• Sunday, February 07th, 2016

Harold2015This week was much lighter than last week which was a welcomed change.

Monday I had a brief meeting with the Interim Town Manager and the Assistant Town Managers. I provided feedback of the council/staff working retreat and they provided information from a staff’s perspective. We also talked about a project that is being reviewed that will have multi-family residential downtown. This project will extend from Chatham Street around to Academy Street and is next to the Baptist Church and will include structured parking. We also talked about the new library site and the issues being worked out with the county.

Tuesday I met with representatives from WakeUp Wake County and Advocates for Health in Action. The main reason for this meeting was to discuss the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) in Wake County programs. These programs are described as a holistic, evidence-based approach for improving child safety and health and providing more opportunities for children to walk and bike to school or at school. SRTS programs encompass a range of school and community-based initiatives, which include a combination of engagement, education, engineering, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation. Through a four year grant the Wake County Public Schools System joined with the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center and other partners to work with five schools to improve child pedestrian safety through the creation of model SRTS programs that can be replicated in other schools across the district. Northwoods Elementary in Cary was chosen as one of the participating schools. Each of the model SRTS schools is developing an action plan that will be implemented and evaluated over a twelve to eighteen month period.

Later Tuesday I met with NC Representative Gale Adcock who was the former District D representative in Cary. The official purpose of these meetings was to thank her for her service, bring her up to date on things happening in Cary and ask her what hopes and expectations she has for the 2016 short session. In addition, to performing this official duty it was a pleasure to spend time with one of my best friends talking about things in Cary and the legislature. We had a great conversation that lasted about three hours. She is doing a phenomenal job representing Cary and municipalities in general. She is also focusing on issues rather than politics which make political parties very uncomfortable. Good for her!

The first Thursday of each month is usually reserved for quasi-judicial matters. This month we had no items so the council used the quasi-judicial time period to call a special meeting. In the special meeting we approved a subcommittee to review the Town Clerk applications and make recommendations to the council. The approved subcommittee included Council members Bush, Frantz, and Smith. Next the council went into closed session to discuss matters reserved for attorney-client privilege. Afterwards, the council came back into closed session and adjourned. The subcommittee then convened with the HR Director to discuss applicants. They will meet with the entire council within the next couple of weeks to make their recommendations.

Emails from staff this week included a reminder that Morrisville Parkway will be closed for 6 months starting on Monday, February 8th. The section of road closed is near the Park West Village Shopping Center between Bristol Creek Drive and Crabtree Crossing Parkway. The closure is needed so an NCDOT contractor can build a rail overpass and eliminate an at-grade roadway-rail crossing. In addition to the bridge, the project also includes about 1 1/2 miles of railroad construction between Morrisville Carpenter Road and Cary Parkway. That includes the realignment of railroad curves that should improve track speeds and reduce travel times between Raleigh and Charlotte. There will also be minor roadway improvements along Morrisville Carpenter Road at Town Hall Drive, Davis Drive at Morrisville Parkway, and N.C. 54 at Weston Parkway. All the work should wrap up in late spring 2017. This NCDOT road closure will cause a lot of problems for the residents of Cary and Morrisville who live in the area. That is very unfortunate. Hopefully, the end product will be worth the trouble.

In other email from staff council was presented with the quarterly update through December of 2015. Here are some of the interesting points from that update:
• Population was estimated to be 155,918 which is a growth rate of 2.8% for the last 12 months.
• The town was 58.57 square miles.
• Permits for 382 single family and 140 non-residential units were issued.
• The average single family dwelling was 3,721 square feet compared to 3,758 square feet in 2011.
• Cary had 14% of permits in Wake County which was second highest to Raleigh.
• Solid waste and yard waste curbside collection continue to increase while recycling has flattened out.
• The town collected 33,966 tons of waste last year.
• Our peak water demand was on September 23rd at 19.1 million gallons a day (mgd). Our current capacity is 40 mgd which will be expanded this year to 56 mgd.
• Our wastewater plant treated an average of 17.1 mgd last year.
• Violent crime was down 21% last year.
• Part 1 property crime was up 4% and Part 2 property crime was the same as last year.
The entire report can be viewed at http://townofcary.uberflip.com/i/635085-2015-4th-quarter-report.

Emails from citizens included:
• A comment about Wegman’s coming to Cary.
• A comment about Internet Exchange locations.
• A comment about the Cary Tennis Park expansion.
• Several comments in support of a Publix in west Cary.
• A comment about the Belle’s restaurant closing.
• A complaint that the town was moving too fast in downtown construction projects.
• A complaint about an employee at Herb Young.
• Several requests to meetings and events.
• A couple of requests to do a shorter version of the State of the Town Address.

Next week will include a regularly scheduled council meeting, a version of the state of the town address to the Triangle Community Coalition (Strategic members are realtors and the homebuilders association), an opening event at the Mayton Inn, judging the Puppapalozza event, and a few meetings.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 14th. 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, January 31st, 2016

Harold2015This week was one of the busiest weeks I will have this year.

Monday began with calls to council members since this was a week of a regularly scheduled council meeting. I was able to reach all council members except Robinson. I asked council members about their concerns and questions on the upcoming meeting agenda. In my individual conversations with council members comments were made about the Holy Brook rezoning, potential artwork for the future parking deck, and the public hearing for the Maynard Comprehensive Plan request.

Later Monday I met with management, directors, legal, public information, and administration to go over the items on the meeting agenda. Our meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

Following the agenda meeting I joined the Mayor Pro-Tem in a meeting with the Interim Town Manager and Assistant Town Managers. We discussed several items including the Jones House and the Belle restaurant, snow/ice removal, and several other items.

My last event Monday was the award ceremony and reception for the Lazy Daze grants. My welcome remarks included the following points:
Key points:
• This year the committee offered community groups $35,000 from the 39th Annual Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival that took place on August 22.
• Since the program’s inception, the town has returned over half a million dollars to the community or roughly $650,000.
• Lazy Daze is the largest and longest running cultural arts festival the Town produces each year, and one of the largest in the southeast.
• Due to construction last year’s setting was at town hall campus and was a successful event.
• This year’s 40th Lazy Daze will also be on town hall campus where we hope to have another successful event.
After my remarks I joined council members Yerha, Smith, and George in handing out grants to various organizations. Everyone then adjourned into the lobby for refreshments.

