• Sunday, October 04th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 11th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, September 27th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was busy with several long nights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are my answers to the Cary News Questionnaire:

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 4th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Monday, September 21st, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 27th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, September 13th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week included a council meeting and several weekend events.

Monday was Labor Day so I, like many, labored with yard work instead of relaxing like I should have.

Tuesday I called council members to hear of concerns or questions for Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all council members except Robinson. Due to the short agenda there weren’t really any significant questions or concerns.

Later Tuesday I met with management, administration, legal, and public information to go over the agenda items. The agenda had no public hearings and four straightforward items for discussion. I anticipated that Thursday’s meeting would last about half an hour.

After the agenda meeting I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town managers. Some of the items we discussed included the downtown park, the downtown library and the associated zonings needed to move those forward. We also discussed fiber installation by AT&T and Google, the Wake transit plan, and Lazy Daze.

Thursday began with a taping of a winter weather public announcement. It was taped at the Garmon Operations center in front of the salt and two of the big plows. I wore an overcoat and held gloves in my hands. I was supposed to wear a scarf but they thought it was a bit much. It will be amusing this winter seeing this message and knowing it was taped in the summer and that I was sweating under the overcoat.

Thursday I met with a group from Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. They are on a mission to meet with elected and service officials to honor their service. To do this they tied a thread around my wrist (called Raksha Bandhan) and explained that Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of interdependence in our society. That is, they rely on me and support me and I vow to support them. Police Chief Godwin was also honored in the meeting.

Thursday night the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month. There were no public hearings and council unanimously approved all discussion items. Those items included a project list for consideration to CAMPO, a sign for all of our sister cities, a bid award to build the downtown park, and funding for artificial turf fields in Cary. Our open session lasted only 14 minutes. We then went into closed session which lasted about 10 minutes. While it was nice to have a short meeting, the last meeting in September is shaping up to be one of the longest meetings in the last eight years. So I guess it all balances out.

Friday I visited the first grade classes at Penny Road Elementary. I spoke to them about citizens, communities, and what I do as mayor. I was followed by police officers who the students seemed to be much more excited about. In fact when asked how many want to grow up to be police officers most of them raised their hands. The visit was a lot of fun and I hope I get invited back in the future.

Saturday morning I joined about 50 volunteers at a SPRUCE beautification event commemorating 9/11 and honoring Cary’s fire fighters. We built a fenced-in raised garden for fire station 4 on Old Apex Road. The fire fighters will use the vegetables from this garden in their meals at the station.

Saturday night I joined a fundraiser by a local organization called Different But Able. This organization’s purpose is to upgrade the quality of life and education of disabled and special needs children in India. This includes medical support, research, publication, empowerment, training and development of rural sectors. I provided welcoming remarks and then enjoyed the fantastic talent from several youth groups. I hope this organization increases its presence not only to help those in India but to bring us together as a community to share a common goal.

Sunday I attended the 5th anniversary celebration of Mosaic Church. It was not a traditional Christian worship service that I was used to but great service none the less. I was asked to make a few remarks. I congratulated them on their five year anniversary and thanked them for their service to the community.

Email from citizens this week included a concern about funding the Cary Town Band, a request to deny the rezoning at Carpenter Fire Station Road (council hasn’t seen the proposal yet), a request to fast track a Middle School (WCPSS says it doesn’t have funding to build a middle school in West Cary), a complaint about grass clippings in the street, a concern about a tractor trailer parked in a neighborhood for long periods of time, a complaint about champion tree removal, and invitations to several events.

Next week’s activities will be participating in Cary’s Pro tennis championship’s Pro-Am, attending a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and attending the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources annual volunteer picnic.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 20th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, September 06th, 2015

harold2011_small2With the exception on one long meeting night, this was an exceptionally slow week.

Monday there were no meetings planned since I was returning from visiting my daughter out of town.

Tuesday I entertained guests at the Booth Amphitheater. We were treated to a concert by the Doobie Brothers and Greg Almond. The Doobie Brothers played a lot of their earlier songs without Michael McDonald. For those of us who have lived through decades of rock this was a nice trip back on memory lane. One unexpected bonus at this concert was Greg Almond singing a Michael McDonald song with the Doobie Brothers. All of the performers sounded as good as they did 40 years ago. I estimated the crowd to be in excess of three thousand which was great for a Tuesday school night.

