• Sunday, April 16th, 2017

This was my first week back after spending the week in Augusta, Georgia working at the Masters Golf tournament. This was my 39th year volunteering at the tournament.

Monday I called council members to hear of any questions or concerns about Thursday’s upcoming agenda. I was able to contact all council members and there were very few minor questions. Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda. Are meeting was very short and I anticipated the council meeting on Thursday would be less than an hour.

Later in the day I, along with Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, met with the town manager for my weekly one-on-one. This week we spent most of our time talking about legislative action that is harming Cary or costing Cary money. Here are some of the legislative items:

  • H436 Local Government/Regulatory Fees: These are impact fees charged to developers for the impacts they create with their projects. If they are not paid by the developer then all Cary taxpayers will have to pay for their impacts. This could have a $11.6 million impact on Cary annually. We would have to raise our tax rate about 5 cents to make up the difference.
  • H340 Special Allowance for Firefighters: This creates a new benefit for firefighters similar to the current special separation allowance for law enforcement. While it is a fantastic idea, the legislature does not plan to fund it. That means it will cost Cary taxpayers an estimated $2 million over the next 5 years.
  • H310 Wireless Communications Infrastructure Siting: This eliminates local authority to control the placement of small cell wireless on light poles and in public right of way. If you thought cell towers were ugly you haven’t seen nothing yet.
  • S94 Elections Transparency: This would make local elections partisan starting in 2019. Now that is a brilliant idea especially since partisan elections are working so well at the state and national levels. NOT! It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, etc. when it comes to keeping people safe, putting out fires, building parks, providing water/sewer, and other municipal services. Why they would want to make local elections partisan is beyond me.
  • H64 Municipal Elections in Even-Numbered Years: This would move local elections to a ballot already crowded with everything else instead of odd years when people can focus on the local issues each candidate presents. Another woefully bad idea.
  • H507 Land-Use Regulatory Changes: Makes zoning enforcement more difficult creating incentives for developers to sue municipalities. Limits local governments from requiring property for transportation improvements that go along with development. Another bill to help developers at the expense of everyone else. At least we know who is contributing to the legislators’ campaigns.
  • S434 Amend Environment Laws 2: Would essentially cut Cary’s stream buffers in half. Keep in mind that stream buffers protect our drinking water supply. Nothing like polluting an already polluted drinking source more. Another unbelievably dumb idea.
  • S296 Road Improvements Near Schools: Limits types of road improvements a municipality may require of a school. NCDOT would be required to make the improvements. Another bad idea since NCDOT can’t come close to keeping up with road demands now.

If any of these bother you PLEASE contact your local legislators. You can find them at http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/counties/counties.pl?county=Wake.

Tuesday I participated in what I hope will be a regular event, “Yak and Trak”. There were only a small number of people who participated but I believe that is because it was spring break and a week night. The first part of the event was a kayak and canoe trek around Bond Lake. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed all the wildlife and scenery. Three of us were in kayaks and two were in canoes. Afterwards we walked part of the Black Creek greenway and trails around Bond Park. My Fitbit measured a little over one and a half miles. It was fun doing the exercise and talking with folks about various topics. I hope you consider joining me in the future.

Wednesday I participated in the “topping off” ceremony at SAS. This is a celebration of the last beam being put in place. I was able to sign the beam and have my picture made in front of it before it was hoisted in place. It was a great day for SAS and for Cary with over 200 people in attendance. It will be the tallest building in Cary once completed. This building also signals the health of Cary’s largest employer, SAS, and the health of Cary. We are so fortunate to have such a great company like SAS in Cary providing high paying professional jobs to our citizens and citizens from neighboring municipalities. They are one of the reasons why Cary is such a great place to live, work, and play. SAS’s success is our success and we look forward to many more years of success and our partnership with them.

Wednesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha in a meeting with the owner of the Triangle Aquatic Center known as TAC. He shared his plans for the next 10 years which included three phases of expansion. Phase 1 would include parking to replace mall parking. Phase 2 would include additions to the existing TAC structure. Phase 3 would include a new facility with new pools. He said that once these three phases are completed TAC should be the largest swim facility in the country. We look forward to working with TAC to resolve issues to help make their vision a reality. Our meeting lasted about an hour.

Thursday I joined several council members at the Page-Walker to visit with exchange students from our sister city in Le Touquet. They are here for a few weeks working in various restaurants in the area. I will be traveling to Paris and Le Touquet on April 23rd.

Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were 4 consent agenda items, 1 public hearing, and 2 discussion items. Our public hearing was about the proposed development at two corners of Cary Parkway and Evans Road. Several proposals have come to the council over the last decade and have been withdrawn or denied. This proposal would have a retirement facility next to the neighborhood and apartments across the street. Most of the speakers did not have an issue with the retirement community but council members and speakers had concerns about the apartments. This will now go to the Planning and Zoning board boar their recommendation. Council held a brief discussion on the 2017 fiscal year road improvements before unanimously approving. In the final discussion item council decided to invite people to make wishes and throw money in the new downtown fountain. Money collected from the fountain will be used for our Parks and Recreation youth scholarship fund.

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

April Meeting Combo

Due to a light agenda for the Council meeting on April 27, staff is proposing to move the April 25 work session to the 27th immediately after the regular meeting. As a sneak peak, the April work session will include a Legislative update and discussion around the Downtown Park. Your calendars have been updated accordingly.

GPS Added to Police Radios

GPS Location Services have been added to all police portable radios. This service increases officer safety by allowing the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) and police staff to visually see field unit locations in the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system when officers are outside their vehicles. Cary is the first agency in North Carolina to implement this technology.

General Assembly Update

Lana and I continue to closely track the bills filled this session. We have updated our website with a listing of legislation of concern for our Town. This list includes the impact fee bill, municipal elections in even-numbered years, and special separation allowance for fire fighters.

Transit Planning Advisory Committee Meeting Update

TPAC met on Wednesday to review public and agency comments received regarding the draft FY18 Work Plan, draft Wake Transit Implementation Financial Policies, and proposed modifications to the FY18 Work Plan based on public comments received. The Town has no proposed modifications to FY18 projects. The most common comments received included:

  • Many existing riders asked that transit agencies consider increasing peak service, midday service, evening service and weekend service on existing routes.
  • Many residents expressed concern over the impact bus rapid transit might have on gentrification and displacement along New Bern Avenue and in other parts of Raleigh.
  • Many comments asked for consideration using alternative fuel buses (most specifically electric buses) in order to lower local emissions and improve public health.

The most common Cary-specific comments included general enthusiasm over existing service, expanding service and adding a park-and-ride facility in West Cary, and requests for routes on NC-55, Cary Parkway and Weston Parkway. Expanding the GoCary service area to include new routes will be part of future Work Plans.

It is anticipated that the TPAC will recommend a final FY18 Work Plan for CAMPO and GoTriangle Executive Board approval at their April 25 TPAC meeting.

Google Introduces New Installation Technology

Google recently proposed using a micro trenching (MT) installation method for their fiber network. MT involves cutting a four-inch deep trench where the asphalt meets the curb, installing the fiber, then back-filling the cut with a sealant material. MT significantly increases fiber installation speed and eliminates the need to dig up yards during installation; both items mitigate installation inconveniences on citizens.  Additionally, MT mitigates the chance of utility strikes. MT was used during Google Fiber installation in Austin, TX. 

The Town of Morrisville approved a pilot neighborhood for Google to use MT for installation. The Town of Cary also used this opportunity as a pilot and did not locate any utilities in the neighborhood. On March 23, Town staff met Google Fiber staff in Morrisville to see the MT installation process. We are happy to report that no utilities in the neighborhood were hit during installation. 

Town staff is working with Google Fiber to determine an area in our Town limits to pilot Google’s micro trenching fiber installation method to see short term impacts, and consider long-term impacts.

Cary Hosts Annual Triangle Bike & Pedestrian Workshop

Last Friday, over 80 bicycle and pedestrian advocates, planners and designers gathered at the Cary Arts Center to talk about recent improvements, plans, experiences, and ideas for improving and increasing bicycling and walking in our Triangle community.

Thanks to Council member Lori Bush for providing the welcome and for setting a great example by riding her Elf to the workshop! After a morning of great speakers and community updates, several attendees participated in a bicycle tour on the Black Creek Greenway and a walking tour of downtown.

Fayetteville v. EMC et al

This week, Cary and Apex jointly filed a response in EMC and DEQ’s appeal of the Administrative Law Judge’s decision in the Fayetteville IBT challenge. Please contact Chris Simpson if you have additional questions.