Tuesday the council held a work session on the Eastern Gateway. This is a section of town bounded to the north by Chapel Hill Road, to the east by I-40, to the south by Walnut Street, and to the west by Maynard Road. The Eastern Gateway plan is part of the Imagine Cary Comprehensive plan. Council’s discussion focused on the state site which goes from the Wake Med soccer facility to Cary Town Boulevard. Council also discussed the impacts of that site to surround properties like the mall. Here are some points made at the work session:
• Development on the state property should be intense with density.
• Development should be integrated and avoid separate stand-alone uses.
• Multi-family housing should include condos and apartments.
• Office buildings along I-40 should be large.
• Development on the state property should complement the mall site and not compete with it.
• Plan should take into account what is in Raleigh across I-40.
• Council decided to remove a statement in the plan about tax base. It was originally included to exclude certain types of institutional uses that do not pay taxes. Instead council doesn’t want to rule out anything.
• Council decided that a focus group that would provide input to plan would be beneficial but should not be limited to certain groups.
• Council decided that the Eastern Gateway should be pulled out of the Imagine Cary Planning process to move at a faster pace since there are development interests on the state site and the mall site. It will be integrated into Imagine Cary once that is finished.
Staff will bring back additional information about the Eastern Gateway in a little over a month.

Wednesday morning I gave the State of the Town address to about 150 people in attendance at Prestonwood Country Club as part of the Cary Chamber’s monthly breakfast series. I spoke from 30 slides that I had created from the official address which can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHcMLlZ0OTc. My talk lasted about 30 minutes, was less formal than the official version, and included additional information and side notes. There were just a handful of questions afterwards.

I began collecting data for the State of the Town address about two months ago. The text was written between the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, fact checked the first couple of weeks in January, and taped for YouTube last week. This was my first live presentation. My next live presentation will be at the Triangle Community Coalition in a couple of weeks, and then at Glenaire after that. Each will have different versions and time lengths to match the audience and time available. All will be a subset of the official State of the Town Address and include updates.

Wednesday night was a regularly scheduled council meeting. There were five public hearings and five discussion items. Most of the speakers were county residents next to the proposed rezoning of the Holy Brook subdivision (most of which is already built). They wanted the zoning to match county standards of 1 unit an acre. After much discussion the council voted to approve the proposed rezoning of one third of an acre minimum for lot sizes. Another discussion item was the appropriation of funds for the parking deck. Council decided not to add a sprinkler system but did approve public art. The reasons mentioned in support of the art were that the parking structure was across from the arts center and because it was in an area that is the focal point of art. The council also had a good discussion on the proposed storage unit behind the Mayfair Plaza that is anchored by Carolina Pottery and Food Lion. This will go to the Planning and Zoning board for their recommendation and return to council for a vote at a later location.

Thursday I traveled to Greensboro for the council-staff annual working retreat. The focus of this retreat was infill and redevelopment.

We started by hearing about what is going on around us. Lee Worsley from the Triangle J Council of Governments made a presentation that included the following interesting points:
• This area grew by 800,000 people from 1985 to 2010.
• It is expected to grow by 1 million from 2010 to 2035.
• In 2012 235,000 people crossed counties to go to work.
• Cary reduced gas consumption by 6100 gallons in town vehicles.
• North Carolina ranks 9th nationally with people over 65.
• We have as many seniors as people as do people younger than 17.
• The region has grown together quickly so we have to quickly learn how to work together.
Next we had a presentation from Bob Geolas who is the President and CEO of the RTP Foundation. Some of the points he made included:
• 60% of companies have 20 employees or less.
• The RTP model is old making it difficult to attract new research companies. The asset for RTP is the universities that surround it.
• RTP is losing younger companies because they are looking for flexible space.
• The new model for RTP is to have a common center as a hub. The old Governors Inn area was purchased for this purpose. Transit will have a hub there that will provide a transit circulator around RTP.
• The new center will have a Global Service Center to market RTP to potential companies.
Next staff presented information about infill and redevelopment. Some of the information provided included:
• 46% of land was available in 1996. 17% is available now if approved plans are included.
• One third of residential housing is 40 years or older. The lifespan of a house averages about 40 years. Structures over 40 years old reach a point where it cost more to maintain than just tear them down.
• Other cities wait for infill and redevelop. The act once areas are blighted.
The council then took a walking tour of downtown Greensboro. Downtown developer Roy Carroll hosted us in his home which was the entire 17th floor of the old Wachovia building which he redeveloped. From the view at the top of the building we could see several redevelopment projects which were discussed. Thanks to Mr. Carroll for opening his luxurious home to us.

The final presentation of the day was from the Planning Director of Greensboro. She presented examples of how painful infill can be with residents. She pointed out that infill can be more valuable to developers since services (water, sewer, fire protection, and police protection) are already in place.

Friday the council and staff took a guided bus tour of several infill and redevelopment projects in Greensboro. We heard about the difficulties in each project and the public private participation to make them happen. It is interesting that in Greensboro there were many foundations participating in projects. We need that in Cary!

Lunch was in the Greensboro coliseum with the Greensboro mayor, council, and staff. I was not seated with a council member or the mayor so unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity for any in depth conversations. However, based on what I was told and observed they are dealing with several difficult issues including racial issues. The topic that was apparently discussed at other tables was whether or not to require police body cameras. I was able to speak with several staff members including a brief conversation with the city manager. The Greensboro staff and the City of Greensboro were great hosts throughout our visit and I made sure to point that out in my remarks to the group.

After our visit to the coliseum we returned to our meeting room to continue discussion on infill and redevelopment. The council spent a significant amount of time in an exercise that separated the council members into groups with various members of staff. Our exercise was to plan the redevelopment of an older area of town. For the exercise the Mayfair plaza that is anchored by Carolina Pottery was chosen. At the end of the planning exercise the council presented their plans to the group. It was interesting that most council members, including the newest council member, designed the site in pretty much the same way. Expanding the park behind Carolina pottery, protecting existing neighborhoods, having smooth transitions between density and uses, having significant green space, nice features, structured parking, and mix of uses dominated the plans. The main differences between the plans were the density. The exercise showed staff how the council thinks about redevelopment, the density they preferred, and the details that were important.

Our day concluded with staff and council summarizing all we had discussed on infill and redevelopment. This is just the beginning of our continuous discussions on these topics. All staff returned home and the council remained with its direct reports (town manager, town attorney, and town clerk).

We spent half the day talking about what to expect from each other and how we should communicate with each other. We ironed out details on a quick efficient way to contact and communicate with each other. We also discussed various protocols needed in our work together.

The retreat was successful and something we can build off of. Thanks to all the staff for the hours of preparation in making this happen.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• Support for a Publix on Green Level.
• A complaint about the town plowing neighborhood roads.
• Comments about Belle’s restaurant closing (BTW, they were having issues before the streetscape. Apparently they didn’t pay taxes or the equipment providers. However they did pay the town rent. We are very sorry to see them close. The restaurant had great food and they will be missed. The town will make sure that site is occupied with another vendor as soon as possible.)
• A concern about Wegman’s not coming to Cary. (It is my understanding they may consider multiple locations in Cary.)

Next week will be much slower for me and I look forward to having dinner with my wife for a change. The only things on the calendar are a few meetings and a quasi-judicial hearing.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 7th. 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, January 24th, 2016

Harold2015This week included tapings for Cary TV, meetings with regional groups, and an ice storm.

