issue directly with Charlotte the legislative majority once again passed a one-size-fits-all law that is having negative impacts on everyone in the state. Political leaders are elected to SERVE citizens not play political games. Too bad the legislative majority doesn’t understand that. Shame on all of those involved (on both sides) for generating this issue!”

Saturday the council spent nine hours interviewing town manager candidates. We were all pleased with the candidates we interviewed and I believe we are on scheduled to appoint a new town manager in the coming weeks.

Emails this week included:

  • A complaint about fiber installation.
  • A complaint about the lack of a scooter race track.
  • A concern about cut through traffic as a result on the Morrisville Parkway closing.
  • A complaint about the town’s public information release that included a quote from Ringo Starr on why he cancelled his concert in Cary.
  • Several complaints on not wanting a rezoning to be approved in Carpenter Village.
  • A comment about median plantings.
  • A complaint about water leaking in the Cary Senior center garden.
  • A complaint about AT&T’s lost service and our lack of making them fix it sooner (we have no authority to make AT&T do anything about service).

Next week will continue to be busy for me. Activities include a meeting of Wake County Mayors, an interview with PBS, a quasi-judicial meeting of council, a meeting of the executive board of CAMPO, a meeting with artists who are doing integrated art in our parking deck, and speaking at the American Turkish Children’s Day festival.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 24th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, April 03rd, 2016

Harold2015This week was a slow week with mostly small meetings and a few events.

Monday I met with staff to go over the Academy Street streetscape project. This project is now several months behind and if not finished by the end of June could result in penalties to the developer. To make up time the developer proposed closing Chatham Street and the Academy Street intersection for several weeks. To my knowledge this is not gaining any support from council and will probably not happen. While I would love to see this project move forward quicker it is not worth shutting down a major intersection especially if there are no guarantees from the developer that the work would be done sooner.

Later Monday I met with town management to go over issues. There are several issues related to new businesses coming to downtown. Hopefully those can be resolved and we can announce these new businesses soon.

Tuesday I met with the Ticket and Corporate Sales Executive for the Carolina Mudcats. He let me know that Sunday, September 4th would be Cary Community Night. I encouraged him to talk with the Chamber and other business leaders to help get the community involved. He also asked that I throw out the first pitch which I, of course, accepted. Although it is a long way off, I hope to see you there.

Wednesday I attended the ribbon cutting for Union Bank in Cary. This is the first branch location in Wake County. Speakers included the bank president, board members, and other employees. I gave the official welcome to Cary. Joining me from council was Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, council member Robinson, council member Smith, and council member George. After cutting the ribbon a DJ played while people enjoyed hors d’oeuvre, beer, and wine. I stayed about an hour before attending a private dinner with a guest from France.

Saturday morning I joined several volunteers and council member Robinson at a litter sweep at Panther Creek High School. The weather was drizzly at the beginning of the sweep and turned into a downpour about an hour into the sweep. Although my crew was thoroughly soaked, we did manage to pick up several bags of trash. Most of which seemed to be fast food cups and packaging. Thanks to all of those who participated throughout the day to help keep Cary litter free, clean, and green. And if you want to get involved in keeping Cary beautiful please contact Sarah Justice and Sarah.Justice@townofcary.org.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• Questions concerning the use of Wake Med Soccer Park.
• Concerns about a Sheetz gas station in Reedy Creek Plaza.
• Concerns about plans for a road on a Macedonia Road property.
• A request for a bathroom in the MacDonald Woods Park. (This park is built in a flood plain so we can’t add a bathroom there. However, the town is looking at other options.)
• A concern about downtown bicycle parking.
• A concern about the non-coordination of fiber optics competitors. (The town has no authority to require them to work in the same areas at the same time to minimize disruption. But it would be nice if we did.)
• Several requests to participate and speak in events. Some as far away as October.

Except for a brief meeting with the town manager next week will be spent out of town on vacation working at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. So I won’t be posting a journal entry.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 17th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Harold2015This week was a holiday week so most meetings and events were in the first half of the week.

Monday began with calls to council members to hear any questions or concerns about Wednesday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was only able to contact half of the council members and of the ones I contacted there weren’t any concerns. Later in the day I met with management, administrative, legal, planning, and public information to go over the items on the agenda. We believed that most of the meeting time would be on the public hearings. The agenda review meeting ended after a short amount of time.

My next meeting Monday was with the Interim Town Manager and the Assistant Town Managers for my weekly one-one-one town manager meeting. We discussed issues with construction and potential businesses that are interested in opening in downtown. It is my hope that I will be able to announce a new business opening in downtown soon.

My third meeting on Monday was with town staff to go over a downtown development proposal. This proposal will include property from the town, the Baptist Church, and the developer. If all things work out we should see the development from Chatham to Academy Street include retail, high end multi-family, and office with a parking deck. This project has been in the works for about ten years and there is still a long way to go for this to become a reality. We will see.

