Don’s Blog: Downtown Park and Imagine Cary Update


From the blog of Don Frantz, member of Cary Town Council representing District B.

Cary, NC – The council held a worksession this past Tuesday to discuss the downtown park and Academy Street improvements.

I am pleased to report that a majority of council endorsed much of the 2009 plan as shown below.

Downtown Park Update

Highlights include:

  • Siting the new downtown library and associated parking structure in the park
  • AT LEAST six acres of undeveloped park area
  • Potential for restaurants or other similar uses
  • A town square directly across from The Cary Arts Center
  • Outdoor performance space
  • Water features
  • Public art, gardens and an open lawn area

The majority of discussion centered around how much of the park site to develop and how much to leave as open space.

While one council member felt that we should not be so specific and “let the professionals to do their job”, I couldn’t disagree more. I believed it imperative that we provide specific guidelines to our staff and the design team so that there is no confusion about our intent.

The last thing I want is for the “professionals” to come back with engineering and construction plans that do not reflect the council’s – and more importantly – our community’s vision.

We’ve already been down this road before and left alone the “professionals” proposed a postage stamp park surrounded by intense development. Aint happening.

The proposed Academy Street improvements are pretty cool also – new sidewalks, memory markers (art) that also serves a dual purpose by providing locations for electrical power and water to aid with town festivals such as Lazy Daze or Wheels on Academy, new street trees and landscaping and a complete road resurfacing. Oh, and lights in the trees too!

On a related note, the downtown roundabouts are getting close to completion…thank goodness. I want to thank everyone for all their patience throughout the construction process. It has been difficult I know, but the end is in sight.

Not only will the roundabouts serve as attractive gateway features into our downtown, they will also help to improve roadway geometry and reduce the number of violent accidents we have experienced over the years – especially at the west end where Old Apex Road and Chatham Street came together.

Imagine Cary Update

The council recently held a worksession with town staff and our consultant team to discuss some of our concerns with the process thus far – mainly the issues of bias and that staff and consultants appear to be driving the process more so than our citizens.

The council made it clear that we expect balance in any information we put out to our citizens and that we want more citizen input and less staff presentation. This is the Cary Community Plan. The community should be in the driver’s seat.

After attending the most recent Area Conversation meeting this past Wednesday I have a much better feeling about where we are going. There was essentially no presentation with an hour and a half dedicated to gathering input from citizens. They responded to a number of questions such as “What do you like about Cary?” “What don’t you like about Cary?” “What do you want to see more or less of?” Stuff like that – good stuff that will really help us craft a plan that genuinely reflects the desires of our community – not special interests or consultants.

That’s all for now. As always, thanks for reading!

4 replies
  1. CT
    CT says:

    2009 plan and now is 2013. When will people start making decision and move forward? No wonder, Cary is just way far behind from everybody else.

  2. Robert Bush
    Robert Bush says:

    Sounds like it was a great discussion on the downtown property. I’m glad to see that a significant park is still in the plans, but not one that is so large that it will be under used. Now we just need to come up with some unique feature that will draw people from all over, similar to the carousels in Raleigh.

    For the library, I hope Council is recommending to the Commissioners that it is more than just a library; some retail component would be nice. Greensboro includes a coffee shop in their downtown library, and a bookstore would be a good fit.

    Now all we need to do is figure out what to do with the current library site and the Post Office.

  3. Mike
    Mike says:

    The vast majority of my Downtown neighbors support the 2009 plan. This is very welcome news.

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