Lori’s Blog: Upcoming Landscaping

downtown streetscape

Cary, NC — At our Cary Town Council work session this week, we saw updated designs for the Downtown Park and Streetscape.

I love how this area will entice our citizens to come downtown with a beautiful park, a lovely street, along with our Cary Art Center and the revitalization that is occurring downtown.  With the new fountain and wonderful welcoming streets, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

Academy Streetscape

The streetscape project includes a number of components:

  • “Rooms” at selected locations on Academy Street
  • Modification of the intersection at Academy and Dry – widening the street into the park to provide exclusive right turn lanes onto Academy when coming from Kildaire
  • New light pole options (allowing flags and other hanging ornamentation)
  • Street tree lighting (up lighting and string lighting in the trees.)
  • Benches, with artistic components
  • Electrical infrastructure locations (big power distribution boxes (4 ft tall) and smaller pedestals (18” tall)

Park and Street Benches

Previous to this meeting, council had already given feedback and chose a number of granite benches and the accompanying artwork with a music theme. Some of the benches are shaped like dulcimers, others like violins; I think they will be beautiful. Our goal at this point was to discuss some of the quotes that will be engraved on the benches. The idea proposed was for the quotes to make references to music, dance, singing and song, linking it to our town or state if possible (perhaps by choice of the author) and also to the location.

For example, the dulcimer benches would incorporate quotes from North Carolina poets such as Dr. Maya Angelou and R.R. Richardson.


Overall, I like the concept and idea, and many of the quotes chosen. I had a concern with one of the quotes, however. This one:

“‘Tis God gives skill,
But not without men’s hands: He could not make
Antonio Stradivarious’s violins
Without Antonio.”

My concern with this quote was its mention of God. I am leery of using Public funds to put a quote that mentions God on a public bench. Don’t get me wrong, I like the quote, and I understand that it was hanging in the nearby Violin shop when the artist was scoping locations. But I do believe in the separation of Church and State, and am sensitive to the fact that not all of our citizens would appreciate the expenditure of our taxes on a quote that mentions a God. I suggested another quote – a famous one from William Shakespeare,

“If music be the food of love, play on”

But I was outvoted. Moving on.

Our Park Fountain

The next section covered the fountain – the iconic entry to our Downtown Park.  Presented with sketches and options associated with the fountain, Council was unanimous in our praise of the design – simple, yet elegant. We decided on adding an additional water pump, to provide options for water usage, asked staff for additional costs for lighting, and turned down additions of adding bronze to the bowl and bronze columns. I cannot wait for this fountain to be constructed, and for the first wedding pictures to be taken in front of it. It will be stunning!


Next steps

After staff completes right of way acquisition for the streetscape, we will soon see things happening downtown.  Please be patient as construction begins, and detours are added to allow for the work to move forward.  Here is the timeline:

  • November 2014 – Design complete
  • Spring 2015 – Begin construction
  • Summer 2016 – End construction

As always, thanks for listening and please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.


Story and photos from the blog of Lori Bush, At-Large member of Cary Town Council.


Downtown coverage on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by Heart of Cary Association.


8 replies
  1. Lori Bush
    Lori Bush says:

    Quick update for you. The Town has some Historic Preservation folks looking at it and some items around the Page-Walker. Being one of our most iconic historic buildings, they will take this on with a great deal of care.

    It may be something they do after the Streetscape improvements, though.

  2. Gary
    Gary says:

    Bad Patina Alert:

    Suggestion: along with maintaining the $$engraved granite$$ benches, PLEASE get someone to regularly power-wash (or if too delicate, use a 50-50 water-bleach solution with a weed sprayer) on the mouldy, nasty brick pillars in FRONT of the the Cary Arts Center. The brick pillars can be seen when dining outside at Jones house, etc.

    BTW, The Belle has quite a few Yelp reviews.


    • Lori
      Lori says:

      Gary – I forwarded your comments to our Public Works department late September. Here was the response:

      Work to those pillars were not part of the Cary Arts Center project, as they are the original columns from the school, and they were not to be touched.
      We will explore some light pressure washing, but we want to be careful as to not damage any of the brick and mortar.
      We’ll check it out.

      I will double-check and see what they found out.

  3. Brent
    Brent says:

    Two things:

    1. I find it interesting that our Town Council is involved in the minutiae of things like the detailed design of benches and fountains.

    2. I really, really hope that these beautiful, expensive benches have incorporated some way of keeping skateboards off of them.

  4. Caryfan2
    Caryfan2 says:

    I’ve walked the property several times. It is a perfect setting for an incredible park. So the general public can fully appreciate its potential I suggest that the brush be cleared from the property so the view from one end to the other isn’t obstructed.

  5. Robert Bush
    Robert Bush says:

    Lori, thanks for sharing the renderings. It will be nice to see. Two observations: one, I hope the revisions at Academy & Dry will increase the turning radius. A 40-foot bus used by TTA has a turning radius of 25 feet and I’d hate to see the new streetscape damaged.

    Secondly, I think the use of “God” is fine; that’s a pretty all-encompassing reference and shouldn’t cross the line into making “no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

  6. Len Nieman
    Len Nieman says:

    As I mentioned a couple of Town Council meetings ago, I hope whoever is doing the trees allows for getting around on foot when carrying an umbrella during rains.

    While an aesthetically pleasing streetscape is nice, people also need to be able to get around on business, to shop, or use the library regardless of the weather. That’s not an easy thing to do when it rains with the current tree situation on South Academy.

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