Harold’s Blog: Transit, Storms, Permits, Buses on Highways, Downtown and More

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through April 24, 2011. Photo of farm on Louis Stephens Roads by Hal Goodtree.

This week kept me busy with dinners and meetings.

Monthly Mayor’s Meeting Monday: Transit and Storms

The mayors association met for their monthly meeting Monday night. All twelve mayors of Wake County were in attendance.

Discussion focused on transit for a large portion of the meeting. The mayors were all in agreement that “doing nothing” for transit was not an option.

We also discussed matters being considered by the general assembly. The mayors agreed on two resolutions (being prepared by Mayor Killen):

1) local governments should have the authority to decide whether or not to allow billboards. The mayors unanimously oppose current legislation being proposed related to billboards.

2) Local governments should have the authority to decide whether or not to have red-light cameras. The mayors unanimously oppose current legislation being considered relating to red light cameras.

The mayors also discussed damage from the Saturday storms in their communities. Holly Springs Mayor Sears praised Fuquay and Apex for assistance. Mayor Sears and Mayor Meeker of Raleigh discussed the level of damage in their communities. Mayor Eagles of Rolesville also talked about some damage. The rest of the communities’ mayors said they were blessed not to have significant damage.

My understanding of Cary’s damage: roof pealed back on Quality Brakes on Chatham; Starbucks on Kildaire reported roof damage but it was related to clogged drains; there were 14 calls of trees down on power lines or homes; as far as I know no destroyed homes in Cary.

Interesting note about debris in Cary… You may have noticed insulation, pieces of roof, metal, etc., everywhere in Cary. Yesterday I found half a check. The name and address was from Sanford. The N&O showed the map of the storms. One went over Sanford, then Holly Springs, and then over Cary before heading to Raleigh. That would explain the debris and the check.

Permits – Fear of Retribution?

Tuesday the town manager and I had our weekly meeting. We discussed half a dozen issues.

I brought up the issue of the Cary Citizen article on downtown complaints. That article states it is difficult to get permits downtown and some are afraid to complain for fear of retribution. The fear of retribution should NEVER come into play when dealing with the town and the town manager agreed. He assured me that if he found any inkling of this type of behavior that it would be dealt with swiftly.

As far as the process for permitting, that should always be up for review and discussion. The town manager said staff is already looking into this.

Elections Discussions

Later Tuesday I attended a private meeting for a couple of hours. As election season gets closer there will be more and more of these. Some of these meetings will be with candidates and some with groups.

NCDOT Reports: 3 Lanes on I-40, Storm Pick-up, Buses Allowed on Shoulders

Wednesday CAMPO TAC (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Advisory Committee) met and approved everything on the agenda without much discussion. See http://www.campo-nc.us/TAC_Agenda/2011/Agenda-TAC-2011-04-20.pdf for items on the agenda. If you look at the agenda you will notice that there is a NC-540 working group being formed that will include several mayors and town managers. Cary will be part of that group. At the end of the CAMPO meeting there was interesting information reported from NCDOT:

•3 lanes will open on I-40 from Harrison to US1 starting on Monday
•NCDOT will be picking up storm debris (including whole trailers) in a 35 mile swath. In Wake County they will contract the pickup.
•NC is starting a study which if implemented would allow buses on shoulders of roads. This idea, which is used in other parts of the country, has restrictions. These restrictions include not allowing these buses no shoulders where the speed is 65 mph or greater, buses always go 15 mph slower than the speed (in 45 mph they would go 30 mph, etc).

Downtown Discussions

Thursday I met with downtown manager Ed Gawf immediately after a meeting he had with a group of developers hosted by council member Robinson. That group included local developer McGinnis and the Crossland developers of Davis Drive and High House fame. In my conversation with Mr. Gawf we discussed a wide range of ideas and thoughts related to downtown. His comments focused on narrowing the concentration to the Academy Street area which makes sense. It is extremely important for the town to capitalize on the amazing Cary Arts Center which is set to open soon. I am excited about the thoughts and ideas he has for the short term. We will be discussing them in the upcoming budget session.

Later Thursday I, along with council member Smith, met with the developers and stakeholders from the New Waverly Place project. They are moving the project along as scheduled and should be open sometime in the summer. They were interested in community events and how they could get involved. I look forward to the opening of this shopping center and the potential for a public private partnership in events around this part of town.

Friday town hall was closed in recognition of Good Friday.

5K Run to Benefit the World Wildlife Federation

Saturday morning I participated in the second annual “run for their lives” 5K Run to benefit the World Wildlife Federation. This fund raiser was the brainchild of 17-year-old Jessica Stober who is a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Her teachers at Johnson Tae Kwon Do encourage all students to do community service and to take ownership of that service. They have many students, as young as five years old, giving back to the community. What a wonderful program and I was very glad to be a part of Jessica’s.

Email: Speeding, Tryon/Cary Pkwy, Soccer Fields, Mosquitos, Bowden and Thanks

Emails this week include complaints about speeding at Glade Hill Drive and Serene Forrest Drive, a complaint about bicyclists not obeying traffic rules, complaints about the Tryon Road and Cary Parkway proposal, a complaint about Davis Drive soccer fields, a complaint about mosquitoes in water meters, and a concern about our sign ordinance as it relates to the Bowden case.

There were also several positive emails. In addition to very kind and gracious invitations, I received thanks for attending events, thanks for the work done in Cary to control litter, and wishes for a Happy Easter.

Next week will be busy with a council meeting, a work session on redistricting, a taping of Cary Matters, two breakfast meetings, and some private meetings.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 1st. Please feel free to email me with a comment. Email all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org. Email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.