Wednesday I met with the town’s Economic Development Committee. This committee meets quarterly and is made up of the mayor, two council members, the town manager, the Cary Chamber’s executive director, the chair of the Cary Chamber’s board of directors and the three new Cary citizen membership positions. The purpose of this committee is to oversee activities of the Town’s economic development program. The committee considers economic development that can be jointly implemented by the Town and Chamber. Some of the items of note from this meeting include:
• CoFounders Capital has raised a fund of nearly $12 million and has already had four investments totaling nearly $1 million.
• There continues to be numerous small and medium size businesses interested in relocating in Cary.
• A business guide is being finalized and will be a resource for new businesses looking to open in Cary.
• The state property at the intersection of Cary Town Boulevard and I40 is under contract with Columbia Development. Hopefully their plans will include a large employment center component.
• Plans have been filed for 159,000 square feet of Class A office in Regency Park. This is likely to be filled with an expansion by HCL.
• Developer activity is growing in downtown Cary. There should be new announcements soon.
• RDU has announced direct flights to Salt Lake City, Dallas Love field, and Denver.
• Currently there are 13 active economic development projects. If they all come to fruition it would mean 4,440 additional jobs and $360 million of investment.
• Cary’s unemployment rate at the end of June was 4.1%. Wake County was at 5.0%, North Carolina at 6.3%, and the US at 5.6%.
Our meeting concluded in a little under an hour.

Wednesday evening I had the pleasure to attend the VIP reception of CineBistro in Waverly Place. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were served to about a couple of hundred guests. We were then treated to the movie “A Walk in the Woods”. The lobby area includes a full service bar. The six movie theaters have huge screens and leather reclining lounge chairs with fold in tables. Each chair has a waitress that will pretty much bring you anything you want. And by the way, the food was fabulous. Once the movie starts the wait service stops and customers must go to concessions for additional food and drink. It was a great experience and different from CineBowl, their competitor in Parkside Commons, which was geared more towards families. So if you want a nice adult dinner and movie with just you and your significant other you might want to check out CineBistro.

Thursday the council held 4 quasi-judicial hearings.

The first hearing was the consideration of a site and subdivision plan for the development of 99 townhomes on 33 acres. The proposed development included a request to waive improvements to a future segment of McCrimmon Parkway. Instead the applicant proposed to build a segment of road to Good Hope Church Road leaving the future connection to McCrimmon Parkway as a town responsibility. After deliberation most of the council expressed concerns that the unknown cost of those improvements, $250,000 to $1,400,000, was too much of a risk for the taxpayers and denied the request. It should also be noted that two connections were required with an earlier proposal of over 100 units. The reduction of units to 99 allowed just one connection which would have been through an existing neighborhood south to Good Hope Church Road.

The second hearing was to consider a re-develop approximately one-half acre located on Tryon Road at Jones Franklin Road for an automotive repair use. The proposal included reductions in the width of the streetscapes required along three adjacent roadways and a reduction in the building setbacks from Tryon Road and Jones Franklin Road. An adjacent auto brake repair shop opposed the request and a lawyer represented his interests. It should be noted that a dilapidated building has been vacant on this site for years. The Land Use Plan and the zoning dictate this site should be commercial. But due to the shape of the site it would have been almost impossible to redevelop as commercial without reductions in streetscapes. After much deliberation the majority of council agreed to the request.

The third hearing was a site plan for approximately 415,000 square feet of office on approximately 39 acres on SAS Campus Drive at Trenton Road. The site plan required Town Council approval since it exceeded 100,000 square feet of non-residential floor space and the property had not been rezoned since March 2013. The proposal included modifications to town standards, including a reduction in required parking, allowance of parking between the building and the intersection, the removal/replacement of champion trees, the elimination of a pedestrian connection to Trenton Road, and a reduction in the minimum required spacing between canopy trees and light poles. The presentation addressed all of the issues. The parking issue was addressed with information about current excess parking at SAS buildings. The removal of champion trees was held to a minimum of just a handful out of over a dozen. The council approved this proposal unanimously without much discussion. Whenever there is a proposal from SAS there always seems to be a question of whether or not I should participate. The town’s legal department has investigated this in the past and determined that Council members have a duty to vote on items like this unless their vote is prohibited by a conflict of interest. Neither I nor any member of my family will receive a direct benefit from this development plan. Therefore, I was required to participate and vote on this proposal.