Monday night I met with the Wake County Mayors Association. All mayors were present except Mayor McFarlane of Raleigh. New mayors included Mayor Olive of Apex, Mayor Roberson of Knightdale, and Mayor Gray of Wendell. I had spent time with Mayor Olive previously and he seems to be a great guy. While I had previously met Mayor Roberson, this was the first time I had the chance to sit down and talk with him. He is involved with Wake Tech in addition to being mayor and is very impressive. I didn’t get much time to talk with Mayor Gray and look forward to more conversations with her in the future. She did mention that our former town clerk, Sherry Scoggins, is “whipping them into shape”. In our meeting we discussed the association’s financials and then went around to each municipality’s mayor to get an update. I am very impressed with the 11 other mayors in Wake County and think we are all blessed to have such great leadership in our county.

Tuesday I did the State of the Town taping for Cary TV. The official 2016 State of the Town address is over 3300 words. Since the average pace of speaking is about 125 words a minute, it takes almost half an hour to give the address. The taped address was broken into three pieces with three different camera angles. The producers loved the first piece and there was only one take. The last two pieces had two takes each. The whole process took about an hour. The edited version of this taping should be available to the public next week. I will give it live for the first time next week at the Chamber breakfast.

On Wednesday I attended the meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (CAMPO) Executive Board representing 29 governing entities covering Wake County and surrounding counties. CAMPO may not be familiar with many so I took the following is from their website to help explain:

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) grew from a collaborative effort between Cary, Raleigh, Garner, and Wake County known as the Greater Raleigh Urban Area Thoroughfare Plan of 1964. During the 1980s and 1990s Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell, Zebulon, and Wake County joined the MPO. In early 2005 MPO invited a number of governments in the surrounding counties to become members. Many accepted, and as of October 1, 2005, the Capital Area MPO expanded its planning boundary to include parts of Franklin, Granville, Harnett, and Johnston counties, including the municipal governments of Angier, Clayton, Creedmoor, Franklinton, and Youngsville. Most recently, after the 2010 Census, the Town of Archer Lodge was incorporated within the MPO’s boundary and became a member of the MPO. These counties and towns which border the expanding Raleigh Urban Area were invited to join MPO in order to comply with federal regulations that require the MPO to coordinate transportation planning in all the areas that will be part of the “Raleigh urbanized area” within the next twenty-five years. The Capital Area MPO serves as the coordinating agency between local governments, NCDOT, and FHWA. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is comprised of three parts: the Executive Board (formerly the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC)), a Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC), and a staff. The MPO is responsible for carrying out an annual work program that is focused on developing and implementing the long-range transportation plan and is approved by the Executive Board.

At this meeting there were only three items of interest to Cary residents. First, I was re-elected to serve as the Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee. Second, Cary’s White Oak Greenway MacArthur section is schedules to receive over $2 million in LAPP funding. LAPP or the Locally Administered Projects Program was adopted by the NC Capital Area MPO on October 20, 2010. CAMPO uses this program to prioritize all projects in the region that will utilize federal funding that is the responsibility of CAMPO. Those responsibilities include programs such as Surface Transportation Program – Direct Allocation STP-DA, Congestion Mitigation for Air Quality (CMAQ), etc… The LAPP process involves a once-a-year call for all local roadway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects, and results in an annual program of projects in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

The third item of interest to Cary was that Northwoods Elementary was selected as part of CAMPO’s Safe Routes to School program. Our meeting concluded after about an hour.

Thursday I joined council member George in taping the February episode of Cary Matters. The main topic was an update on road and park projects. The taping lasted about an hour.

Friday through Saturday Cary experienced an ice storm. Most of us saw an ice-sleet-freezing rain mixture of up to 2 inches. About a quarter of an inch of ice accumulated on trees and power lines causing power outages for thousands. The good news is by Sunday morning most of Cary had power. And by Monday night all residents will once again have power.

Cary’s A team did an excellent job of clearing the roads. By lunch on Saturday most of the primary roads in Cary were clear and most of the neighborhoods had at least one pass through. The goal was to get close to normal by Monday morning so people could get to work. Given the resources we have I thought our Public Works crew did an outstanding job. God bless all of them for working around the clock to get us up and running again.

Emails from staff this week included an update on the Morrisville Parkway project which began construction in May 2014. NCDOT has announced that Morrisville Parkway, between Crabtree Crossing Parkway and Bristol Creek Drive/Quail Fields Court, will close as early as FEBRUARY 1, 2016 to traffic. Signs will be posted directing traffic to follow the detour route – NC 54, Cary Parkway, High House Road and Davis Drive. All businesses on Morrisville Parkway will be accessible during the closure from NC 54. It is anticipated that the road will open back up August 1, 2016. Construction is expected to be complete in May 2017. Over the last several years, the Town of Cary and Town of Morrisville staffs have been coordinating with NCDOT on the project, and are getting ready for the planned detour. The detour will have an adverse impact on traffic flow and congestion along the planned detour route. In advance of the detour, NCDOT has made some minor intersection and traffic signal improvements along the detour route to help minimize the impact. The Town of Cary Traffic Management Center (TMC) staff will be implementing new signal timing changes along the detour route in order to keep traffic flowing as best they can. They expect traffic volumes will be higher along the detour route; therefore, delays will be expected since adjustments to signal timing cannot fully mitigate roadway capacity issues. The Town of Cary has also recently installed several traffic cameras (CCTV) at several critical locations along the detour route, including the intersection of Cary Parkway and High House Road. TMC staff can monitor traffic operations using the CCTV cameras and make timing adjustments as needed to optimize traffic flow. The TMC staff will be coordinating with NCDOT as the construction progresses. NCDOT will be making a traffic alert announcement advising the public on the road closure and detour. The Town of Cary normally picks up this NCDOT alerts and reposts them to the public through our normal Town sponsored communication protocols like emails and social media. Additional information on the project can be viewed at the NCDOT website: http://www.ncdot.gov/projects/morrisvilleparkway.” It will be interesting to see how people adjust to this potential traffic nightmare.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• A few nasty emails accusing council of trying to prevent public comment because of a staff mistake posting a Planning and Zoning Board public hearing.
• Objections to a proposed Publix
• Support for a Wegman’s which is not been proposed to or approved by council.
• A complaint that Cary is deforesting. (Cary has some of the strictest rules in the state. And, oh by the way, the state is lessening local rules – like stream buffers.)
• A complaint about the lack of a traffic signal at High House and Jenks Carpenter. (This has been investigated several times and does not meet DOT criteria.)
• A demand for closed session information about the town manager search from a former council candidate. (By law we can’t do that.)
• A request to redevelop the mall. (It is against the law to spend public funds on private property.)
• A suggestion that we change signal timing at Cary Parkway and High House Road.
• A complaint about the rail crossing on Harrison Avenue.
• One of the kindest emails I have ever received as Mayor thanking me for my service. Thank you Ms. Frame!