Project PHOENIX Egg Hunts

The Project PHOENIX team hosted the first Egg Hunt this week. Children of Chatham Forest were invited to decorate bags before being released to search for the prize-filled eggs. Fire fighters were on hand to make the day even more special. Approximately 35 residents were able to participate. Several other Egg Hunts are planned at various PHOENIX communities throughout the month.

WCPSS Cablecast Pause

This week we were contacted by the Wake County Public School System and asked that they be removed from our cable programming while they work on technical improvements. They will notify us again when they are ready to return to our channel’s schedule. In the meantime, citizens can access WCPSS information via their social media channels.

 

Emails from staff this week included the following update on street projects:

Currently we are in the process of acquiring right-of-way for the remainder intersections, which include the following…

  • Cary Parkway at Evans Road
  • NW Maynard Road at High House Road
  • Kildaire Farm Road at Cary Parkway

Construction on these intersections should start in the Fall of 2017.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • An information request for stormwater control in Hillsdale Forest
  • A complaint about Cary’s downtown not being vibrant (we have been working on this for years and we are getting there)
  • A concern about people running the traffic signal at Walnut and Sturdivant
  • Comments for and against the proposal at Evans and Cary Parkway
  • A concern about signage at the downtown post office

Next week’s activities include a meeting with the state property representatives across from the mall, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, several private meetings, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board, a meeting with a homeowners association, and a meeting of the metropolitan mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 23rd.  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.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, April 02nd, 2017

This was the first full week after the inter-city visit and it was a busy one.

Monday I called all council members to get any concerns or questions about Thursday’s agenda so that staff can be prepared. There was only one minor clarification needed by a council member. Later in the day I met with key members of staff to go over items on the agenda.

After the agenda meeting I met with staff members about the Cary’s transit plan and how it ties in with the region’s transit plan.

My last meeting of the day was with the owner of Carolina FC, Steve Malik, about their future plans. He is a wonderful guy and easy to talk to. It is his intention to bring MLS soccer to this area and build a stadium. Cary is not out of the running for that stadium. My understanding is that MLS franchises are given every two years. He believes he will get a franchise at least within the next two, four, or six years.

Tuesday I joined a special meeting of Cary’s Economic Development. The meeting was called to talk about a new Cary branding effort. And while most people think that branding is about a logo, Cary will be focusing on the message. This is especially important to change the perception of Cary as a “bedroom community”, “a suburb of Raleigh”, and a “containment area of relocated Yankees”. Add to that all the negativities of HB2 and its discrimination and you have quite a large task. At our meeting the town manager presented an outline of how to proceed with rebranding. Our first tasks will be to set our objects and to answer the questions why. In the upcoming days the town manager will talk with each council member individually and get their ideas about why we should rebrand. Then he will present those findings at a future work session where council will agree on the “why” of the effort. The good news is that a lot of the research from the Cary Community Plan can be used. Our meeting concluded a little over an hour.

Wednesday started with an on camera interview with ABC11 regarding HB2 and the impacts of losing the NCAA. This was prompted by the NCAA deadline that was imposed which would have resulted in North Carolina losing championships for several years. My comments in the interview were that I still had hope that the legislature would do the right thing for North Carolina and repeal HB2. This of course was not what they wanted to hear and thus it did not make the airways.

Later Wednesday I gave opening remarks at the 14th Cary School of Government class. The first class was in 2003 and included council member Lori Bush. This class was designed to increase understanding of how and when the public is involved in Town processes and decisions and spur even greater community involvement. Included topics are how municipal government functions, what services are provided, and how citizens can become involved. Students get a behind the scenes look at the town government structure, culture and decision-making. This class is held once a year and is a must if you want to be civically involved.

Thursday the North Carolina legislature passed action, which was signed by the governor, to repeal HB2 (for the most part). I had several requests for interviews and issued the following statement:

“Today our State government took an important step by coming together to find a way forward from HB 2. On behalf of the entire Cary Town Council and the 160,000 who call Cary home, I want to thank them for putting North Carolina first and bridging what seemed at times to be a vast and insurmountable partisan divide. No compromise is ever perfect, but if we can focus on and learn from the success of actually finding compromise in this case, I believe we can all have increased optimism of what we will be able to accomplish together in our shared future.”

It is my hope that we can all move forward and begin to welcome back businesses, the ACC, and the NCAA.

Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting lasted about two and a half hours. It began with recognition of our long time planning director, Jeff Ulma, who retired on Friday. He joined the Town of Cary in 1996, when Cary’s population was about one-half of today’s population of 160,000.  As planning director, he has left his imprint on many of the Town’s plans, development regulations and special initiatives, the latest of which is the new Cary Community Plan. The plan, which looks ahead to the year 2040, sets out a long-term vision, policies, and strategic actions to guide Cary into the future. Unanimously adopted in January by the Town Council, it is the result of several years of work, unprecedented community input, and dozens of meetings and workshops conducted under the Imagine Cary process. Other accomplishments include the preparation of the Town’s current zoning ordinance; the Northwest, Southeast, Town Center and Southwest area plans; the Affordable Housing Plan; Architectural and Site Design Guidelines; the Chatham/Cary Joint Land Use Plan; and even personally drafting food truck and backyard chicken regulations. He is a big reason Cary is so well planned and has such a high quality of life. We will certainly miss him.

The rest of the agenda included 9 consent agenda items, 6 public hearings, 4 discussion items, and a closed hearing. The public hearing on fiscal year 2018 Community Development Block Grant had several speakers thanking the town for past support and asking for future support. What is interesting about that program this year is the new administration which might reduce or eliminate the program. If that happened it would be a significant hit to several non-profits that serve our community. Under the items for discussion the council approved a waiver for a waiting period because the proposal was introduced and withdrawn during the old land use plan. It will come back to us later for a rezoning request. Council also approved items related to the water treatment plan, the new water storage tank on Kilmayne and the upgrade of the water storage tank on Maynard, and naming rights for the stadium at the Wake Med Soccer Park. It will be called the Sahlen stadium named after Sahlen Packing Company, Inc. The town had previously tried to sell the naming rights for there were no takers. This contract will allow the town to collect $100,000 over the next five years.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina metro mayors to get a legislative update. Of course the repeal of HB2 was the lead topic. Other topics included the metro mayors’ visit with Transportation Secretary Trogdon, meetings with legislators, bills introduced on tax deductions, a bill that would move tax collected from rental cars to the highway fund from the general fund, a bill for sales tax redistribution, and a bill allowing providers to have total control of putting communication equipment in right-of-ways. Our meeting lasted a little over half an hour.

Saturday I participated in the ribbon cutting for Midtown Square. Here is an excerpt from my remarks that I spoke from:

“… Cutting the ribbon to this project today is a testament of what great redevelopment looks like in our downtown. It is wonderful to see all the active downtown redevelopment projects which is making our downtown more of a destination area. And there is more to come, especially with our downtown park which is now opened and has several activities already planned. Multiple people are already taking in the view of the fountain, the activity center, and just enjoying a day downtown.

While learning about this development, I came across a neat fact about the midtown logo – the locomotive. As we come up on our incorporation date of April 3, 1871, it is important to note that without the train, Cary would not be here. The Midtown logo is a representation of the Cary Train that will be revealed later this year with the year of our incorporation date, 1871, reflected on the locomotive. So stay tuned for another celebration when the Town welcomes the locomotive online.

In closing I would like to thank the Jordan Family, Jordan Gussenhoven and George Jordan, for their commitment to downtown. …”

 

The town manager’s report this week included:

Council/Staff Retreat Report

We have put together the Council/Staff Retreat Report, which is the first step in reporting our process on the issues and ideas discussed at the retreat. The document includes a look back at the retreat sessions, shares Council’s list of priorities, and provides some next steps to guide our future progress. We are interested in finding out if these high level summaries of the different sessions, as well as the list of Council priorities, match what you heard and syncs with your recollection of our conversations.

Town Hall Day

Lana, Allison and I joined Council member Jennifer Robinson at the NC League of Municipalities Town Hall Day at the General Assembly on Wednesday. Town Hall Day hosts elected officials and managers from across the state to speak to legislators about issues important to municipalities. Similar to last year, Lana organized a Wake County delegation luncheon to provide a convenient space for all delegates to meet with their municipal partners. Staff and elected officials from Morrisville, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Wake Forest and Zebulon participated. We were able to interact with Senators Alexander and Chaudhuri, and Representatives Adcock, Holley, John and Williams at the luncheon. Members of our group also had the opportunity to speak with Senator Barringer and Representative Dollar.

