Harold’s Blog: The Cooper Case and Other Stories

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through May 8, 2011. Photo of  Cary Town Hall by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, North Carolina – This week consisted almost entirely of meetings. It ended with the graduation of my oldest daughter from college.

Monday: Immigration Law

Monday’s first meeting was via telephone with the Challa Law Offices. I talked with Mrs. Lakshmi Challa who just opened an office in Morrisville. Her business deals mostly with immigration issues. They located their offices in this area because of the large Indian population. She expressed an interest in getting involved in the community and I welcomed her involvement and offered to do what I can to help her business become more successful.

Monday: Business Permitting & Inspection

Later Monday I met with the owner of a Public Relations firm in downtown Cary who has had a lot of difficulty opening her business. It was important to me to find out exactly what these difficulties were so that the town can address any necessary procedural or policy changes. We promised to stay in touch and work closely on future issues.

Tuesday: Town Officials

Tuesday I met with the town manager and downtown manager to discuss issues with starting a business downtown. The town is currently reviewing many policies and procedures related to downtown.

Tuesday night I met with council member Adcock to catch up on a number of issues. It had been a long time since we talked and I believe it is important to stay in touch with council members to know what they are thinking and why.

Thursday: Downtown

Thursday was a busy day for me. I started by attending the Heart of Cary meeting where council member Adcock was the featured speaker. Before she spoke the General Manager of the Cary Invasion basketball team gave a few brief comments about the new team and their plans. It is exciting that Cary has added another sport to its long list of featured sports activities. The Cary Invasion will be playing their games at the Herb Young Center. I wish them great success.

Following the Cary Invasion comments, council member Adcock gave her views and thoughts of downtown. She prefaced her comments on the fact that two council members, the mayor, and the town manager have already given their thoughts. Her comments focused on the area around the Cary Arts Center and are best summed up by her slides. Here are some of the key points from her slides:

  • Her vision includes a downtown that is vibrant, a destination, balanced, additive, unique, timeless, and a place for living working and playing.
  • The town’s focus areas for downtown are: park land, transportation projects, a new Cary Library, the Cary Depot, and the Cary Arts Center.
  • 67% of the 13 acres needed for town property downtown have been purchased. The first property was purchased in 2003 and the latest in 2009. There are ongoing negotiations for remaining properties. $4 million appropriated for this purpose.
  • Downtown roundabouts have received $1 million from CAMPO. There will be 1 or 2 roundabouts at East and West Chatham using standard paving materials.
  • The Walker Street tunnel design is 90% complete but there are no funds allocated for the $30 million in construction.
  • The Cary Depot is currently being expanded and renovated. It will include ticketing and baggage handling. There will be additional parking. The renovations are expected to be completed in the fall of 2011.
  • The Cary Arts Center construction is near completion. Programs are expected to start in the June and July time frame with the grand opening scheduled for August.

Thursday: Fitness

Thursday afternoon I met with a representative from the Wake County Council on Health and Fitness. The main purpose of this meeting was to find out what the town is currently doing in fitness so that they could help highlight those activities. I directed her to Parks Director Hopkins for more detail. We then talked about ways where I could help get involved to help their program.

I explained that I am viewed by some as a fitness fanatic and start each day with a couple hundred crunches, then do weights, and later in the day at least an hour and a half workout. So I am very interested in getting others in to being fit. By the way, in case you don’t know Cary is a “fit community”. So if you are not fit I would invite you to start working out (a little at a time of course).

Thursday: Operations

Thursday evening I substituted for council member Smith at the Operations Committee meeting. There were several items on the committee agenda that we did not discuss and by default these will be on the May 12th council consent agenda. Several items were discussed by the committee. Since we unanimously agreed on recommending approval to these items they will go on the council consent agenda for May 12th.

The items we discussed included accepting Sustainability grants, a recommendation to close a total of 39 utility projects thereby eliminating approximately $12.3 million in unissued revenue bond debt and returning approximately $8.7 million to utility capital reserve fund balance, a recommendation appropriating $100,000 from general fund balance to the Budget Office contracted services account for the initiation of a comprehensive external review of the Town’s existing transportation development fee and transportation improvement system structures, a recommendation for road and sidewalk waivers for the Veterans Freedom Park, and a recommendation to enter into a formal agreement with NCDOT to include a grade-separated crossing as part of the bridge replacement over the White Oak Creek at Green Level Church Road in conjunction with the bridge replacement project.

Thursday night I met with a person representing small businesses on the subject of the Western Wake Wastewater Treatment Facility. He asked that businesses with annual revenue of less than $5 million be included in the contract awards for the plant. I promised I would discuss this with the town manager since I am not directly involved with contracting.

Friday: Proud Papa

Friday after lunch my wife, younger daughter, extended family, and I headed to Asheville for my oldest daughter’s graduation. It was a great weekend and I am so proud of her. She will spend the summer working in Cary before heading off to graduate school in New York.

Mailbag: The Cooper Case

Emails this week included many about the Cooper case. Some complained about the unfair portrayal of Cary and Lochmere while others complained about the police department’s handling of the case.

The Nancy Cooper case was a sad and tragic chapter in Cary’s history. Our town manager and police chief did a great job of addressing our police department’s involvement in this case. I have the utmost respect and trust of our police chief and her department and I think they do a superb job day in and day out. They are a major reason we remain one of the safest places in America. I am proud to be associated with such a fine police department.

I believe the newspaper did a hatchet job on one of the premiere communities in Cary, Lochmere, especially in the story ‘Case was Lifestyles of the “Popular” and “Affluent”‘. There are a lot of great people and families that live in Lochmere and they do not deserve implication that they are something they are not. Cary is a great community and one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. One of the main reasons for this is the people that call Cary home and yes that includes Lochmere.

Mailbag: Potpourri

Emails this week included complaints about the Bowden case as the media, once again, rehashed old news giving the perception that we have lost another court battle. It is very important for everyone to understand that we have only lost the one case and only asked the judge to reconsider. Now we are finally in a position to appeal which the council decided to do weeks ago. To find out more I would urge everyone to read the Cary Citizen’s article on this case, my past blogs, or go to the town’s FAQ on this case athttp://www.townofcary.org/Departments/Administration/pio/bottomline/faq-bowdenappeal.htm.

I also received an email this week that included a drawing of the huge Park West proposal in Morrisville at Cary Parkway and Highway 54. You can view this at http://nc-morrisville.civicplus.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=1469. Included in this drawing are the phases which will have a significant impact on the traffic. Basically, the traffic will get initially better and then worse as the project builds out into the later phases.

Other emails this week included a complaint about restrooms at Dunham Street Park, a complaint about the Booth amphitheater holding rock concerts, a complaint about a broken pipe on private property, and complaints about the apartments proposed at Tryon Road and Cary Parkway.

Next Week

Next week will be another busy week for me. It will include a council meeting, a meeting of the Western Wake Partners on the new treatment plant, an award ceremony for teachers, and a couple of talks that include a toastmasters group and a Turkish-American cultural organization.

Get in Touch

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 15th. Please feel free to email me with a comment. Email all Town of Cary questions or comments toHarold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org. Email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.