Next week will be very busy for me. In addition to typical group meetings there will be an award ceremony for the Lazy Daze grants, a work session on the Eastern Gateway, a regularly scheduled council meeting, my State of the Town Address to the Cary Chamber of Commerce, and the council-staff working retreat Thursday through Saturday.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 31st. 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, January 17th, 2016

Harold2015This was a typical week in the mayor’s office with a few small meetings and a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Monday was very busy and started with a call to all council members to hear of any questions they may have had on the agenda for the Thursday regularly scheduled meeting. I was able to contact all council members except Robinson who was out of town. There were a few questions about a right-of-way issue from council members.

Later in the day I met with management, directors, public information, legal, and administration to review the agenda for Thursday. There were no issues of note and we expected the meeting to be short.

Following the review of the agenda I met with the Interim Town Manager and the Assistant Town managers to get updates on a few items. The Academy Street and Dry Avenue intersection is about done and is waiting on asphalt. Hopefully the asphalt can be put down once it is warm enough.

In another update, the town will also be working with a developer who is planning a downtown project that will require a public/private partnership on parking. So it is possible to have another parking structure nearer the Academy Street and Chatham Street intersection but I believe this is at least a year or two from being a reality.

Updates were also provided for the Mayton Inn. The Mayton House will be moved to the Mayton Inn site and will be the home of the owners of the Inn, the Crossmans. It is scheduled to be moved on Monday, January 18th in 2 pieces. The move is expected to take about 2 hours. The movers are expecting light traffic since January 18th is a MLK Holiday. The Mayton Inn soft opening planned for January 26th. This will be their test run and have guests sleeping in the hotel. The Grand Opening is planned for Saturday January 30th. Unfortunately this happens on the same day as the last day of the Council/Staff working retreat in Greensboro. Hopefully some council members and staff will make it back in time to attend.

Monday evening the council went into closed session to discuss the town manager and town clerk vacancies. First the council talked with the consultant about the town manager search. The consultant will take that feedback, make small adjustments, and repost the position. The council will get a report from the consultant and start their involvement about six weeks after the position posting. Next the council discussed the town clerk position. Council will have this vacancy posted on NeoGov which is viewed by most people in the town clerk field. Council also named Virginia Johnson as the Interim Town Clerk during the search time.

Wednesday I met with Wake County Public School System Chair Christine Kushner. She has ties to Cary having grown up on Academy Street. In our meeting we talked about what is being planned by the town near and long term and also what is being planned by the school system. We both believed that strengthening our partnership will help as we move forward. Our conversation included specifics such as the lack of middle schools in western Cary, the naming of schools, and if future schools can use repurposed structures. The meeting was very productive and I am confident the school board is aware of all of our issues.

Later Wednesday I met with our newly appointed Interim Town Clerk. We talked about Mayor and council expectations and how we can best work together in this interim time.

Thursday I joined five other council members in the dedication of the Sister Cities direction sign located on town hall campus. This sign includes the name of each if its four sister cities partners – Le Touquet, Hsinchu City, County Meath and Markham – their distances from Cary and country flag images. The sign, which commemorates Cary’s sister cities relationships, was installed on Town Hall campus where it will remain until the completion of the downtown park, where it will be placed permanently. Visible from the sidewalk and North Academy Street, the design matches that of Cary’s other wayfinding signs. The sister cities’ names are placed the pole in order of their official designation and the sign blades are oriented as correctly as possible to the direction of each sister city location. The sign pole is expandable and can accommodate additional blades as new sister cities are added.

Later Thursday the council held our first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. The council had two items for discussion. The first item was to consider a staff recommendation to refinance $23,560,000 in existing General Obligation bonds to save the town an estimated $1,268,075 in debt service over the next 14 years. The council agreed and approved this recommendation unanimously.

The second item was to consider a rezoning proposal to allow a daycare center with a maximum of 8,300 square feet and a two-story office building with a maximum of 13,300 square feet to be located on O’Kelly Chapel Road. This proposal was subject to design standards and conditions specified in an associated Preliminary Development Plan (PDP). At the original public hearing there were concerns expressed and opposition to the proposal. Since that time changes were made and all parties seem to be in agreement. Based on this information the council had little discussion and the proposal was passed unanimously. The meeting, which lasted about an hour, concluded after council returned from closed session.

Friday I had a conversation with school board member Fletcher who provided information on school construction. This information will be made public at the school board meeting on Tuesday.

Saturday I had the pleasure of making welcoming remarks at the International Diversity Summit which was part of the MLK Dreamfest series held at the Cary Arts Center. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:

“… A lot of people don’t realize just what a diverse community Cary is. Not so long ago, a survey reported that only 5 percent of adults living in Cary were actually born in Cary. We’re proud to have such a diverse community, and it’s events like this that help keep our community strong and successful as we get to know the values, experiences, and talents we each offer, like the great program planned for today.

Diverse as we may be, the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are a message that resonates with us all. Dr. King once said that “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.” Like King, we at the Town of Cary value the quality of life of our citizens, and we will continue to promote activities that encourage diversity in our community. …”

After my remarks a panel of six pastors discussed diversity in the church. It included Caucasian and African American pastors. The discussion lasted close to two hours and was absolutely fascinating. I could have listened to the discussion for a couple more hours. I would recommend everyone watching the YouTube version once it becomes available.

Cary received another accolade this week to add to the long list it already enjoys. Forbes reports that Cary is one of the 10 safest cities in the U.S. for driving in bad weather. While that is an outstanding accolade it is my hope we avoid the bad weather altogether.

Emails from staff this week included an announcement that Cary will once again host the NCAA Division 1 Women’s College Cup this fall. This event will be held December 2nd through the 4th. Originally this year’s College Cup was slated to take place in Orlando, Florida but the NCAA Women’s Soccer Committee decided to move this year’s women’s soccer championship due to the recently announced venue completion date of 2017 of the Orlando City Soccer Club Stadium.

In another email from staff council was notified about the status of the railroad crossing at Northeast Maynard and Harrison. Staff had a positive discussion with CSX, Norfolk Southern and DOT recently and is optimistic that they will be able to improve the situation at both crossings. For the Northeast Maynard crossing, CSX can’t go back and lower their tracks but Norfolk Southern appears willing to conduct similar maintenance work off-cycle and raise their tracks. However, there is a cost that someone would have to absorb. Their target for this work is February but it is dependent on the weather and availability to secure the materials and a crew needed for the work. For the Harrison crossing, the Town is scheduled to resurface Harrison as part of our annual street improvement program from Adams Street to Chatham. As part of this resurfacing, we will pave up to each set of tracks, so once this is complete, it should help with the approach and departure near the tracks. The resurfacing work is scheduled for this Spring. In the interim, “Bump” signs have been installed by DOT and the Town at both locations.