The final hearing was a consideration of a special use and site plan to develop an 8,800-square-foot county library on a 3.75-acre portion of the 61-acre Middle Creek High School site at the intersection of West Lake Road and Middle Creek Park Avenue. The plan included modifications to the Town’s requirements for installation of utilities and roadway improvements. The utility improvements, which were known with the development of the high school site, would be at a cost from about $200,000 to $500,000. The county argued that the more they had to spend on the site the less they would be able to spend on books and other things. While that is a very weak argument, the council reluctantly agreed to approve the request which is a virtual gift from Cary taxpayers to the county. If we would have denied this request it is very likely we wouldn’t have gotten a library at this site for several more years.

Our four quasi-judicial hearings took a little over four and a half hours.

A TV story this week on the Academy Street improvements implied that Cary was spending $10 million dollars to make it look prettier. How misleading and disappointing from such a reliable news source. While the aesthetics are important, a significant portion of the cost is the utilities that will serve current and future residents and businesses. It is important to understand that this is the oldest part of Cary and the utilities are more than half a century old.

Emails from staff this week included the construction and activity report for August. For the month there were 39 single family permits issued, 70 townhome permits, and one non-residential permit. The average single family dwelling was 3070 square feet compared with August of 2011 when the average single family dwelling was 3634 square feet. Cary accounted for 14.7% of the single family permits in Wake County which was second to Raleigh. 63.86 acres were annexed in August.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about a 50 cents increase in fees for playing pickle ball, a question about school assignments, a complaint about a school being used for a voting precinct, and a criticism of the council making a “horrible” decision on a site plan at Tryon and Holly Springs Road.

Next week includes a council meeting, a school visit, and an event commemorating 9/11.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 13th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, August 30th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a short week for me but included a couple of long nights.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of their questions or concerns about the agenda for the upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to contact all council members but Robinson. The only concern seemed to be a public hearing on a proposal to subdivide a lot on Walnut Street into three lots.

Later Monday I met with management, administration, legal, and public information to go over the agenda items. Our meeting went rather quickly and I predicted the council meeting would not last long.

My last meeting Monday was with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town managers. This meeting lasted over an hour as we talked in detail about several issues. One item we talked about was all the projects in the works for downtown that are not yet public. One of these projects includes structured parking which would include partnering with the town. This may impact our decision on parking on the new Wake County library site. We also did a debriefing of the first Lazy Daze on town hall campus. Feedback included folks that loved the new site and folks that hated it. There were 50 fewer vendors this year because of the limited space on the new site. We will calculate information on how well the vendors did in the upcoming days. There is a good possibility that Academy Street might not be finished in time for next year’s Lazy Daze so we might be at town hall again for the 40th year celebration. Another item we discussed was the Google fiber. Residents have been asking if Google plans to offer service to residents that live in Cary but have an Apex mailing address. The town asked the Google representative about this and they did not know. The corporate office was also asked but they have not responded. There is nothing contractually that would make Google provide service to all Cary residents since the town does not have that kind of authority.

Tuesday I met with Wake County Commissioners Calabria and Hutchison to talk about transit. I told them that I could not speak for the council but I did tell them my personal opinion about the future of transit in this region. That is, it is important to understand that this region will double in population within the next two decades. And without multimodal transportation including buses, bikes-pedestrian, some kind of rail, and cars, this region would suffer economically and personally through a diminished quality of life. It is also important to understand that when talking transit we are not talking about today’s transportation but about tomorrow’s transportation and what conditions we anticipate. If we don’t begin planning now we will just be reacting which will be much more costly and less effective. Our conversation also included today’s congestion points during peak times in Cary’s morning and evening rush hours. On a related note, Cary has more people are coming into town for jobs than are leaving for jobs elsewhere. This change has occurred very recently and is a direct result of bringing high paying jobs to Cary. My meeting with the commissioners lasted about an hour.

Tuesday evening the council held a work session on three topics: the downtown library, the winter council retreat, and appointments to the town’s boards and commissions.