School of Government Kick Off

On Wednesday evening, the 14th School of Government class, made up of a diverse group of 26 Cary citizens, convened for the introductory session. The participants first got to hear from almost all Council members about how important it is to have engaged citizens and provided background to the class on how they first got involved with Town government. Then, I had the opportunity to play professor and teach about our Council-Manager form of government and share my views on the role of local government. Chris Simpson provided context from the Town Attorneys Office and facts around topics like open meeting laws. Ginny Johnson closed the evening with prizes and information about the Town Clerk’s role supporting Council and managing the Town’s Hillcrest Cemetery.

Supporting the STOP ACT

Assistant Police Chief Tracy Jernigan accompanied the president of the Association of Police Chiefs, Mike Yaniero (Jacksonville PD) to the Attorney General’s Office on Thursday in support of the STOP Bill that is before the legislature. This bill would be great legislation to begin addressing the opioid issue in North Carolina. The AG, Josh Stein, specifically asked if Cary PD could attend since we had done some media on the issue as well as specifically referenced Cary in his comments.

Google Fiber Install at USA Baseball

On Tuesday, Google’s Gigabit Fiber Service was installed at the USA Baseball National Training Complex at Thomas Brooks Park. This service provides high speed internet connectivity for facility and USA Baseball staff. It also offers video streaming capabilities for events and the foundation for public Wi-Fi service. Cary was selected to be the first municipality to test out this new service offering.

Regional Assistance During Water Main Break Response

Earlier this week, staff responded to two separate water main breaks along Waldo Rood Boulevard. Both breaks occurred along a major water transmission main and temporarily shut down sections of a 30-inch and 36-inch main for repair operations. This resulted in a bottleneck in the water system that substantially reduced our ability to adequately supply water to meet the demands of the Central Pressure Zone.

Cary staff called upon Raleigh to provide water under our mutual aid agreement. Raleigh staff responded within 30 minutes of the call and immediately worked to implement a water transfer to Cary through the Trinity Road Pump Station. During the repair, Raleigh supplied approximately 6.5 million gallons of water to the Central Pressure Zone of Cary.

Cary also called upon assistance from Holly Springs, which has an interconnection with Cary’s Southern Pressure Zone. Cary staff recently tested the Holly Springs interconnection by sending water to Holly Springs. This week, Cary and Holly Springs reversed the flow direction and Holly Springs sent approximately 1.4 million gallons to Cary during the repair operations.

We are very thankful for our interconnections with neighboring utilities and especially grateful to our neighbors who provided both timely and vital assistance to us during these critical water main repair operations.

TCAP Meeting Debrief

At their meeting on Wednesday, the Transit Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC) voted to release the Wake County Transit Plan (WCTP) Master Participation Agreement for local governing board consideration. The Master Participation Agreement is a long-term agreement between all regional partners that documents the high level ground rules for implementation of the Plan and will allow participation in Plan revenues. This action now permits each WCTP partner to bring the Agreement to their governing board for review and this will be a staff report for Council in the near future.

Downtown Park Conditional Certificate of Occupancy

Last Friday, the Town received conditional certificate of occupancy and therefore substantial completion of the Downtown Park. Additional site amenities are at the warehouse and are scheduled for installation by Public Works now that we are at this stage. With the conditional CO in hand and given how many people are out there enjoying it, wanted to let you know that staff will be getting together to plan the celebration event being sure to set it on a day when all Council members are available. Look for information in the next few weeks from Ginny.

Annual Water Disinfection Change Coming to an End

The annual water disinfection change that is conducted each March is coming to an end. The disinfection change to free chlorine combined with extensive water system flushing of the Town’s 1,035 miles of water system pipelines is an important part of the Town’s comprehensive water system maintenance program. The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility will resume normal disinfection starting on Monday, April 3.

Recognitions

I’d like to give a pat on the back to everyone involved in this week’s water main break repair operations. We work with amazing professionals who executed a quick response by setting up a command center and mobilizing the technical expertise in the field. It took a coordinated ONECary effort with leadership from Utilities, Public Works, Fire, and PIO. Thanks to everyone’s work, we can say that not a single citizen lost water throughout the break and subsequent repairs. Huge accomplishment!  

And over the past week we experienced a number of notable retirements. We’d like to recognize the career and dedication of Jeff Ulma, Planning Director; Ray Boylston, Transit Services Administrator; Assistant Police Chief Scott Davis, and Houston Hinton, Solid Waste Division.

 

Staff’s February Construction and Activity report, Planning and Development report, and construction activity report included the following interesting notes:

  • The average square footage was 4140 square feet compared to 3903 square feet in 2013.
  • Cary had 14.1% of the county’s single family permits which was 2nd to Raleigh which had 22%.
  • Cary’s permits were up 97% from the previous month
  • 3 development plans were approved and included a storage facility, a church expansion, and a sidewalk connection.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • An email campaign complaining about smoking in public places.
  • An email campaign complaining about not supporting the Atlantic Coast pipeline (not a town function – we have a policy not to get involved in political matters unless is has a direct impact on us and 100% of the council supports thee action)
  • Compliments on the downtown fountain.
  • A complaint about the bridge at Bond Park Lake (already scheduled for repair).
  • A complaint about the intersection of Yates Store Road and Carpenter Fire Station Road (This is a state intersection and state roads. We are working with them on possible improvements).
  • A request and complaint that we won’t make a public statement against a house bill to cap school size (again not a town function and would take all the council to take such an action).

Well, that is all for this week. I will spend the next week on vacation in Augusta, Georgia. My next post will be on Sunday, April 16th.  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.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Monday, March 27th, 2017

This week was spent taking care of my wife after minor surgery and an intercity visit to Scottsdale, Arizona.

On Monday my wife had minor surgery that went well and I spent the time until Wednesday being with her.

Wednesday I joined the entire council and 50 others in a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. Topics included rebranding, education, transit oriented development, and redevelopment. Scottsdale has significant similarities with Cary such as branding their high quality of life, distinguishing themselves from a major city (Phoenix), and redeveloping old areas of town. They also have many differences such as an unstable council which is divided, 8 city managers in 6 years, and being known as a tourist destination.

Thursday morning the delegation toured SkySong in Scottsdale. This was a mixed use redevelopment project of an old mall. The mix of uses was nice but what made the redevelopment stand out was the architectural structure (similar to the Denver Airport). One of the points taken from this visit was that redevelopment can integrate architectural structures to make a typical redevelopment very special. I was honored to meet and talk with Mayor Jim Lane of Scottsdale. I presented him a small gift from the town. Most of our time was spent talking about branding.

Later Thursday the delegation visited Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. There I met Mayor Mark Mitchell. He was a very high energy, intense individual with a lot of passion for his city. He mentioned that while some university cities battle with universities, they embrace theirs and partner with Arizona State. The visit emphasized the point that partnerships are almost always beneficial.

After lunch the delegation heard from several speakers including the president of Arizona State, Michael Crow. He is probably one of the most amazing speakers I have ever heard. Some of the statistics he quoted were fascinating. For example, there was a direct correlation between high school dropouts and government assistance. As a result of that fact he embarked on a campaign to help 100% of students graduate from high school. In addition, if an Arizona resident has a B average or better they are guaranteed admission to Arizona State. As a result Arizona State has the largest student enrollment in the country which would make you think it would hurt their 4 year graduation rate. Instead the opposite occurred and the university is now ranked among the university leaders in various fields. Their charter states:

“ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.”

Simply amazing. One of the points I took away is to always consider non-conventional ideas. You never know how successful it might be.

Next we visited light rail in Tempe to look at transit oriented development. Compared to Charlotte they are in the very beginning stages.

Our final destination of the day was at Scottsdale Stadium to watch a spring training game between the Scottsdale home team San Francisco Giants and the Seattle Mariners. Seattle won 9 to 2. Our first full day was informational, long, but fun. Needless to say we all slept well.

Friday we visited the Scottsdale Museum and listened how a public-private partnership made that happen in just a few short years. I was glad that we had major Cary stakeholders on this trip. It was a great example of what can be done when everyone works together. After our talk I even had a few minutes to tour and did a stare down with a stuffed bison.

Next we visited a redevelopment project on the canal that goes through Phoenix, Scottsdale and the valley region. It was similar to a river walk and included shops, restaurants, and residential. Some of the high in residential went for over $3 million. The two main developers spoke to us and I then invited them to sit and talk with me for lunch. Over lunch I heard about their trials and tribulations getting things passed. According to them the main hurdle was having a council that was willing to face a public outcry from something drastically different than anyone had seen in the area before.

After the redevelopment project the delegation members had about 4 hours to explore on their own. I was fascinated with the desert landscape and how shade and water was a precious resource. All development seemed to incorporate something that addressed these two issues. Interestingly in Cary we face the opposite. That is, we always have to consider heavy rain storms and runoff.

In the evening we had the joy of enjoying Western BBQ sponsored by several Cary business leaders. It was a BBQ with sauce that was slightly sweet. I loved it.