My last meeting of the day was with the Wake County Mayor’s Association. All mayors were present except the Mayor of Rolesville. The meeting was held in downtown Raleigh and the only real business worth mentioning was a discussion on a resolution by the Wake County Mayor’s Association regarding the Wake County Transit Plan. Our meeting concluded after about 3 hours.

Tuesday I attended the annual volunteer award banquet for Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources. There were several hundred volunteers in attendance and the banquet was a lot of fun. I made a few remarks and then was followed by our featured speaker, Steve Malik. He spoke of several changes that he is making to the team and fan experience. He believes his roster changes will allow the RailHawks to compete for the championship. He is creating family zones at the stadium and things that would be attractive to millennials including a swimming pool, food truck rodeos, and other interesting ideas. His talk was very interesting and I am excited about the RailHawks this year. After the featured speaker the awards were handed out. While there were only a dozen or so handed out, I believe all of our volunteers are deserving. They give the gift of their time and talents for the benefit of others. That is a significant reason for Cary’s success and why we are consistently ranked as one of the greatest places to live, work, and play in America. God bless them all!

Wednesday the council held the second regularly scheduled meeting of the month. Usually our meetings are on Thursdays but this one was moved up because of the holiday week.

Before the council meeting I met with Boy Scout Troup 244 from Peace Presbyterian Church. There were about a dozen scouts there to earn their community merit badge. I explained briefly the duties of the mayor and then answered a few questions. We then had our picture made in front of the town seal.

Later Wednesday the council held its second regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. The meeting included a review of the biennial survey, 11 consent items, 8 public hearings, and 2 discussion items.

Before the Public Hearings the council was presented the results from the 2016 Biennial survey. The Town of Cary has been using its biennial survey since 1998 to help provide guidance for serving its citizens. This year’s survey had over 400 citizens participating in a survey that took about 15 minutes. 89.0% of the numbers contacted were wireless. Some of this year’s results (letter grade equivalent of “A” or higher) include:
• Police response time, fairness and courteous, with response time rated the highest ever earned by the department;
• Courteous, fair and competent Fire Department;
• Increased satisfaction with the Town’s curbside yard waste and loose leaf collections; and
• Increased satisfaction in the Town’s cleanliness and appearance of public areas like parks, greenways, streets and medians.
The 2016 survey also revealed that:
• Nine out of 10 citizens (97.6%) believe that the quality of life in Cary has remained the same or improved over the past two years
• A majority (58.7%) of residents feels that Cary’s tax rate is “about right”
• The most important issues identified by Cary citizens are growth, transportation/infrastructure, crime/safety and schools.
• Over three-fourths (79.4%) have visited downtown Cary in the last year
• Roughly one in 10 citizens have someone living in their home who is legally disabled
Just like Gallop, Nielsen, and other international pollsters, consultants for the Town utilized scientifically developed sampling techniques and statistical analysis that allow the survey results to be generalized over the entire population even though not everyone in Cary is called. The margin of error for the 2016 survey was +/- 5 percent.
To read the full report see: http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Public+Information+Division/Biennial+Survey/2016+Biennial+Survey/2016biennialsurvey.pdf.

Three public hearings generated the most comments. A public hearing on the town’s Community Development Block grant had speakers stating their cases for why funds should be spent on their organizations. There were several negative comments at a public hearing for a proposed Sheets gas station at Maynard Road and Reedy Creek Road. This current proposal seems to have little support. A proposal to put a permanent cover over the Silverton pool had several speakers talk mostly in favor of the proposal.

One of the discussion items that generated comments from council was whether or not to consider changing the town seal. The request was to not change the components but to change the look to give it a more current look. The majority of the council voted in favor of keeping it the way it currently is.

The council meeting concluded after about two and a half hours.

Thursday I chaired a meeting of the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility Advisory Committee. This committee is comprised of the mayors and managers of the Town of Cary and the Town of Apex. The purpose of the committee is to advise the operating agency on all policy matters and select the independent consultant. At this meeting we accepted the proposed fiscal year 2017 Capital and Operating Budgets for the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility.

I next chaired a meeting of the Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory Committee. This committee consists of the mayors and town managers of Apex, Cary, and Morrisville, and considers matters which relate to the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities including raw wastewater pumping and conveyance facilities. At this meeting we accepted the proposed fiscal year 2017 Capital and Operating Budgets for the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities. We also received information on the annual audit procedures. These two committee meetings are usually to formally approve staff proposals. While committee members ask questions they are usually at a high level. That is, there isn’t enough knowledge on our part to question the various components needed for a water or wastewater plant but we do question the proposals and how they fit within the planned budgets.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• A request for housing homeless veterans.
• A complaint about Academy Street construction.
• A complaint that the delay of Imagine Cary is impacting the ability to develop property.
• A complaint about covering a swimming pool in Silverton.
• A complaint about overcrowding in Cary.
• Several complaints about a proposed Sheets gas station in Northwoods.

Next week will be a light week for me. It includes private meetings and a ribbon cutting.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 3rd. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.