Wake County will be building a library across from the Cary Arts Center on the 13 acre town site. It will be about twice as big as the current downtown library and be a regional library instead of a locale one. The town is looking for opportunities to partner in a design that would allow expansion with office, retail, or residential next to the library and include structured parking. Of course any changes in design or additions would be paid for by the town. Since Cary is currently negotiating a partnership with another project for structured parking in downtown, this makes the decision much more difficult. That is, we probably can’t afford to pay for both. At the end of our discussion we asked the Wake County and town staffs to come back with detailed financial impact and a layout with the library closer to the park site. This additional information will have to be provided soon and the council will have to make a decision before the end of September since the bond money for Wake County expires at that time.

Our next topic at the work session was the town’s winter retreat. The winter retreat is usually held at the end of January and sets priorities for the year and years to come. It is an excellent time to do a “deep dive” on issues that will have the greatest impact to the town. The council identified three main areas for discussion. Communications between council and staff will be an important discussion since 1) we will have at least one new member and 2) council members are not in total agreement of who should talk to whom about what with staff. This sometime causes confusion and inefficiencies with our ability to address issues. The second topic will be on redevelopment and infill. A lot of areas in town are becoming old and dilapidated and are ideal for redevelopment. In addition, there are still several parcels of land completely surrounded by existing homes and businesses that may develop soon. These types of projects, called infill, always create angst and concern. It will be a good opportunity for council to understand each other’s vision of how these are to be developed. Our last issue for the retreat will be regional visioning. That is, what is being planned around us and how will that impact Cary. That will be a very interesting discussion especially with large developments occurring on our borders.

Our last topic at the work session was appointments for boards and commissions. The liaisons went over their nominees and why the recommended each individual. There was little discussion about the nominees and council approved all recommended appointees. The appointments will be approved at the September 10th council meeting.

Wednesday was my wife’s birthday and so I made sure not to have any meetings.

Thursday was a regularly scheduled council meeting that lasted less than an hour and had two topics of discussion. The first council discussion was after the public hearing on the proposed rezoning on Walnut Street to allow a lot to be subdivided into three thirteen thousand square feet lots. Council expressed concern about the lots having the look and feel of the surrounding lots. While the proposed lot sizes match most of what is around it the narrowness of the lots does not. Staff will bring back information that will help council understand the differences better. Meanwhile it will go to the Planning and Zoning board for their review and recommendation.

The second main discussion item was the order to demolish a dwelling in Oxford Hunt that is dilapidated. Apparently the owner had abandoned this property and it has fallen into disrepair. Now it is not only an eye sore but a safety hazard. Council voted unanimously to start proceedings to demolish the house.

The rest of the week was spent out of town visiting with my youngest daughter.

This week generated a lot of emails from citizens that included comments about Lazy Daze, comments about zip codes, a comment about a charity event, a concern about a recently approved rezoning, a concern about a proposed rezoning, a concern about a fee increase at the community center, a concern about school reassignment, a concern about the environment, a request to recognize a certain holiday (not within our authority), a complaint about the town’s recycling, a concern about greenway safety, and a request to meet with council to design the library site.

Next week’s activities include the opening of CineBistro and a quasi-judicial meeting of council.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 6th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was dominated by small meetings and events.

Monday the council met in closed session with a consultant to discuss the process of hiring a new town manager. The main purpose of this meeting was to go over the job description draft and provide our insights of what we expect of a town manager.

Monday night I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Nine of the twelve mayors were in attendance. Absent were mayors of Holly Springs, Wendell, and Garner. We had a very short agenda and spent most of the time talking about the Centennial Authority and their plans for expansion of the RBC center.

Tuesday I headed to Washington, North Carolina to attend a funeral for a dear old friend who lived to be 91. At my age I tend to go to more and more funerals every year.

I returned Tuesday evening to tour Dorcas Ministries. Dorcas Ministries provides crisis relief to Cary and Morrisville residents who seek stability and self-sufficiency. Part of their outreach services includes a food pantry, crisis ministry, education scholarships, childcare, job training and assistance with Cary Parks and Recreation. God bless them for all they do for our community. They can always use volunteers and donations. Please help if you can.

Wednesday I attended and chaired the monthly meeting of the executive board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). CAMPO is made up of 19 municipalities and 5 counties that make decisions on regional and local transportation issues. I chaired this meeting because the chairman was out of town and I currently serve as vice chair. Running a CAMPO meeting was much different from running a town council meeting. One of the main differences is that you gavel at the beginning and ending of each public hearing. I am a firm believer that a gavel should be used only to open and close a meeting. The CAMPO agenda was not that long so I went through it rather quickly. We ended after 41 minutes and I was told that was a record.