The trip was a great success. In between destinations I had a lot of time to talk with developers and business leaders. I am excited about the ideas and energy gained from this trip and can’t wait to see what we can do in Cary.

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A request for lighted pickle ball courts
  • A request for an interview
  • A request for a proclamation
  • A complaint about Middle Creek students parking in neighborhoods
  • A question about stormwater management
  • A question about our future Jordan Lake aeration system
  • Questions about the Alston Town Center
  • A request to take action against a legislative bill to reduce class size
  • A complaint about dangerous traffic at Yates Store Road and Carpenter Fire Station Road (state roads)
  • An FYI from a resident that is moving because of noise made at the Wake Med Soccer park

Next week will also be busy for me. It will include a meeting with Steve Malik of Carolina FC, an Economic Development meeting, a work session on the Chatham County plan, Cary School of Government kickoff, the retirement of our Planning Director and our Transit Manager, our second council meeting of the month, the Spring Litter Sweep, and the ribbon cutting for Mid-Town Square.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 2nd.  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.

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, March 19th, 2017

This was another busy week for me which is typical for this time of year.

Monday started with my weekly one on one meeting with the town manager. We talked about several issues including the potential development proposal by Columbia Development to include a Wegmans across from the mall. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Later Monday several staff members met with the owner of Jira development and several other business leaders to talk about the Diversity Summit this past January. Originally Rachael Dolezal was supposed to be a part of the summit. While Jira selected Dolezal the town took criticism which included several pastors from the African American community. Eventually Rachael Dolezal was pulled from participating at the summit. The leader from Jira complained that the town knew about Dolezal and did nothing until there were complaints and then “threw them under the bus”. Needless to say this was a learning experience for all of us and fingers can be pointed in all directions. I am sure as we move forward the town will make sure that we do not see these types of issues again.

Monday night I attended the soft opening of the new Ruckus in Apex in the Costco shopping center. Interestingly the developers of that project talked to Cary about putting that development in MacGregor Village at one point.

Tuesday I joined council member Jack Smith in a taping of Cary Matters. Our topic was the Wake County Transit Plan and how it will impact Cary. We were able to do the episode one take.

Wednesday I participated in the Executive Board meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. There were no big decision points that impacted Cary. Several items were presented as information.

Later Wednesday I became ill and was unable to attend PRCR volunteer recognition banquet which was disappointing. This was the first one I have missed and I apologize for missing the opportunity to thank all those who helped make our parks the greatest in the nation. Fortunately, after 11 hours sleep and a little cold duration reduction medicine I was good to go on Thursday.

Thursday I facilitated a meeting of the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility Advisory Committee. One of the features of this partnership is an annual meeting to address capital and operational budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. These were presented by staff and agreed on by the committee to be forwarded to the Cary and Apex council for approval.

Later Thursday I facilitated a meeting of the Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory Committee. Each year this committee meets to address capital and operating proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. After the proposals from staff the committee unanimously approved the staff recommendations for operating and capital expenditures.

Friday I joined a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors for a legislative update. Topics discussed included the strong likelihood that HB2 will stay, the potential attempt by the state to take over water systems (again), sanctuary cities, sunshine laws as it pertains to text messages, exempting airport runways from fees, authorization for cities to provide broadband and internet, and small cell technology (on streetlight poles) to be in public right-of-way.

Saturday I gave remarks at Cary’s Arbor Day celebration. Here are excerpts from my remarks as we accepted our designation as a Tree City USA for the 34th time:

I am deeply honored to accept the Tree City USA designation on behalf of our citizens and am excited to continue our community’s tradition of celebrating the importance of trees.

The National Arbor Day Foundation awards this certification to communities of all sizes that meet strict criteria. One of these is the observation of Arbor Day like we’re doing today. Another is the investment in trees based on your community’s population, which I’m proud to report we went well above and beyond.  Another reason is because of the countless hours donated by our Spruce volunteers. Each year thousands of volunteers collects tons of litter, build gardens, restore stream banks, plant trees, and beautify our Town. Spruce volunteers tackle projects both large and small, but all of them play an important role in building a culture of conservation in Cary.  From planting 200 young trees along the banks of Swift Creek to collecting 6,288 pounds of litter in one single day at our Fall Litter Sweep. These dedicated volunteers help make our community great!

Many of you will leave here today holding a tree with the goal of improving the look of your yard. I want to challenge you to find a few hours in your schedule to help improve our community by joining friends and family and volunteering with Spruce. We have a Spring Litter Sweep on April 1 where we’ll take to parks and neighborhoods for some outdoor beautification. And please don’t forget to check out the Earth Day Celebration as part of Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival on April 29.

Tree-lined streets and preserved open spaces are a defining characteristic of our community, and we know our citizens care deeply about tree preservation. Thanks for keeping Cary clean, green, and beautiful.

After a proclamation I visited the booths that were set up with various green initiatives. I took home a Fringe Tree sapling that was being handed out to visitors. What a great tradition for Cary.

Saturday evening I joined over 100 folks from our Chinese community at the Mayton Inn. I was introduced to several as they celebrated their businesses and St Patrick’s Day. I must have taken 60 pictures with guests. I am so proud to live in a diverse community that embraces our differences and different cultures.

Sunday I had the honor of giving welcome remarks at the 8th Tobacco Road Marathon. I have been fortunate to do this since the very first one. It was amazing watching over 5,000 runners cross the starting line. And it took them just over 7 minutes to do it. What a great event for Cary.

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Bond Brothers Wins Contest!

USA Today announced the winner of their Best New Brewery in the country and the winner is right here in Cary! Bond Brothers came out on top among an initial 20 nominees and was chosen by a panel of experts that partnered with editors from USA Today.

Son Arrested in 2015 Death of his Mother

As you know from our news release early this morning, we arrested Nalini Tellaprolu’s son for her 2015 murder.

I want to thank Chief Godwin and his team along with District Attorney Lorrin Freeman and her group for taking the time needed and working so effectively together to close this chapter in a very sad story for our community. This is a blow to so many who knew the family, and we cannot overlook their pain in what has unfolded.

As a reminder, all requests for information moving forward after an arrest are referred to the DA to ensure that we don’t do anything that impacts the next steps in the process, so what we will be able to share with you beyond this email will be extremely limited.

Cary Hosting Annual Triangle Bike & Ped Workshop

Cary has been selected to host the seventh annual Triangle Bicycle & Pedestrian Workshop, to be held on April 7 from 8:15 am to noon, at Cary Arts Center.

At the workshop, participants will learn and discuss bicycle and pedestrian topics, including:

  • Local and Statewide Initiatives
  • NCDOT & Legislative Updates
  • RDU Forest Trail Center and Triangle Bikeway
  • Developing the BWI Airport Bicycle Trail and much more!

Optional lunch (on your own) and walking tour of downtown Cary will follow the workshop. We will share more details as the event gets closer!

Additional Information on Stormwater Measures

The Town has taken considerable measures to protect water quality and provide relief for flooding. These measures include innovative ordinances to protect storm buffers and control runoff by development. They include policies to evaluate citizen requests to reduce flooding and improve drainage. The Town has completed numerous projects to manage stormwater more effectively and improve streams. The Town completed a Stormwater Master Plan in 2013 and a Town Center Area Floodplain Study in 2006. The Town’s stormwater program operates under an NPDES Stormwater permit issued by the state of North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

We have created an index of information that describes these initiatives and actions in more detail to provide a more complete picture of Cary’s approach.

Additionally, you can watch the stormwater primer delivered by Steve Brown at the Council meeting on March 9.

Cary Community Plan Overview

Staff from the Planning Department hosted an overview session in Council Chambers for all employees to learn more about the Cary Community Plan. The overview walked through each of the 10 chapters and the policy themes that are interwoven throughout the Plan. The Cary Community Plan is our guiding document and will play an integral role for everyone as we work to keep Cary great.

Cary Lends Fire Assistance to City of Raleigh

As you may have seen on the news, a large apartment complex under construction in downtown Raleigh caught fire Thursday evening. Cary Fire was able to lend a hand for several hours by sending Cary three engines, one ladder truck, and one Battalion Chief.

The construction fire also damaged surrounding properties, including the NC League of Municipalities. Lana has been in touch with Paul Meyer, Executive Director, and offered Cary’s assistance in any way.