Emails from citizens this week include:
• Concerns about the decline of the Cary Mall
• A request to have sun screen dispensers and public venues
• A concern about the loss of historic structures
• An accusation that council is deliberately posting information to prevent people from attending public hearings
• An email campaign related to the proposed Publix grocery
In case you are wondering, email campaigns are typically ineffective with this council. Filling up their email boxes with cut and paste messages or the same message over and over is an irritant at best. A better way that will have a bigger positive impact is to have one messenger with the signatures and support of many people.

Next week the pace picks up for me. On my calendar is a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, the State of the Town taping, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board, and the February taping of Cary Matters.

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

• Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Harold2015This week was a lighter week than expected due to two cancellations.

Monday’s meeting with the interim town manager was very brief and we only talked about a couple of construction updates.

Wednesday I was scheduled to meet with the owners of the mall but since there was a quasi-judicial matter at our Thursday meeting and since we are not allowed to discuss anything related to the matter with anyone, the meeting was rescheduled for February.

Thursday the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for two cases. The purpose of a quasi-judicial hearing is to hear proposals for special use permits, certain subdivision and site plan applications and for certain other applications. The quasi-judicial hearing is an evidentiary hearing which means decisions must be based on the written and oral evidence presented. Unlike legislative decisions (like rezonings), a quasi-judicial decision must be based solely on the evidence presented and cannot be based on opinions of members of the council.

Our first hearing was to consider a sketch site plan to develop a commercial building on a 3-acre portion of the Cary Towne Center property located at the intersection of Southeast Maynard Road and Cary Towne Boulevard. The proposal included modifications to the Town’s development standards, including streetscape widths and roadway setbacks. This was a continued hearing from November. After the evidence was presented the council approved the request unanimously.

The second hearing was to consider a special use and site plan to construct a 4,979-square-foot addition to the existing 7,261-square-foot Point church on Walnut Street. The proposal included modifications to the Town’s requirements for a removal of three champion trees, for a reduction to the minimum required width for a perimeter landscape buffer, and for a reduction to the minimum required width of the streetscape. After the presentation the council approved the requests with little deliberation.

Saturday I was supposed to participate in the Three Kings Day Parade in Cary. This is an annual parade put on by Diamante that showcases Hispanic/Latino costumes, music, and song. Unfortunately the parade was cancelled due to the prediction of stormy weather. As it turned out the weather was fine.

Emails from staff included the construction and activity report for the month of December. Points of interest include:
• The Middle Creek Community Library was approved
• 308 multi-family units were approved
• For the year there were 332 townhomes, 517 multi-family, and 768 single family houses approved
• The average single family dwelling was 3553 square feet compared to 3485 square feet in 2011
• Cary had a little over 10% of Wake County’s single family homes permitted in November which was the 4th most in the county

Emails from citizens this week included:
• A complaint about the bump on Harrison over the railroad (NCDOT project)
• A complaint about a water main issue in a neighborhood
• And a complaint that council wasn’t doing enough to help Cary Town Center mall

Next week will include a closed session to decide how to proceed with filling the vacancies of the town manager and the town clerk. The week also includes a meeting with a school board member to discuss issues in Cary, the unveiling of a sister cities sign, a town council meeting, and a panel discussion at the International Diversity Summit.

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

• Sunday, January 03rd, 2016

Harold2015Happy New Year! This will be my first journal entry of 2016.

Monday I had my weekly one-on-one meeting with the interim town manager. We discussed issues related to the meetings later in the day. We also discussed the state site across from the mall and the upcoming proposal by Columbia development. Our meeting lasted less than half an hour.

Later in the day I represented Cary in a meeting of the Cary-Apex Water Treatment Facility Advisory board. The first agenda item was to consider granting an easement allowing the Town of Apex to cross jointly owned property at the water treatment facility. This was so Apex could install electrical transmission lines. The request was approved unanimously. The committee also agreed to alternate meeting sites between Cary and Apex.

Next was a meeting of the Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory Committee to consider granting Apex an easement across jointly owned property at the Beaver Creek pump station. This was so that Apex could install electrical transmission lines. The request was approved unanimously. The committee also agreed to alternate meeting sites between Cary and Apex.

These committee meetings were my last mayoral duties of the year.

Emails from citizens included:

  • A complaint about Cary Newspapers littering streets
  • A complaint about wasted electricity at the tennis courts for Annie Jones park
  • A complaint about the uneven road on Cary Parkway (the portion in Morrisville)
  • A complaint about the inaction of Congress and the Legislature regarding global warming.
  • Several Happy New Year well wishes

Next week will be an average work week in the mayor’s office. It will include a quasi-judicial meeting, a meeting with developers, meetings with management, and the 3 Kings parade on North Academy Street.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 10th. 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, December 27th, 2015

Harold2015This will be my last journal entry of the year.

Monday I returned from a visit with my oldest daughter in New York. We had a great time and saw an unbelievable light display in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights. We also did the typical touristy things like visiting Rockefeller Center.

Monday night I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha and council member Bush at the annual Mayors Association holiday banquet. We were entertained by the Raleigh Boys choir and joined them in version of 12 days of Christmas called the 12 mayors of Wake County which was written by Mayor Stohlman of Morrisville. Each municipality had something associated with it and the number. And the municipalities were in reverse alphabetical order. This meant that Cary had eleven and our verse was “eleven Cary ordinances”. After dinner the mayors introduced council and staff from their respective municipalities. Only council members were present from Cary. There was no staff present for the first time I can remember.

The rest of the week was spent with family and friends enjoying the holiday. Unfortunately, I injured myself on Christmas Eve which severely limited my mobility and I was unable to participate in Christmas Eve services as an usher which is a Weinbrecht tradition. Hopefully, I will have a full recovery in the coming days so that I can enjoy some of the time away from my job at SAS.

Sunday I had the honor and privilege of a late celebration of Chanukah with council member Bush’s family. While I am not Jewish, I love celebrating with them and consider them extended family. Even though Chanukah has passed they decided to hold it at this time so their daughter, who was coming home from overseas, could celebrate with them. As usual, we had a fantastic time.

Emails this week included an economic development summary for the year from the Vice President of Economic Development. This year 1523 new jobs and nearly $76MM in new capital investment were tracked and involved the chamber’s economic development team. These numbers represent the ones that the Cary Chamber/Economic Development had direct knowledge of. There were more that were not included in these numbers.