Thursday I attended a reception for visitors from our sister city in Markham, Canada. I made remarks and read a proclamation in honor of their visit and their ongoing commitment to Cary. Here are excerpts from my comments about sister cities and our official town crier from Markham, Canada:

“… In Cary, we have a long tradition of not just celebrating but also encouraging and exploring diversity. We work to achieve this by partnering with cultural groups within our community. We’re proud to say that Cary is home to a diverse population of many different backgrounds and through our Sister Cities program, which strives to further global understanding by building personal relationships with cities throughout the world. Today, Cary has unique, community-to-community relationships with Le Touquet, France; County Meath, Ireland; Hsinchu City, Taiwan; and Markham, Canada. Since its creation in 1992, the Town’s program has focused on cultural and artistic exchange, education, government, and economic development as a means to help bridge both the physical and philosophical distances that too often divide us as world citizens. I’m excited to host this event on the eve of our Lazy Daze weekend, which always officially starts with our Town Crier and Markham, Ontario resident John Webster. John and his wife Mary help not only make our festival special but also represent the bonds forged by our Sister Cities Program. …”

Also in attendance at this event were two chefs from Hsinchu City that are spending a month traveling around the United States visiting their sister cities and providing cooking demonstrations. They provided samples of their expertise at Lazy Daze. Cary is blessed to have such great sister cities that help us form personal bonds with people from around the world.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors which was mostly an update on legislative items. The discussion centered on the proposed sales tax redistribution which could cost Cary millions of dollars in revenue. According to the latest information there are at least 77 NC house members that are firm no votes against sales tax redistribution. Historic tax credits and other items were discussed but the feeling is that the legislators of focused on the sales tax redistribution.

Saturday I gave welcoming remarks at the 39th Lazy Daze arts and crafts festival. This year the festival was held on town hall campus since Academy Street is undergoing a renovation to update utilities and the streetscape. I enjoyed the new location and hope it is included in future Lazy Daze. We’ll see.

In emails from staff this week we were asked to remind citizens that nominations for the Hometown Spirit Award will be accepted through September 18th. The Hometown Spirit Award is bestowed annually on a Cary resident who enhances the quality of life in Cary by preserving, promoting and carrying out positive and quantifiable traditional small-town community values and traits as embodied in the following criteria:
• Helps out neighbors and fellow Cary residents
• Demonstrates hospitality
• Promotes and preserves traditional American past-times
• Shows a concern for preservation and works to preserve traditions and the small-town atmosphere in the community
• Promotes entrepreneurship through supporting locally-owned business
• Promotes a sense of community in their neighborhood and all of Cary
• Demonstrates patriotism through promotion and preservation of the country’s symbols and dedication to the U.S. military, past and present
• Serves the community through business
So if you know of someone who meets these criteria please fill out a nomination form and submit it to the town clerk’s office at virginia.johnson@townofcary.org. The nomination form can be found at http://www.cvent.com/Surveys/Questions/SurveyMain.aspx?r=cf84c2e7-3bc3-4c3d-8420-9eb6bdc5b6c1&ma=0.

Emails from citizens this week included complaints about a fee increase at the community center, requests to demolish a uninhabitable house in Oxford Hunt, and several requests to attend events.

Next week will include the 2nd regularly scheduled council meeting of the month; a work session on board appointments, the new library, and the winter council-staff retreat; and a meeting with a few county commissioners about transit.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 30th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

• Sunday, August 16th, 2015

harold2011_small2This was a typical week in the mayor’s office.

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of their concerns and questions about Thursday’s agenda for our first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. I was able to contact all council members but Frantz and Robinson. The main concern expressed was on a staff proposal to request funding for the South Harrison Avenue extension to Kildaire Farm Road from the fiscal year 2017 Locally Administered Projects Program of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). Based on what I have heard most council members do not want this extension.

Later in the day I met with management, administration, legal, and public information to go over the agenda items. We went over the items and staff explained that the South Harrison Avenue extension was proposed because it scored well of potential funding CAMPO and it is still on the transportation plan.