CAMPO Executive Meeting Action Summary

On Wednesday, the Executive Board approved the Harnett County Comprehensive Transportation Plan Amendments including updates to highway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian recommendations and approved the contract for the Triangle Strategic Tolling Study that will create a comprehensive regional tolling strategy. The Executive Board also received information on the FY 2018 Wake Transit Work Plan that authorizes and institutionalizes Wake County Transit Plan Implementation Investment Decisions. Finally, the Board received information regarding the call for projects as part of the Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program, which supports the provision of transportation services to meet the specific needs of elderly persons and persons with disabilities. The next Executive Board meeting is Wednesday, April 19 at 4 p.m. at CAMPO’s new location, One City Plaza, 421 Fayetteville Street, Suite 203, Raleigh.

Student Tour of Cary Parks

On Tuesday, seven 6th grade students from Rochester, NY toured Marla Dorrel Park, Hemlock Bluffs, and Jack Smith Park as part of their unit study on ‘play.’ They selected Cary as one of four sites around the country as a place to learn about best practices in park development.

Still Aboard the Spirit of Singapore

The Jordan Lake Aeration System, aboard the Spirit of Singapore container ship, passed through the Panama Canal earlier this week on its way to the final destination in Charleston, which is expected on March 24. Once the ship arrives, the equipment manufacturer has paid for custom officials to inspect the cargo so when it is off-loaded it can go directly to a truck for delivery.

Recognitions

The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department hosted their annual banquet for PRCR volunteers. This year’s banquet and silent auction was themed, “Heart of Gold,” as a nod to the Gold Medal Award the Town received earlier this year. We’d like to thank everyone who had a hand in organizing such a successful event – not to mention our awesome volunteers who help to keep Cary great!

We’d like to recognize the efforts of the crew from Engine-1 after they witnessed a sudden cardiac arrest of a resident while exercising at the Westover Hills Apartment Clubhouse. The crew from E-1 rendered immediate aid and after one defibrillation from an automated external defibrillator successfully revived the resident. The patient was transported to an area hospital and is reported to be in good condition.

And lastly, congratulations to Captain Daniel Lee, who was recognized as the 2017 American Legion Post 67 Firefighter of the Year during their recent annual Public Safety Awards Banquet. Captain Lee is a 23-year veteran of the Fire Department and works as a supervisor at Fire Station 9. Captain Lee has been instrumental in coaching and monitoring firefighter fitness levels for more than 15 years.

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about an upcoming rezoning at White Oak (council has not seen a report)
  • A request for more signage about USA Baseball.
  • Comments about the town’s new towing ordinance.
  • A complaint that the town is causing light pollution with LED street lights.
  • A complaint about mobile alerts.
  • A complaint about Cary Parkway from Kildaire to US1.
  • Multiple requests to attend events (tis the season)

Next week the council will be on an inter-city visit to Arizona. Other than that there are no other activities planned.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, March 12th, 2017

This was a busy week for me.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of any concerns or questions about Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. Since the agenda was short and non-controversial there were not any questions.

My first meeting on Monday was with several dozen town employees interested in working together on the opioid addiction problem that is rapidly growing in this region. I kicked off the meeting with a few remarks on how people in my life with addictions have impacted me. The point was that you don’t have to be an addict to be impacted by addiction. The group will meet again in the near future and begin their work to focus their efforts.

Afterwards I met with staff and went over the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. Since the agenda was short the meeting was brief.

My next meeting was to sign Cary’s municipal bonds. I was joined by the town manager, town clerk, town attorney, finance director, and an attorney representing the bank. I signed about 20 actual bonds and several legal documents. All documents had several signatures, were notarized and witnessed. The session lasted about 20 minutes.

After signing bonds I met with the town manager and the Mayor Pro-Tem to discuss an upcoming proposal by Columbia development. They are the ones currently contracting with the state on the property across from the mall. Their primary interest is a Wegmans which will be integrated with a horizontally and vertically mixed use. They should be coming to council soon with their proposal.

Monday night I was the moderator at a town hall by Congressman David Price. Before we took the stage we had a few moments to talk about several things. I love talking with him because of all his experience and knowledge he has about what is going on in Washington. And then add on top of that, he is a really good guy. Once we took the stage I gave a few welcoming remarks and then introduced Congressman Price who answered questions for close to two and a half hours. Most of the people vented for several minutes before asking their questions. The audience was almost all left of center on political policies with the majority of the questions focusing on health care and budget cuts. Congressman Price has been in Congress for almost three decades and has represented Cary very well. I am proud to have him as one of our representatives.

Tuesday started with an unplanned meeting with Columbia development representatives. These are the developers that are planning to present a proposal across from the mall that will include a Wegmans. They showed me sketches and 3-D video of what they plan to propose. If what was shown to me is proposed it will be a horizontal and vertical mix of uses which is what the Eastern Gateway calls for.

Later Tuesday I met with a local pastor. He and I have been meeting at least once a year to talk about the town and me. He and his congregation are always praying for me which I greatly appreciate. We talked about how he and his congregation can get more involved in the community.

Wednesday I joined council member Smith in a tour of Transitions LifeCare founded as the Hospice of Wake County. They are currently expanding and expect to complete the construction of the hospice facility in October. After the tour, former Raleigh mayor Smedes York along with John Thoma and Transitions LifeCare Board of Directors talked with us about a future expansion project called Transition Kids that will serve children and their families. This is much needed and is going to have a significant positive impact on the Cary Community. Transitions LifeCare has served over 6,546 families and we are blessed to have them in our region.

Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. On the agenda were five consent items, one public hearing, and three discussion items. Council approved MetLife’s Development Incentive grant. They have 1,474 new full-time employees with an average annual compensation of $104,556 which is well above what was initially proposed. They have built two office buildings with a combined square footage of 445,000 square feet and two parking decks with nearly 2,000 spaces. This incentive was to approve the town’s contractual obligation. Council also approved the repaving of Cary Parkway from Evans Road to Harrison Avenue. After the repaving has been completed NCDOT will take over maintenance of the road. It should be pointed out that NCDOT is responsible for all major roads in the town. Council approved the design and construction of a 48-inch parallel culvert across Bayoak Drive at Joel Court to address flooding of the home at 100 Joel Court. The presentation from staff on the flooding areas around town was phenomenal. We have asked that this presentation be videotaped so that the public will have access. After returning from closed session the council meeting concluded. The meeting lasted about 90 minutes.

Friday I had the pleasure of giving welcoming remarks at the silver anniversary show of VocalMotion who was raising money for the Center for Volunteer Caregiving who was also celebrating their silver anniversary.  VocalMotion is an all-volunteer, adult show choir that is sponsored by SAS. The Center for Volunteer Caregiving is a private, nonprofit, faith based organization with a mission to engage the community in providing volunteer services to improve the lives of seniors, caregivers, and adults with disabilities. I was thoroughly entertained by the talent and judging from the audience they were too. God bless both of these great organizations.

Sunday I had the joy of attending two events. My first event was the Chinese Communities Grand Gala at Prestonwood in Cary. Also joining me were Governor Cooper’s wife, Secretary of State Marshall, a few state senators, a few state representatives, Mayor Bell from Durham, and Mayor Stohlman from Morrisville. Several gave remarks about the importance of cooperation with China. My comments, and the comments of the mayors, focused on the importance of diversity.

My second event on Sunday was the Basant Bahar celebration at the Cary Arts Center. It has become a tradition for me to join my Indian American friends in celebrating their culture with music and dance. This year’s theme was Mudra from Indian mythology meaning love and life. We were all treated with great performances showcasing classic Indian dance.

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

Water Allocation Approval

On Thursday, the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission unanimously approved the Round 4 Jordan Lake Water Supply Allocation. This was a coordinated effort led by the Jordan Lake Partners, made up of water utilities surrounding the lake, including Cary/Apex, Durham, Orange Water and Sewer Authority and Pittsboro. This group has been working since 2009 to plan for our water supply to meet the needs of a growing population for at least the next 50 years. This new allocation secures sufficient Jordan Lake water supply for all of us to meet our anticipated needs until at least 2045. Future allocations of water supply from the lake will occur as needed.

Hazardous Tree Removal

Based on recommendations by an independent certified arborist, we will take time next week to remove hazardous trees on the 100 block of Walnut Street. The trees are near the future location of the new library and parking deck and are in a state of serious decline.

Improving Building Inspection Scheduling

With the help from Inspections & Permits, Technology Services and Development Services, staff implemented changes to the building inspection scheduling process which will make it easier and more efficient for citizens to schedule inspections. Effective this coming Monday, all new permits will be pre-loaded in our system with project specific, customized inspections, prior to the issuance of the permit. Citizens will no longer be required to select inspections from an extensive inspection list which is often confusing. These pre-loaded, customized inspections can easily be modified by a staff member if necessary.

Legislative Update

Lana Hygh, joined by our Assistant Police Chief Ken Quinlan and Capt. Ann Stephens of the Apex Police Department attended the NC House Committee on State and Local Government. H55 Apex/Cary/Police Assistance on School Grounds was heard and received a favorable report. It quickly progressed to the House floor, passed 118-0, and is now headed to the Senate for consideration.

