Harold’s Blog: IKEA, Environmental Goals and More

Cary, NC – This week was a slower week than normal and will be the last slow week for a while.

Monday – Environmental Goals

Monday I joined several key staff members as we met with a representative from NCDEQ (North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality). The representative was visiting municipalities across the state to hear of what each municipality is doing related to the environment and issues they may be having in achieving their environmental goals. In our conversation we talked about water, wastewater, transportation, buffers, and specific environmental initiatives we have implemented over the years. She was very impressed and asked how they could help. We noted that our biggest concern is legislative actions that attempt to remove our authority to govern. For example, one of the latest harmful legislative proposals would reduce our buffers from 100 feet to 50 feet. Experts will tell you that the first 50 feet of that buffer is where the nutrients are removed so it is very important. She vowed to work with us on issues.

Later Monday I met with the town manager for my weekly one-on-one. We talked about several items including quasi-judicial hearings, a downtown business, a meeting with Jim Goodman, the mall redevelopment, the Silverton proposal at Evans and Cary Parkway, a potential Eastern Gateway consultant, and the annual council retreat date and location.

Tuesday – IKEA and Eastern Gateway

Tuesday I had an interview with a reporter from the Triangle Business Journal on IKEA and the Eastern Gateway. I spoke about my vision of how I thought the Eastern Gateway would develop and how it would eventually one day merge with the downtown redevelopment. Our interview lasted about 15 to 20 minutes.

Tuesday night I had the honor and privilege to introduce Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha and his campaign kickoff event. It was attended by well over 100 people and was a who’s who of people engaged and involved in the town. It should be noted that town staff are not allowed to attend any campaign events.

Thursday – Development Plans

Thursday I joined the Deputy Town Manager in a meeting with a representative from Columbia development. The purpose of the meeting was a follow-up of our visit to Alpharetta, a review of rezoning and site submissions to the town, and to answer any questions I may have. With the zoning proposal were dozens and dozens of conditions to help assure the town of all the things we have seen and been presented. The rezoning will probably come to council in January for a decision. The project is so massive that I believe council may need a work session before the January meeting so that we can dive deep into the details of the conditions. Our meeting ended after an hour.

Later Thursday I joined council member George in an episode of Cary Matters. I wrote this episode to focus on volunteering since I frequently get requests from organizations and citizens of ways they can volunteer. If you would like to volunteer in some way to help Cary become greater than it is today please contact us.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Preparing for Potential Severe Weather

Staff is actively preparing for severe weather forecasted for our area later today. In addition to continuing to monitor conditions, we are implementing the following precautions:

  • The Fire Department is adding one ladder-company and one shift supervisor to augment the emergency response capability. We are also prepared to implement inclement weather dispatching protocols if necessary.
  • Public Works will have customer service staff for citizens to call x4090. The facilities and maintenance group and operations staff will be extending work hours.
  • Utilities staff is ready to implement its High-flow Management Plan.
  • Police will have the Watch Commander available to coordinate any special requests.
  • We have contacted tree removal contractors in the event their services are necessary.

Bloomberg Mayors Challenge

Fifteen cross-organizational staff members and Councilwoman Bush participated in Bloomberg’s Mayors Challenge Idea Accelerator Workshop on Wednesday in preparation for submitting for the Challenge. Cary is one of 300 cities participating in the workshop, which is designed to help develop ideas that solve the most urgent problems facing cities today. Our focus is the opioid epidemic. The grand prize winner receives $5 million to implement their idea.

It was a fantastic day full of great ideas and amazing collaboration. We are all excited and energized to keep the momentum going. We truly believe that Cary will play a leading role not only in our community and state but the world by developing a tool kit where municipalities can understand the health of their community through actionable data.

Harrison Bridge Project Update

As an update to previous conversations, staff recently met with the NCDOT Rail Division to discuss the Harrison Bridge project. The tunneling option was eliminated; the three remaining options (all bridging over tracks) continue to be studied. The discussion also included kick-off of the Maynard project, where both options (under the tracks and over the tracks) will be re-evaluated. On the Maynard project, detouring during construction will be a concern that staff will monitor closely. Additionally, this week staff met with the consultant and NCDOT regarding the US-64 project to evaluate options and discuss access, design and public involvement.