The summary also included accolades for Cary and the Raleigh/Cary metro area:
• # 4 Safest City in the Nation, SmartAsset, Cary, (Nov. 17, 2015)
• #6 on ‘America’s 50 Best Places to Live,’ 24/7 Wall St., Cary, (Nov. 9, 2015)
• #7 Small American Cities of the Future for Economic Potential 2015, Financial Times, Cary (April 13, 2015)
• #1 City in North Carolina to Get a Job, Zippia, Cary (June 1, 2015)
• #7 Best City for Economic Potential, fDi American Cities of the Future, Cary, NC (September 2015)
• #10 Happiest Suburb in America, Movoto, Cary (June 16, 2015)
• #8 Healthiest Housing Market, Wallet Hub, Cary, NC (August 2015)
• #2 Best Cities to Work for a Small Business 2015, WalletHub, Raleigh MSA (May 8, 2015)
• #6 on 2015 ‘Best Performing Cities’ list, Milken Institute, Raleigh-Cary Metro, (December 9, 2015)
• #3 Best Metro Areas for STEM Professionals 2015, WalletHub, Raleigh MSA (January 14, 2015)
• #2 Cities Creating the Most Technology Jobs 2015, Forbes, Raleigh MSA (April 14, 2015)
• #3 Fastest Growing U.S. Metros 2015, The Brookings Institution, Raleigh MSA (February 2, 2015)
• #5 Community with the Most Pride, Gallup, Raleigh MSA (May 15, 2015)
• #10 Best Destination for Recent College Graduates, American Institute for Economic Research, Raleigh MSA (May 14, 2015)
• #4 Best Public High School in North Carolina (Green Hope High School, Cary)
• #11 Best Public High School in North Carolina (Panther Creek High School, Cary)
• #2 Up-And-Coming City for Tech Jobs. ZipRecruiter, Raleigh MSA (July 1, 2015)
• #11 for Population and Wealth Growth, Selfstorage.com, Raleigh-Cary, (July 2015)
• #3 Big City Where White-Collar Employment is Booming, Forbes, Raleigh-Cary (July 2015)
• #2 Area for Life Sciences Employment, BioSpace, Raleigh-Cary (August 2015)
• #4 Area for Technology Jobs, Simply Hired, Raleigh-Cary (August 2015)
• #3 Metro for Finding a Job, Career Builder, Raleigh-Cary (June 2015)
• #6 Metro for Economic Growth, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Raleigh-Cary (June 2015)
• #4 best Metro for College Students, Forbes, Raleigh-Cary (Nov 25, 2015)
• Among 2015 Best Hotels in the USA Winners (The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary), U.S. News and World Report (January 27, 2015)
• #1 in the U.S. for trick-or-treating, Nextdoor, Cary, NC (October 2015)
The report also mentioned at least 45 ribbon cuttings for businesses within town.

Emails from citizens this week were very light. This is highly unusual for me since this is the time of year when I receive the nastiest of complaints. But this week’s only complaint was about the free Cary Newspapers littering the street (which I have mentioned before). Other than that there were no complaints and instead a few well wishes for the holiday season.

Next week’s schedule will continue to be light. My main focus will be writing the State of the Town address. I will also meet with the interim town manager and have dinner with the Mayor of Holly Springs.

I hope you and your family have a safe and Happy New Year!

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

• Monday, December 21st, 2015

Harold2015This week was the last full week before the long holiday break.

Monday I had my weekly one-on-one meeting with the Interim Town Manager. We discussed the downtown park, development on Chatham Street, streetscape issues, right-of-way issues, and the council-staff working retreat. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Tuesday the council held a work session to review and approve the goals of the town’s boards and commissions. Staff and council liaisons worked with their respective boards to update the goals for this coming year to make sure they align with the town’s mission statement and statement of values. The work session consisted of each board chair presenting their goals and then answering questions. After all boards had made their presentation the council unanimously approved the goals. The work session lasted about 45 minutes.

Wednesday I met with several representatives from Columbia Development. They are retail developers that are interested in the site bordered by Cary Town Boulevard, Maynard Road, Chatham Street, and I40 called the state site. This is a significant portion of the Eastern Gateway for Cary. They presented a sketch plan which showed office, apartments, and retail. The council is planning on reviewing the Imagine Cary chapter for the eastern gateway at the end of January. Early next year Columbia development is planning on entering an application for this property. In the meeting I suggested that they attend the council discussion on the Eastern Gateway for proceeding. Our meeting concluded after about half an hour.

Later Wednesday I taped the January episode of Cary Matters with council member Frantz. The main topic of the episode is the town manager search process. Other topics included the future downtown library, legislative action that impacts how council votes, and information about the new community garden. Our taping session lasted about thirty minutes.

Thursday I met with a young lady interested in getting politically involved on a local level. Our meeting included how I initially got involved in politics and my philosophies. Then we toured the council chambers of offices.

Friday I joined the entire council in the dedication of the new Firestation #2 on Chatham Street. The old Firestation #2 at the corner of Maynard and Cary Town Boulevard was renamed to Firestation #9 and will house 1 truck and 5 fire fighters per shift. The new Firestation #2 will house 27 firefighters operating on three shifts. Here are excerpts from my remarks:

“… A former Michigan State Senator said “Firefighters are essential to the safety and security of our local communities. We owe it to these men and women to provide them with better training and equipment so they can do their jobs more effectively and safely.” I choose his words because he so aptly described how we feel about our firefighters here in Cary.

Nationwide, firefighters are beloved and revered. And rightly so. We call on these brave men and women to rescue our loved ones, save our property and belongings, and for every emergency imaginable.

The love for firefighters is shared here in Cary, and the results of our most recent biennial survey in 2014 confirm this. Our citizens gave our fire department the highest marks for any Town department – an A+ for response time, problem solving, courteousness, fairness and competence.

In 2012 Cary citizens showed their support of our firefighters by overwhelmingly passing the Fire Station Bonds Referendum. It was through our Bond Initiative that we’ve been able to build this, our newest station. While I understand that our firefighters don’t like the phrase “home away from home” we’re proud to be able to give our heroes this “almost” home away from home.

The Community Bonds also allow us to work towards several important goals we have at the town. First, we want to make sure fire department emergency travel times in Cary are five minutes or shorter. Our new station will help with that time. And, second, we want every firefighter trained not only to put out fires but also as an emergency medical first responder. In doing so, we’re able to save not only property but lives. …”

After remarks the joined the council in uncoupling a fire hose in front of the bay doors rather than cutting a ribbon. Then the council took a tour of the facility. Thanks to the citizens of Cary for allowing the town to build such a great facility.

The rest of the weekend was spent in New York with my wife and oldest daughter.

Emails from citizens this week included:
• Comment about an upcoming rezoning on Ridgeback road
• Complaint about non-electric cars parking in recharging spots at the Cary Arts Center
• Complaint about a downtown business owner
• Complaint about free Cary Newspapers littering streets
• Complaint about last week’s blog from a former candidate for Cary council
• Request to trim weeds on an unpaved road in the Preston area
• Comment about a rezoning request on O’Kelly Chapel Road
• A proclamation request
• Several requests for meetings

Next week is a holiday week and the only official duty I have is attending the Mayors Association holiday banquet. I will spend the rest of the week working at SAS, enjoying family time, and starting the State of the Town address. I hope everyone finds joy, peace, and love during this holiday season.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 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, December 13th, 2015

Harold2015This week was a very difficult week for me with hard decisions, late nights, and absolutely no time with my wife and family.