Smart Communities Siting Coalition

The Town, separately and as part of the Smart Communities Siting Coalition (representing over 1800 communities in 10 states), filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission this week regarding deployment of small cell infrastructure. The Town and Smart Communities urged the FCC to avoid placing any further restrictions on local governments as they collaborate with their local wireless carriers and infrastructure providers to integrate this very new technology, and very new approach to infrastructure development, into their planning and zoning processes in a way that preserves, enhances, and protects the finite rights-of-way belonging to their residents.

Holly Springs Water Transfer Testing

We completed testing this week with the Towns of Holly Springs and Apex in advance of a planned maintenance operation by Holly Springs later this month that will require a water transfer. The transfer test ran from Tuesday through Thursday and successfully transferred approximately 4.5 million gallons from Cary to Holly Springs. This is the first sustained, multi-day water transfer conducted jointly by Cary and Holly Springs. This testing was very valuable to staff who were able to test the pump station, valve operations, and refine standard operating procedures for the water transfer operation.

Municipal Managers Meeting

On Wednesday, the Town hosted a meeting of the Wake County municipal managers facilitated by Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann. At the meeting, Ted Boyd presented information on Cary’s downtown development efforts. And update was also provided to the group on the FY 2018 draft Wake Transit Plan.

Occupancy/Food & Beverage Tax Review

The first of several stakeholder meetings related to the Wake County Occupancy and Food & Beverage Taxes was held at the Herb Young Community Center on Thursday morning. Nearly 60 people attended. Council members Jack Smith and Ken George and staff members Lana Hygh and Amina Shah and I represented Cary. Wake County and City of Raleigh presented information about the history and scope of the Occupancy and Food & Beverage Tax before turning to draft principles for the group to discuss in small groups. The purpose of the principles, when adopted, will be to provide a framework for making future funding decisions. Each group had an opportunity to suggest revisions or additions to the principles. Afterward, each individual was asked to rank all of the principles in order of importance.

The results of the meeting will be compiled in advance of the next meeting which is scheduled for 3 p.m. on March 27.  We appreciate Raleigh and Wake County including all stakeholders as this process moves forward.

Recognitions

For the 30th consecutive year, the Town received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for the FY 2017 adopted budget. The award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting and is presented to less than two percent of state and local government units nationwide each year.

On Saturday, March 4, Sarah Justice presented at the Advocates for Health in Action “8th Annual Dig-In.” Sarah partnered with Piedmont Conservation Council (PCC) at a session on urban agriculture and used the Good Hope Farm project as an example of what can be achieved through partnerships and innovative thinking.

 

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A suggestion on how to improve traffic in Cary.
  • A complaint that Cary is overbuilding (Cary doesn’t usually build and never builds on private property. Property owners build. We have no authority to stop development or control the rate of development).
  • A request to use the town logo in a private video of recycling.

Next week I will continue my busy schedule. Activities include private meetings, a taping of Cary Matters, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board, PRCR volunteer banquet, Cary-Apex Water Treatment advisory committee meeting, Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory committee meeting, a metro mayors meeting, an Arbor Day event, and the Tobacco Road Marathon.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, March 05th, 2017

This week included more talks than anything else.

Monday started with my weekly town manager one-on-one meeting. He updated me on several items and then he joined me as I went to speak at a meeting of the New South Voices.

There were several dozen people in attendance (I estimate over 50) of the New South Voices. They are dissatisfied with the direction of our state and nation and want to focus on issues that they believe they can get bi-partisan support such as Gerrymandering. I talked for about 10 to 15 minutes on the topic of Gerrymandering and HB2 and then answered a few questions. It is their hope to influence the next legislative election. The leaders of this group include former Cary Mayor Glen Lang. To find out more about this group go to https://www.newsouthvoices.org/.

Tuesday I had the pleasure of reading a book at Carpenter Elementary as part of Read Across America. Carpenter Elementary is unique in that they chose “CARY” as their school mascot. The C stands for Collaborative, the A stands for Achieving, and R stands for Respectful, and the Y stand for Year Round Leader. I can now add another acronym for Cary to go along with “Containment Area for Relocated Yankees” and “Can’t Annex Raleigh Yet”. I had a great time with the Carpenter kids. After reading a book about diversity I answered a few questions. I ended my visit with a selfie of the kids and another with me and the school mural.

Wednesday I met with a photographer from WUNC who took pictures to go along with their documentary on HB2 and other issues. They interviewed me about this a couple of weeks ago. The photos will be used on their website and in social media.

Later Wednesday I joined two council members, Cary Chamber members, and members of our business community in a meeting of the Economic Development Board. Our first talk was on the branding initiative. First we discussed the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and their marketing campaign. Council member Smith led the conversation since he was a part of that effort. Next town manager Stegall talked about Cary’s effort to rebrand and the committee unanimously agreed to move forward with this effort. The committee set a special meeting on the topic for March 28th. At that time Mr. Stegall will present his recommendation. If the committee approves the recommendation it will go to council for their approval and funding. Our final topic was the Quarterly Report of Economic Development. Here are a few notable items from that report:

  • Cary’s inventory of land and buildings in key locations is critical to attracting and retaining companies and jobs. Our inventory on both is low.
  • Class A office vacancy has dropped to 7.03% which is low.
  • There is a strong interest in corporate offices looking to locate in downtown. There are currently 4 active projects with potentially 2000 employees.
  • Developers are showing strong interest in moving forward with apartments and condos in downtown.
  • Cary was the #1 boomtown in the US out of 572 of the largest municipalities. The criteria included unemployment rate, GDP growth, and negative migration.
  • Cary was the #6 city where millennials are buying a home.
  • Cary’s Umstead was named to 2017 best hotels list.
  • Cary’s unemployment rate is 3.5% as compared to Wake County at 4%, North Carolina at 4.9%, and the United States at 5.1%.
  • Current potential economic development in the pipeline includes 3400 jobs and 174 million in capital investment.

Our meeting concluded after about an hour.

Thursday I had the pleasure to speak about 15 minutes with high school youth who were part of the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Leadership program. I talked about the council manager form of government, the council and our decisions, and my role as mayor.

Thursday evening the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for two cases. The first case was whether or not to allow a parking reduction for a Lidl grocery story on Grande Heights Drive off Harrison Avenue. While I am disappointed that we have another grocery store in close proximity of two other grocery stores, that was not our decision. Our decision was strictly on the parking and in the discussion a strong case was made that there was adequate parking with the parking reduction. In addition, it was pointed out that if parking were not available then shoppers would go to the stores in close proximity. Council unanimously approved the parking reduction. Our second case was for a reduction in streetscape for a proposed light vehicle service facility. In this case council was only considering the streetscape reduction request. The applicants argued that the streetscape requirements made it difficult to build on. The council believed there was opportunity for development on this parcel without streetscape reduction and unanimously denied the request. Our quasi-judicial meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors to get a legislative update. There were about two dozen participants. Items discussed were HB2, NC Secretary Trogdon’s meeting with mayors, rural economic development, the regulatory reform act which includes doubling of stream mitigation requirements, sales tax redistribution, Carthage water, developer impact fees, the transportation formula, and the opioid issue. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes.

The weekly town manager’s report included the following:

What Works Cities Workshop

Staff from across departments, as well as Council members Jennifer Robinson and Lori Bush, attended a workshop with Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of a What Works Cities discovery session. This onsite visit allowed the WWC team to take a deeper dive into current state of practice, and offered staff the opportunity to better understand the What Works Cities initiative. What Works Cities, launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in April 2015, is one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance cities’ use of data and evidence. The initiative will provide technical assistance to 100 cities on a rolling basis through 2018 and offer cities around the country tools and resources they need to succeed. What Works Cities was named by Forbes as “one of the biggest philanthropic bets on social change” in 2015. We began our application process earlier this year and have already completed several self-assessments.

Phase II Kick-off Meeting for Occupancy/Food & Beverage Funds Distribution

Cary is hosting the first of the Phase II stakeholder meetings on Thursday, March 9 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Herb Young Community Center. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. This kick-off meeting will include a review of the history of the revenues, update all parties on the current financial models and discuss principles regarding the management and use of these county-wide revenues. I’ll attend this meeting, joined by Jack Smith and Lana Hygh. The meeting is being advertised as a public meeting.

Sharing Highlights from Our Council-Staff Retreat

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of sharing my incredible experience at the annual Council-Staff Retreat with staff. Council Chambers was filled, and we even live-streamed the meeting to two dozen of our satellite facilities. I believe our retreat was a watershed moment for our organization, and truly enjoyed talking with staff about where we go from here.