My last meeting Monday was with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town managers. We talked about the upcoming town’s rezoning of the 13 acre site in downtown that will hold a library and park. We also talked briefly about other projects and issues.

Tuesday I met with the owner of the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. We discussed issues with the mall and the potential development of the 95 acres by the Columbia Development group. His main concern was about parking and he is looking for partnerships with the town and developers. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Wednesday I provided the welcome to the Cary Chamber’s Leadership Dinner. In attendance were several county commissioners, school board members, legislators, congressional representatives, and business leaderships. It was an opportunity to get to know these individuals so that we can work better together. In my comments I thanked them and pointed out that Cary is great in part because of their efforts.

Wednesday evening I entertained guests at the Booth Amphitheater. The performers were Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton. If you are as old as I am you remember them from the 1970’s. Both were excellent and Frampton seems to be as phenomenal a guitar player as he’s always been. It was a fantastic show. There were over 2000 in attendance which is not bad for a weekday night.

Thursday the council held their first of two regularly scheduled meetings for the month. There were no public hearings and six items for discussion. The main item discussed was the rezoning of a property at Ten-Ten and West Lake Road. The complaints from adjacent county residents were that the density didn’t compare to their lots which went up to six acres. In our decisions we have to compare the proposal to the current Land Use Plan. The current plan for this area called for one to three units an acre. This proposal was for two units an acre. In addition, this proposal provided other mitigations beyond what was required. The council approved by a vote of 5 to 1.

At the end of the regular meeting the council went into closed session. Afterwards the council returned and unanimously approved a motion to make Deputy Town Manager Bajorek the Interim Town Manager starting immediately after the current town manager retires on September 30th. Cary is fortunate to have Mike Bajorek and he will do a fantastic job. It is my hope that he applies for the town manager position.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. This meeting focused on legislative proposals for sales tax reform and historic tax credits. We are hopeful that there are enough legislators to protect Cary from being robbed of millions of dollars of revenue from the proposed sales tax legislation.

Saturday I attended the India Independence Day celebration at the Hindu Society of North Carolina Temple. I was joined by Secretary of State Marshall, NC Representative Adcock, Mayor Stohlman, Council member Bush, and several Morrisville council members. The event started with a small march followed by a flag raising ceremony. The ceremony included national anthems of both countries along with chants of “long live India”. After the flag raising ceremony the celebration continued in the Cultural Hall.

Later Saturday I attended the International Community Day celebration at Pleasant Grove Church. There were several vendors providing different types of cuisine. In addition, the Cary Police, Cary Fire, and parks departments were there with representatives. I provided a few remarks about diversity. It is my hope that this event will continue annually and grow.

Emails this week included a notification that the Triangle Business Journal reported that Hibernian on Kildaire Farm Road would close on August 15th. They plan to reopen in downtown Cary later this year. Newk’s Eatery, a deli chain, will be opening at the old Hibernian location and will be the first in the area. See the Newk’s menu at http://www.newks.com/menu/.

It was also reported this week that Cary was one of the top thirty places to retire according to a new study commissioned by the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement. It is another of a long list of kudos for the best place to live, work, raise a family, and now retire.

Emails from staff this week included the development and construction activity report. The report included:
• 124.02 acres were annexed in July
• The average single family dwelling in July was 3261 square feet valued at $192,152 this compares to July of 2011 of 3614 square feet valued at $172,657. (Note that these values are nowhere near the selling price)
• Cary had 14.3% of all county permits compared to 22.5% in Raleigh.
• Cary issued 121 single family permits and 54 nonresidential family permits.
To view all plans under review go to http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Planning+Department/Planning+Department+PDFs/planreview/Active+Projects+in+the+Review+Process+%28sorted+by+date%29.pdf.

Emails from citizens this week included a question about Google fiber, concerns about a rezoning proposal, concerns about future traffic on Chapel Hill Road, and invitations to several events.

Next week’s activities include a meeting of the Wake County mayors, a meeting with consultants on the town manager search, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizations executive committee, and Lazy Daze.

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

• Sunday, August 09th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week consisted mostly of private and staff meetings.

On Monday I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town manager to go over several current issues. We talked about the Dellinger property for townhomes at Crossroads which has been withdrawn. We also talked about the downtown library site. The county will fund the building of their standard library and nothing more. If the town wants anything extra then we must be willing to pay for it. Several council members have stated that they want to do more with that building. So either it has to be designed and paid for up front by the town or the library would have to be designed in a way that additions could be added. This will be a discussion the council will need to have soon. If the town delays the construction of the library then we might be put in the back of the line, so to speak, for county funding. My meeting with staff concluded after about half an hour.