Monday I called all council members and the council member elect to hear their concerns and questions about the upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting on Thursday. I was able to contact all council members and there were no major concerns with the exception of a consent item which would reduce council’s decision making authority in quasi-judicial matters. Later in the day I met with management, legal, directors, administration, and public information to go over the agenda items. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

Monday evening the council met in closed session to discuss the matter of hiring a new town manager. The council has spent several months and numerous hours searching for a town manager. It was and is important to the council that the candidate not only qualified but a good fit. As a result of the meeting we issued the following statement to the Cary News:

“The Cary Town Council has agreed that it is in the organization and community’s best interest to conclude the current Town Manager recruitment process, and we’ve instructed our staff to work with our consultants to immediately begin a new search for Cary’s next Town Manager.

We appreciate Deputy Town Manager Mike Bajorek’s willingness to continue to serve as Interim Town Manager through the next recruitment process.

Thanks to staff and the community for giving us the time and support we need to get the job done right.”

We believe the town is in excellent hands with Deputy Town Manager Mike Bajorek. Our next step will be to meet with the consultant early next year. This will also allow newly sworn in council member George time to get up to speed on the process.

Tuesday began with a reception for the council members taking the oath of office. After the meet and greet everyone went inside for the ceremony. I was administered the oath by former council member and NC Representative Gale Adcock. I was joined by my wife who held the Bible. I was followed by Don Frantz, Lori Bush, and then Ken George. After everyone was sworn in we took a brief recess to “set the table”. When the council resumed the meeting Ed Yerha was elected as Mayor Pro Tem. He was nominated by the past Mayor Pro Tem Jack Smith. Once the motion was passed he was congratulated with a hug by Mr. Smith. What a class act. The rest of the organizational part of the meeting was appointments to town boards and appointments to local and regional liaison positions.

After the organizational meeting was completed the council held a quasi-judicial public hearing. This is a formal hearing that is held for special use permits, certain subdivision and site plan applications and for certain other applications. To find out more about quasi-judicial hearings go to https://www.townofcary.org/Departments/Town_Clerk_s_Office/Town_Policies/167_-_Quasi_Judicial_Hearing_Procedural_Guidelines.htm.

The quasi-judicial hearing was for a proposed multi-family project adjacent to Panther Creek High School and I540. The proposal included modifications to the Town’s development standards, a request for the removal of a gumball champion tree, a reduction to required parking minimums, and a waiver of the maximum cul-de-sac length. Council’s deliberation focused on the request for a reduction in parking which was more than 20%. Even with the reduction there were at least two parking spaces per bedroom. After a significant amount of time discussing the matter, the council approved the proposal unanimously.

Wednesday morning I had the pleasure of doing a TV spot on ABC11 for the Carolina Food Drive. This food drive raises money and collects food for approximately 650,000 people who don’t have enough food to eat and struggle to access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary to be healthy. It is my hope that everyone will support the needy families in our region by giving to the Heart of Carolina Food Drive.

Later Wednesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, council members Smith, Bush, and George in greeting employees at the town’s annual employee holiday lunch. We shook hand with almost 650 employees in about 45 minutes. Afterwards I gave a few words of thanks to those in attendance. Congratulations to Kelly Spainhour who was named the Town of Cary’s Employee of the Year. She is a Reclamation Facility Laboratory Supervisor at Cary’s South Plant. And a special thanks to all the 1200 town employees that make Cary one of the great places to live, work, and play in the country.

Wednesday evening I joined council member Smith in an Economic Development Committee meeting. This committee is made up of chamber members, members of the business community, town management, council members, and the mayor. We discussed three items which included a proposal by the Information Services Advisory Board (ISAB), a presentation on the East Cary Gateway, and an economic development report.

The ISAB has been exploring issues surrounding Cary citizens’ access to town information. The board identified eight underserved groups. They proposed a printed guide to provide information that would also be on the town’s web site. After discussion it was agreed that the ISAB would take our feedback and meet with chamber representatives before making a proposal to council.

The second part of the meeting was a discussion on a chapter of the Imagine Cary process plan focusing on the Eastern Gateway into Cary. This area is bordered by Chapel Hill Road, I40, Walnut Street, and Maynard Road. We discussed the biggest areas of opportunity and agreed that the state site which is next to Wake Med Soccer Park just off of Cary Town Boulevard has the most immediate potential. The committee agreed that the site should be focused on employment and Class A office with other mixes of uses in support. It was believed that this could help redevelop nearby areas such as the mall and trailer park. The consultants agreed to take our feedback as part of shaping the policy for the Eastern Gateway proposal to council.

The committee’s last item was a review of economic development in Cary. Here are some of the notable items from this report:
• Cary’s unemployment rate is 3.7% as of the end of September. Wake County is 4.5%, North Carolina is 5.5%, and the United States is 4.8%
• Align Technologies, maker of Invisalign, announced its first east coast operations in Cary. They plan to invest $4 million and create over 100 jobs with an average of $109,000. These will be mostly IT jobs.
• DB Global Technologies will be expanding by adding 250 jobs over the next two years. The company plans to invest $9 million through the end of 2016. This will bring their employment in Cary close to 1000 jobs with an average of $86,000 annually.
• There has been interest expressed to locate a large group with about 500 jobs to downtown Cary. They would need 100,000 square feet of office.
• CoFounders Capital, located in downtown next to the Cary Theater, continues to make investments in local startups. Since opening in July they have made 6 investments totaling over $1.8 million dollars and they currently have 12 different companies working out of their space.
• There are numerous medium and small companies that continue to express interest in relocating in Cary.
The committee concluded its meeting after about an hour.

Thursday before the council meeting I joined Emily Barrett, the town’s Sustainability Manager, in accepting a check on behalf of the town. The $54,000 check was presented by David Booth of Wells Fargo bank as part of the Cary Green Neighborhood program. Thanks to Mr. Booth and Wells Fargo for caring and investing in Cary.

Thursday night’s regularly scheduled council meeting had 20 items on the Consent Agenda, 6 Public Hearings, and 11 items for discussion. Decisions included making the Lazy Daze festival two days long and amending the architectural standards for the town center to require less masonry. The council also approved the sidewalk priority list which postponed the Walker Street sidewalk until next year’s budget. There was no action taken on the request to buy the Coronado Village pond. Staff stated that it would take $90,000 to study the issues related to the pond. In other action, a house on Trimble Avenue was purchased by the town because of flooding. This is part of the Policy Statement 35 Drainage Assistance program. The council also approved round 33 of the Land Development Ordinance Text Amendments. Part of those amendments give the council less control over quasi-judicial matters and site plans. Our meeting adjourned after about 3 hours.