Sharing Key Budget Requests

To continue strengthening relationships and building on our success with the Council-Staff Retreat, Department Directors gathered to present to and question each other on some of their key budget requests. This is a first for the organization with regards to cross-departmental sharing and another step in our ONECary approach.

Downtown Fountain Testing

Before storms rolled through Cary Wednesday night, staff gathered to conduct a short trial run of the functionality of the downtown park fountain. Testing included the initial lighting focus, some of the colors, and the impact of moving water on the light beams. Based on the photo and video, I hope you’ll agree with staff that this was a successful evaluation of the fountain’s capabilities.

Jordan Lake Water Intake Aeration System At Sea

The aeration system left Brisbane, Australia on February 20 aboard the NYK Futago, which took it to Auckland, New Zealand where it was loaded aboard the Spirit of Singapore. The Spirit of Singapore is heading beyond the Bay of Plenty and will soon be in the South Pacific. The ship is 10 years old, weighs 42,000 tons and is traveling at 20 knots heading east, away from Australia and is planned to transit the Panama Canal on March 13.

Bond Sale Results

We held a successful revenue bond sale on Wednesday. About $32 million in bonds were sold with an all-in interest rate of 3.44 percent. The market demonstrated strong interest in the bonds with orders totaling over $80 million for $32 million of bonds that were being sold. The interest rates held firm for the Town while rates were rising due to the Tuesday’s activity which included a Presidential speech to Congress and two Federal Reserve Presidents speeches.

Congressman David Price Town Hall Event Next Week

On March 6, Congressman Price will host a Town Hall and community listening session at The Cary Theater from 7-8:30 p.m.Mayor Weinbrecht will be on-hand to moderate the event.

Old Reedy Creek Trailhead Parking Lot Open

The Town accepted the parking lot last Friday and our citizens began using it first thing on Saturday morning. Still to be finished is the bathroom, which should be completed by our contractors in the next couple of months.

Share the Love Campaign

Several PRCR facilities participated in the “Share the Love” campaign throughout the month of February. This campaign served as a fundraiser for the Relief for Recreation Scholarship Fund. Individual donations ranged from a few cents up to $100. In total, $722 was raised for the scholarship fund.

GRCVB Tourism Talk

On Monday, Dan Ault, Susan Moran and Council member Jack Smith attended the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau (GRCVB) event discussing the status of tourism in Wake County. Survey findings, resulting from the recent DestinationNEXT assessment completed by stakeholders, board members, government leaders and others in the community, were presented with the hope of sparking a thoughtful, productive conversation about our area as a destination center.

Recognitions

The Police Department held its inaugural peer awards ceremony last week to recognize significant acts of service for the 2016 calendar year. Six officers received life-saving awards and two were awarded the medal of valor for courageous actions in the face of grave danger to themselves. In addition, two citizens were recognized for their assistance to an officer during his attempt to place a suspect under arrest. Another citizen, Mr. Tru Pettigrew, was awarded the Police Star for his incredible efforts over the past two and a half years in helping our police better connect with the African American community. Many thanks to the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Yerha and Council member Ken George for attending, along with Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, for joining this special event.

On Thursday, several staff answered calls to participate by representing the Town of Cary in local classrooms as part of the national Read Across America Day. Seen here is Carla Witherington from our Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department reading to fifth graders at Reedy Creek Elementary School. 

 

Join me in welcoming CJ Loomis as our new Contract General Manager with MV Transportation. MV Transportation is the current service provider under contract with the Town to operate GoCary services. CJ comes to use from Corpus Christi, TX where he served as the General Manager for its transit operations.

 

Emails from staff this week included a response to police training for autism. Here is an excerpt of that response from the Assistant Police Chief on our officers’ training:

… all police officers receive instruction in dealing with special populations during Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) which includes the eight hour block Individuals with Mental Illness or Developmental Disabilities and an eight hour block Communication Skills/De-escalation. Beyond BLET, specifically, there is a 40-hour course titled Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) which focuses entirely on interacting with the mentally ill and those with developmental disabilities. I have personally completed the 40-hour CIT course and found the training to be of great benefit in communicating and serving that segment of our community. As it stands today, we have 62 personnel in the Cary Police Department that have completed this training course and are considered certified Crisis Intervention Team officers.

 

In addition to formal classroom training we have also centered some of our reality-based training scenarios this year around communicating with individuals with autism. As an example, officers are called to a scene in which they must effectively communicate with and calm an autistic subject in an effort to acquire him the help he may need (as outlined in the scenario). Emphasis is placed not only on effectively communicating, but de-escalation of the scene. At the conclusion of the scenario, officers involved in the scenario and trainers will discuss performance and any further training opportunities. This type of training compliments the classroom training in that the officer must put the skills they learned into practice.

 

As you may know, the Cary Police Department is accredited through CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies).  One of the many stringent CALEA accreditation requirements includes training focused on dealing with citizens with mental illness and those with developmental disabilities, and we conduct that training at least once every three years. We will completing our additional training in this area under CALEA in 2017 as well. …

Needless to say, we have some of the best trained and dedicated personnel on our police force which helps keep us as one of the safest places in the nation.

Emails from citizens included:

  • A complaint about Carpenter Fire Station Road.
  • A request to help with a development proposal.
  • Several complaints about the corner of High House and Highway 55.
  • A complaint about the town’s website.
  • Two emails about quasi-judicial topics that I was not allowed to read (all information has to be presented at the meeting’s hearing).
  • An inquiry about synchronizing traffic signals.
  • A request to help get IKEA to come to Cary.

Next week will be a busy one with a regularly scheduled council meeting, a town hall with Congressman Price, several meetings, and three events.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, February 26th, 2017

This week was a typical busy February week for me.

Monday started with attempts to contact all council members about questions or concerns they may have for staff about the upcoming regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday. I was able to contact all council members but one. The only concern expressed was from a council member who was concerned about a transportation item on the consent agenda that prohibited guns. Later in the day I met with key staff to go over all the items on the agenda. I estimated the meeting would last about two and a half hours.

Later Monday I met with several staff members about communications equipment being allowed on street poles. Cary staff is working with the providers to allow their communications equipment with our guidelines to avoid unpleasant aesthetics. These providers are in a hurry to install hardware to allow 5G which is almost here. It is important to note that the courts, legislature, etc. will undoubtedly allow communications equipment. Trying to oppose it would certainly invite legal challenges which could result in no guidelines at all which we must avoid to maintain the beauty that Cary is known for. Hopefully, technology will advance enough where the equipment will become less and less noticeable in the future. In addition, it is thought that this type of equipment will eventually make the cell towers and poles obsolete. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Tuesday I joined the council in a work session to hear and comment on the Wake County Transit Plan Fiscal Year 2018 Work Plan. The work plan proposes the following funding requests:

  • New Fixed Route Sunday Service with hourly frequency
  • Federally-required complementary paratransit service on Sunday
  • Increased Frequency for Fixed Route Midday Service
  • A Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility (Design)
  • Bus Stop Improvements including sign replacement
  • A feasibility study to create a downtown multimodal facility
  • A Transit Capital projects coordinator (new position and startup office costs)
  • Two new fixed route vehicles capital leases for future service expansion
  • Marketing program

Total requested by Cary is $2,958,935. The decision on whether to fund all or part of those requests fall on the Transit Planning Advisory Committee which has 22 members two of which are representing Cary. The committee does have a weighted vote option which means municipalities with the largest populations get more weight in their votes. Some interesting points were made during the presentation and discussion. Cary’s ridership was grown from 100 trips a day in 2001 to 1,000 trips a day in 2016. There have been over 2.5 million trips by Cary’s transit since its inception. The plan will be available for public comment later this year.

Wednesday I had the honor or participating in the inaugural Cary Police Department Award ceremony. I was joined by Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha and council member George. Here is an excerpt of remarks I made:

… A few years ago, the FBI shared its perspective on the characteristics of an ideal police officer. The top ten list included obvious traits: knowledge of laws, sense of ethics, initiative, and controlled temper. But one that stuck out for me was a sense of humility. That is having the ability to respect each other along with a lack of arrogance, being confident in your skills without the need to boast, being in a role with such assumed authority, a police officer with the right degree of humility can create respect and trust with our citizens, something we know is so critical in today’s world of policing.

I have seen firsthand the humility of our Police Department. It’s in the way we empower neighbors in our Citizens Police Academy. It’s in the way we listen to citizens at community meetings, whether it’s with an HOA or as part of nurturing our Building Bridges program. It’s in our friendly approach to the driver’s side window during a traffic stop. Mr. Stegall, Chief Godwin, Assistant Chief Dezomits, and Sergeant Carey, you have assembled quite a team and I want to personally thank you and all others involved in our recruitment process. We would not be the safest community in the nation without you all at the helm.