My next meeting on Monday was with individuals planning the Dreamfest celebration for early next year. Last year the Cary Theater was full with the visit from Naomi King. This year they are hoping to create an event with an even bigger draw. My meeting with them lasted about half an hour.

Monday evening I attended the Cofounders Lab Open House next to the Cary Theater. This group of investors is looking to provide capital support to start businesses. They are financially supported by funds from a group of investors. In attendance at the open house were about 100 people who were mostly the investors and interests from the town. It is my hope and belief that these investors will start creating new businesses in Cary and especially in downtown. I think we will see our downtown change significantly during the next four years with new businesses and new residents. It is an exciting time for downtown Cary.

Tuesday morning I met with representatives from Columbia Development interested in 95 acres across from Cary Town Center. They are still in the evaluation and discovery phase so there are no definite plans. If they move forward their development will be significant and will help an area of town that needs improvement.
Wednesday I met with two candidates running for local office. My first meeting was with a candidate running for a seat on the Cary council. It was mostly a get-to-know-you meeting. He spoke about his background and knowledge of Cary and his willingness to serve. My second meeting was with a candidate running for a seat on the Raleigh council. She was more interested in how I balanced a full time job and my duties as mayor.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for a Wendy’s in the Bradford Development at the Davis Drive and High House intersection. The Bradford was approved in 2007 before many of the current council members, including myself, were elected. That approval allowed three drive-through businesses including two restaurants. Any business with a drive-through restaurant requires council review and approval of the site plan for that particular out parcel. Since quasi-judicial hearings are based solely on evidence and there was no evidence against the Wendy’s with a drive-through then it was approved. This was disappointing since I personally believe the last thing we need at that intersection is another fast food. However, we were very restricted from the 2007 approval.

After the quasi-judicial hearing the council held a work session to hear proposals from two consultant groups wishing to perform the search for our next town manager. The two groups were Developmental Associates based out of Durham and the Waters and Company based out of Dallas with branches in Richmond and Los Angeles. Representatives from both companies pitched to the council for over half an hour each. Afterwards the council debated the merits of each. The majority of the council believed that Waters and Company would do a more comprehensive national search while Development Associates would do a better backend with behavioral and emotional analysis. The majority of council also believed that both companies would provide top candidates. After being stuck 3 to 3 on which one to choose I finally agreed to support Waters and Company. Based on their timeline we should have narrowed down candidates and have an idea of who we want to select by early December. Our work session lasted about two hours.

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Topics of discussion included sales tax redistribution, bond referendum date, historic tax credit, and budget conferees getting closer to agreement. Our meeting concluded after about 30 minutes.

Sunday I attended the 30th anniversary of the Friends of the Page-Walker event. There were about 100 people in attendance including former Mayor Koka Booth and several former council members. It was a who’s who of Cary’s history for the last 30 years. The ceremony lasted about half an hour and included three speakers. The first two speakers, Anne Kratzer and Brent Miller, talked about the history of the Friends of the Page-Walker. I spoke about the importance of the Friends to the town of Cary. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:

“…On behalf of the Cary Town Council and the 153,000 citizens who call Cary home, I want to congratulate the Friends of the Page-Walker on 30 years of enriching our community. We’ve seen you assemble to serve as guardians for the Page-Walker Arts & History Center, advocate for the preservation of Cary historic sites, archive history for tomorrow’s residents, and generally promote the cultural arts in our community.

You have evolved from a grassroots single purpose organization into a multi-faceted group that provides on-going services to the people of Cary. Our unique and close working relationship helps make the Page-Walker Arts & History Center the valued community resource that it is today. It truly is a prime example of a private/public partnership that works.

At the Town of Cary we value our volunteers and believe an involved citizenry is the hallmark of a strong community and an effective government. Because of you, Cary has arguably the highest quality of life in Wake County. We know that with you, we will achieve the best results through effective teamwork, strategic partnerships and community participation. …”

After the ceremony the crowd enjoyed ice cream, provided by Ashworths Drugs, in the courtyard. There was even a photo stand in where council member Bush and I had a picture made. I left after about two hours.