Water Transfer to Durham

Cary provided approximately 4 million gallons of water to the City of Durham in two water transfers via the Highway 55 Interconnect Pump Station. The first transfer, on Tuesday, was in support of a scheduled shut down for construction work at one of Durham’s water treatment facilities. The second transfer, which ran Wednesday through Thursday, was made on an emergency basis after an electrical problem at a Durham water treatment facility.

Cary: 4th Best Real-Estate Market in 2017

Cary was named 2017’s 4th Best Real-Estate Market in a recent study from the leading personal finance outlet WalletHub.com. You can find the full study here. To determine the most attractive real-estate markets in the U.S., WalletHub’s analysts compared 300 cities across 21 key metrics. The data set ranges from median home-price appreciation to home sales turnover rate to job growth. Cary ranks 4th overall and 2nd among midsize cities.

Hurricane Harvey/Fuel Impacts

We have been monitoring the fuel situation coming out of Texas and the situation with Colonial Pipeline to understand how it could impact Town operations.  According to the Colonial Pipeline: “Multiple refineries along the Gulf Coast are closed as a precaution against high water. This has caused a cessation of product injection to the Colonial Pipeline. At this moment, diesel seems to be in shorter supply than gasoline. Unbranded prices are rising as a result of this short supply. Carriers report that lines at terminals are lengthening and delivery times are being pushed out to 48 hours or more.”

With this information in mind, we are encouraging staff with Town vehicles to take precautionary methods to conserve fuel. At this time we are maintaining normal operations and our tanks at the Operations Center are topped off; however, we ask that staff with Town vehicles continue fueling your vehicles off site and often. We are keeping a very close eye on this and will certainly communicate any changes in our fueling operations.

GoCary Visits Glenaire 

GoCary staff was invited by the senior advisory members at Glenaire Retirement Community to learn about transit service options for their residents. It was a wonderful opportunity to provide valuable transportation resources, particularly information about our Door-to-Door service. This program allows Cary residents age 60 and older, to travel within the Town limits for any trip purpose. For medical trips, however, the service area can be extended to Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex, and Morrisville. Throughout the course of the presentation, we covered a number of topics including registration process, service areas, fares, hours of service, and related policies. They invited us back in November to hold another presentation, for all residents, and GoCary staff will be joined by staff at the Cary Senior Center. They expressed gratitude for everything the Town of Cary provides for the elderly population.

Cary Selected for TJCOG’s Local Government Showcase

The Town of Cary has been selected to participate in the Local Government Showcase on September 28 at TJCOG’s Regional Summit taking place this year in Clayton. Each presenter will have 5-7 minutes in a Ted Talk fashion to present the program/project and discuss its unique value to the community. Cary’s submission highlighted the urban/rural connection by using a recent example of when Cary helped the town of Autryville purchase a surplus fire truck following an EF1 tornado that completely destroyed its fire station and three trucks.


Thanks to CIO Nicole Raimundo for participating and representing Cary in an hour-long panel yesterday during the North Carolina Digital Government Summit. Nicole joined colleagues from local governments to discuss the issues of working with vendors, defining “smart” in the digital age and accurately measuring success.

And last but not least, huge thanks and appreciation go out to numerous staff, across every department, whose efforts contributed to the success of the 41st Lazy Daze event last weekend!

Emails From Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Compliments for Lazy Daze
  • A complaint about a restaurant that didn’t know about the brunch bill
  • A proposal to create a Transportation Advisory Board (we need a goal and mission before creating any more boards)
  • A complaint about downtown redevelopment is wrong and how we wasted money on the “dog bowl fountain”
  • A complaint about a purchase at Lazy Daze
  • A request not to allow the relocation of the Ivey-Ellington House
  • A complaint about the traffic signal placement on Evans Road and Maynard Road
  • A complaint about one hour parking in downtown
  • A complaint about rail crossing surfaces (NCDOT issue)
  • A complaint about potholes on Maynard
  • A complaint about grass clippings in the street
  • A complaint about town vehicles and how we should use 3rd parties for town maintenance (IMHO inefficient and more costly)

Next week will be busy for me and include an Economic Development meeting, several small meetings, and a trip to Markham, Canada (our sister city).

Get In Touch

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

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

1 reply
  1. Johnny Jones
    Johnny Jones says:

    If aligned properly, East & West Park would be an ideal street to connect the Downtown with the Columbia Development project.

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