Every day you put your lives on the line for me, my family, my neighbors, for all of us here. There are no words to capture my gratitude and appreciation toward every single one of you. You are a remarkable group, and I speak on behalf of the Council when I say we hope you continue to share your talents with Cary. Enjoy this evening of camaraderie. And when you return to the streets, be safe, be professional and continue to serve with empathy, dignity and respect. …

The ceremony concluded after about an hour.

Thursday before the regularly scheduled council meeting I met with scouts from troop 152 from Genesis United Methodist Church. I talked about what they could expect to see during the council meeting and my role as mayor. Then we took a photo of all of us gathered in front of the council table.

The second regularly scheduled council meeting of the month lasted over 3 hours and included 8 consent agenda items, 2 public hearings, and 5 discussion items. There was standing room only because of the public hearing for the Trimble Avenue rezoning proposal. At the beginning of the public hearing the representative for the applicant changed the proposal from 15 multi-family and single family units to 9 single family units. The public hearing had dozens of speakers and lasted about two hours. Because of the change there will be a public hearing on the change at the Planning and Zoning Board review on April 17th. While this proposal has come a long way from where it started I am not sure if they will satisfy the concerns of the neighbors and council members with their latest proposal. The council also took action to create a towing ordinance to help with towing issues around town. This will take effect on June 1st. The council unanimously agreed award a bid for a new water storage tank on Kilmayne Drive and to rebid a water main replacement project. After a closed session the council adjourned.  

Friday I participated in a meeting of the metro mayors. Topics of discussion included budgets, the HB2 repeal bill, tax redistribution, billboards, open meeting violations becoming misdemeanors, and impact fees. The Governor will present a budget sometime in March with a significant teacher pay increase. The House and Senate plan to have their budgets done in May. The HB2 repeal bill introduced NC Representative McGrady is believed to be headed for failure due to the referendum piece. In addition, there are several Democratic legislators that will vote no unless there is total repeal. The meeting concluded after 30 minutes. It looks like we will be stuck with the discriminatory and harmful HB2 for a while until our legislators decide to represent their constituents instead of their parties. Shame on them!

The Construction and Activity report for the month of January included the following notable items:

  • 83 single family permits were issued which was the most since July of 2016.
  • Cary had 6.9% of the county’s single family permits which was 7th out of the 12 municipalities.
  • The average single family dwelling was 3665 square feet compared to 4101 square feet in January of 2013.

The town manager’s weekly report included the following:

Coffee With A Cop

Thursday, Cary PD participated in our second Coffee with a Cop at the McDonald’s on SE Maynard near Fire Station 9 and the mall. Mr. Richards, McDonald’s franchise owner, graciously partnered with us to provide a casual atmosphere where police and citizens can interact, ask questions, and have open dialogue over a cup of coffee. We intend to spread this event to other restaurants in the future. This is yet another way the Cary Police partners with the community to break down barriers and create stronger ties with those we serve.

Greenway Counters

Due to record-breaking temperatures on February 12, the greenway counter permanently installed near Lake Crabtree on the Black Creek Greenway counted a record 1,207 citizens using this portion of the greenway. As a comparison, this same section averages 495 users on a typical weekend in the winter. Black Creek Greenway is one of the Town’s longest and most popular greenways due to its length and connection to other recreational and open space areas. The greenway counter is part of a network of portable counters that are used to supplement the manual counts completed by the Greenway Committee. Each segment of greenway is divided among the devices, which are rotated every 30 days. These devices assist staff with estimating citizen use of our greenway network.

Jordan Lake Brewing Company Open for Business

The brewery, located behind Town Hall on Wilkinson Avenue, which is part of the Downtown Business Improvement District, is now open with limited hours. The owners posted on Facebook to announce the opening and welcome families (including pets!) to check them out.

Stormwater Permit Renewed

We received our NPDES Phase II Stormwater Permit renewal last week. NPDES is the federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination System program under the Clean Water Act that protects waterways from pollution, whether from uncontrolled wastewater or stormwater runoff. This permit renews the state’s delegated approval of our stormwater program for the next five years. You will recall that the EMC and DEQ upheld our 100-foot riparian buffers in November 2016. Receipt of this permit renewal is especially notable in that it incorporates our proven approach to preserving riparian buffers, which has been instrumental in protecting properties from flooding and preserving the environment in Cary.

Gold Medal Makes The Rounds

The Gold Medal Award has been mounted on a lighted podium so it can travel easily to all areas of Town Hall as a way of recognizing the hard work of all Town staff that contributed to the effort and ultimately the award. Staff in Planning and Inspections & Permits has been enjoying the medal this week.

Annual Water Disinfection

The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility, which provides treated water to Cary, Apex, Morrisville, RDU Airport and the Wake County portion of RTP, will temporarily switch to free chlorine as its primary water treatment disinfection process during the month of March. This annual disinfection switchover, which also includes flushing the Town’s 1,035 miles of water lines, is a recommended maintenance practice by state and federal agencies and an integral part of Cary’s approach to maintaining high quality water throughout the entire year. Citizens may experience a slight chlorine odor during the month of March and observe Town staff flushing the water system. This is all a normal part of the annual disinfection process, which will conclude by the end of March.

Legislative Update

Council member Ken George and Lana Hygh joined other League members from across the state at the General Assembly on Wednesday. The group’s message focused on the importance of stable revenues, infrastructure needs and support for high-speed broadband across the state, not just in the large cities. They met with Senators Tillman and Davis and with Lewis King, Speaker Moore’s policy adviser.

Recognitions

Congratulations to Ken Quinlan on his promotion to the position of Assistant Police Chief! Ken began his career with the Town as a police officer in 1996. Throughout his time with the town, Ken has served as the Assistant District 2 Commander, Project Phoenix Lieutenant and the Criminal Intelligence Unit Lieutenant and Support Services Captain. And thanks to the good work of Police and Fire officers who responded to a crash at Maynard and Chapel Hill Road on Tuesday morning. They were able to successfully remove a mother and two children trapped in vehicle.

Emails from citizens included:

  • A request to not use taxpayer dollars to deport undocumented people (deportation is not a town function).
  • A request for Cary to sign a petition against Gerrymandering.
  • Several request to support and deny the Trimble rezoning.
  • A request to be more vigilant for Muslim terrorists. (Cary is vigilant against any kind of terrorist and we don’t profile race or religion).
  • A request to support kids with Autism.
  • A complaint about someone using his residence for coaching.
  • A request for a sidewalk on Carpenter Upchurch and Louis Stephens Road.
  • A concern about homes in floodplains.

Next week’s activities include a meeting with the town manager, a meeting with the New South Voices PAC, a visit to Carpenter Elementary, an Economic Development meeting, and a town council quasi-judicial meeting.

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, February 19th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating Agencies Bond Ratings Confirmed

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

Utility Monthly Update

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

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

DigiPay eCheck Pilot

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

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

Reclaimed Water Holiday In Progress

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

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

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

Jordan Lake Water Intake Aeration System

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

Fluoride Update

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

Upcoming Staff Reports

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

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

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

Recognitions

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

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

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

 

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

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, February 12th, 2017

This was another busy week for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017 Biennial Budget Process Begins

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

Carthage Water Case

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

Municipal Election Bill

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

House Finance Hears Briefing on Local Option Sales Taxes

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

Meeting with Senate Commerce Chairs

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

NCDOT Sec. Trogdon Speaks with NCBOT

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

Rep. Torbett on Transportation This Session

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

Bridging our Urban and Rural Regions Op-Ed

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

The meeting concluded after about 45 minutes.

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

Local Cary Bill Introduced at the General Assembly

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

District 3 Police Substation Underway

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

Pirates Cove Greenway Boardwalk: Renovations Complete

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

2016 Water Supply & Usage Report

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

Neighborhood Meeting for Rezoning Request

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

Share & Care Event

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

Academy Streetscape Nominated for “Champion Award

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

Recognitions

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

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

Emails from citizens this week include:

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

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

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

Category: Uncategorized  
• Sunday, February 05th, 2017

This week was a busy week for me.

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

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

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

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

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

Our legislative agenda is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

The town manager’s weekly report included the following:

Hello from NYC!

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

Cary Parkway & West Chatham Street Signal

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

Naming Town Facilities

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

Implicit Bias Training for Cary Police

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

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

Paid Parental Leave Program

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

Successful Burn at the Bluffs

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

Tax Collection Lawsuit Dismissed

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

Recognitions

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

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

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

The fourth quarter report from 2016 included the following information:

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

Emails from citizens this week included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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