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about an AT&T installation, a comment from an anti-abortion advocate, a complaint about the lines at the food truck rodeo, a comment about mailing addresses, a complaint about safety at West High and Cary Parkway, and several invitations to events and meetings.

Next week includes a regularly scheduled council meeting, the Chamber Leadership dinner, an India Independence celebration, and an International Community Day event.

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

• Sunday, August 02nd, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was a typical non-council meeting week made up of mostly meetings.

Monday I met with a representative of CALEA for our police department accreditation. The purpose of CALEA’s Accreditation Programs is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence. CALEA’s goals are to: strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities; formalize essential management procedures; establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices; improve service delivery; solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and increase community and staff confidence in the agency. They spoke highly of our police department and I believe the interview went well.

Later Monday I attended a Holly Brook neighborhood meet and greet. When the Holly Brook sewer system failed in the early 1990’s, the Town worked with the homeowners and Wake County on a mechanism whereby the Town would receive wastewater from the subdivision and treat it at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. Twenty plus years later the residents came to the Town requesting annexation. Unfortunately the statutes changed and the Town was unable to make this happen without legislative action. Representative Nelson Dollar Senator Tamara Barringer and the entire Cary legislative delegation supported the Town’s request for annexation on behalf of the residents. The bill passed and Holly Brook became part of the Town of Cary on July 1. Town staff, Mayor Pro-Tem Smith, and I were on hand to answer questions and talk to the residents. I was there a little over an hour.

Tuesday I met with the town manager, deputy town manager, and assistant town managers for our weekly meeting. In our conversation we discussed scheduling issues and for-profit requests for town services. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Later Tuesday I met with a developer, the developer’s representative, and a property owner about a proposal at Ten-Ten and West Lake Roads. We discussed the merits of the project and concerns that I and others have expressed. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Wednesday I met with organizers of Cary’s first professional tennis championships. Positioned to begin at the conclusion of the US Open, the Cary Tennis Championships, an ATP Challenger Tour Event, will attract many of the top ATP professionals and capitalize on the excitement created from the biggest Grand Slam. Cary is afforded the opportunity to host this annual event as a result of our efforts to get the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Training Center here. Although, we lost that effort to Orlando and Mickey Mouse, we did make a huge impression on the USTA. The tournament will be the week of September 14th and I hope everyone will show up and show the USTA how many tennis enthusiast we have in Cary.

Friday I had the privilege of participating in the retirement ceremony for Police Chief Pat Bazemore. What an amazing person! We will miss her greatly. She became a mother and a high school dropout at 17. But her determination and drive led her to be one of the greatest law enforcement officers in Cary history. She had many firsts:
• First DARE officer
• First School Resource Officer
• First female Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Deputy Chief, and of course, Chief
She was a leader in the state and represented Cary well:
• North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police (past Region VII president)
• North Carolina Police Executives Association (past Vice President)
• North Carolina Training and Standards Commission
• North Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program, Board of Directors
• FBI National Academy Association
Through her leadership Cary became and remains one of the safest places in America to live, work, play, and raise a family. God bless her!

There is an ongoing process for selecting the next police chief. Deputy Chief Godwin will be acting police chief during this time.

Emails from staff include the 2015 2nd quarter report. Here are some of the notable items:
• Cary’s population is 153,865 as of July 1st which is a 2.7% increase for the last 12 months.
• 164 acres were annexed this quarter
• The town has 37,212 acres or about 58 square miles
• 444 single family lots, 58 townhomes, and 29 multi-family units were added this quarter
• The average single family dwelling was 3854 square feet compared to 3571 square feet in 2011.
• Cary had the 2nd most single family permits in the county. Cary permits were 15.2% of the total and Raleigh’s was 19.2%.
• Cary now has over 25,000 manholes, 917 miles of pipeline, and 43 pump stations.
• Cary’s property crime increase 11% while violent crimes dropped 33%

Emails from citizens this week included a comment about the US Postal service, a complaint about cable installation, and a conspiracy accusation from a Morrisville resident about my vote on the golf course amendment.

Next week’s activities include several meetings, several candidate meetings, a quasi-judicial hearing, a meeting with consultants about hiring the next town manager, and an event with the Friends of the Page Walker Hotel.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 9th. 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.