Saturday I was honored to be able to give remarks at the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Hillcrest cemetery in Cary. Here is an excerpt from my comments:

“… Since the founding of this great country, millions of our men and women in uniform have died so that we can live freely. They are someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle and the list goes on. They will never be forgotten by their families, nor should they be forgotten by their communities and their country. If you’ve been able to watch the videos on Wreaths Across America’s website, then you’ve heard families of fallen service people talk about how their loved ones can never be replaced, but that the pain is softened by the fact that they are remembered. Through the work of Wreaths Across America and its volunteers, we have this occasion to come together and help demonstrate that our service men and women have not been forgotten. And that we honor them. And that we are grateful.

We’ve heard it said many times and it remains true: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. The enormity of what our service members have done for us is humbling. How can we ever truly thank those who gave their lives to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy?

Today is also an opportunity for us to reflect on the meaning of our stars and stripes, the idea of democracy, and how we can unite with others to ensure a better future for all. We should show our gratitude to our fallen heroes by emulating them – by looking for ways we can make our community and our country better places. …”

After the remarks and ceremony attendees laid wreaths at the graves of service men and women. There are over 100 veteran grave sites in Hillcrest cemetery.

Later Saturday I was part of the annual Jaycees Christmas parade in Cary. This year’s parade was different from previous years in that it was held entirely on Chatham Street because of the construction on Academy Street. It started at Ward Street and went to West Street. The weather was almost perfect but was bordering on warm with temperatures in the low 70s. By my estimations, it was also the biggest crowd I have seen at the Christmas parade since I have been mayor. I was riding in a 1981 MG MGB convertible which unfortunately died after about half a block. Parade observers quickly came to our rescue and pushed the car to the side. I then jumped in to a convertible with council members Frantz, Yerha, and Smith. We had a great time waving at everyone and throwing out candy. I personally threw out seven bags of candy during the route. A good time was had by all and this is one of the great perks of being an elected official in Cary.

Emails from staff this week included an update on the rail crossings at Harrison and at Maynard which were recently modified. According to staff CSX has indicted the problem was caused by Norfolk Southern. Cary’s goal for customer service response time is much higher than the railroad’s so we continue to wait for them to address concerns. The town staff assured us that they were doing all they could to help get this situation resolved. They noted that they solution to the problem at Maynard requires raising or lowering the tracks which would be very expensive and would not happen in the near term. They stated that they may come to council for a request which, if approved, would mean that Cary taxpayers would pay for someone else’s maintenance responsibility.

Emails from citizens this week include:
• A complaint about construction in downtown Cary.
• A complaint that construction in downtown Cary is blocking businesses.
• A complaint about cruelty to pets.
• A complaint about rail crossings (NCDOT maintains them).
• A request to approve a second Publix grocery in Cary.
• A threat from a former council member candidate stating that he will create an organization of thousands to challenge many council decisions.
• A request to spruce up roadside maintenance.
• A request for a Google Fiber update.
• A complaint about emissions from a town truck.
• A request for a public swimming pool.
• Several requests to speak or be a part of events.

Next week will slow down a little. My calendar includes several meetings, a taping of Cary Matters where the main topic is on the search for the new town manager, and a work session on the boards and commissions 2016 goals and work plans. The week will end with a trip to Brooklyn to visit my oldest daughter.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 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, December 06th, 2015

harold2011_small2This week was a very important week for me, the town council, and the Town of Cary as we continued the process of hiring a new town manager.

Monday the council spent several hours conducting second interviews with two outside candidates for the town manager job. It is important to understand that while there are candidates capable of doing the job, the council is looking at the intangibles to determine who would be the best fit. We spent about 2 hours with the first candidate in the morning and about 2 ½ hours with the second candidate in the evening.

Tuesday the council went into closed session for over six hours. This included a second interview with an internal candidate and to deliberate on the town manager selection process. While I can’t disclose what we talked about I can say that each and every member of the council was fully engaged and passionate on making sure we got the best person for the job. I can assure everyone that we left no stone unturned as we evaluated, in great detail, each of the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

Wednesday I gave welcoming remarks for VIPs attending a reception for the NCAA 2015 Women’s College Cup which was held in Cary over the weekend. The College Cup is the Division I national championship for soccer. Cary is hosting this event for the 11th time. This event generates about $4 million in economic benefit for the region and is one of the town’s showcase events. We consider ourselves an amateur sports mecca as we host national championships, international events, and Olympic trials in several sports. Kudos for the town staff who keep Wake Med Soccer Park a premier facility and all the College Cup partners: Campbell University, CASL, and Raleigh Sports Alliance.

Thursday I had the joy and pleasure of attending the opening show of Cary Player’s “Dashing Through the Snow.” It was a great performance and the set was spectacular. My wife and I were honored to be the ugly sweater contest judges. The winner was more festive than ugly but it definitely deserved recognition.

Saturday morning I gave welcoming remarks at the 12th Annual Ole Time Winter Festival held in downtown. This festival, which is put on by the Heart of Cary Association, included entertainment, arts and crafts, food and food trucks, and plenty of joy to put you in the holiday spirit. I took the opportunity to buy my first gift of the season.

Saturday evening I had the honor of introducing the 2015 Official Tree Lighter at the town’s official tree lighting ceremony. This year’s special tree lighter was Pat Bazemore who recently retired as Cary’s Police Chief. The entertainment was great and I estimate the crowd was the largest yet. It seemed that everyone enjoyed themselves. I know the kids did.

Emails from staff this week included an update on Academy Street streetscape project, specifically the Kildaire, Dry, and Walnut Street area. Staff has phased the project to complete the southern end first beginning with the intersection of Walnut Street and Kildaire Farm Road. They anticipate this intersection will be completed by the middle of January and another six weeks after that to complete the intersection with Academy Street and Dry Avenue. Estimates have two-way traffic resuming along Kildaire Farm Road and Dry Avenue from Walnut Street to Harrison Avenue by the end of February weather permitting.

In another staff email we were notified that citizens who own real property in Cary will begin receiving reassessment letters from Wake County as part of the county’s eight-year property revaluation process. Cary residents who live in Chatham County will not revaluation until next year. It is important for citizens to understand that the reassessment notice is not a tax bill. Tax bills are sent after July 1st of each year. So citizens will not receive a tax bill that reflects the new assessed value until the middle of 2016. Property owners have the right to appeal to the county their property’s new assessment. That process is a county function and not a town function.

Emails from citizens included a request for a swimming pool in west Cary, a question on street closings in downtown, a complaint about free Cary News littering the street, several comments about a lady who taped her dogs mouth shut (which was on national news), a complaint from a business about parking lot lights on Academy Street, a complaint about an upcoming rezoning, and a complaint about a Children’s Day Proclamation.

Next week my schedule will continue to be busy with a week of long nights. Included will be a special meeting to discuss the town manager hiring process, a council meeting to swear in 4 council members including me for my 3rd term as mayor, a quasi-judicial hearing, the town’s recognition luncheon, an economic development meeting, a regularly scheduled council meeting, a ceremony for Wreaths across America at Hillcrest cemetery, and the Cary Jaycees Christmas parade.

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