Cary, NC –This was a big week that included my reelection as mayor of Cary.
Monday – Preparing for the Week
Monday I attempted to contact council members to hear of questions and concerns about Thursday’s upcoming agenda. Council members commented on the Weston hotel proposal and the public hearing on apartments off Petty Farm Road. Later in the day I went over the agenda items with staff and Mayor Pro-Tem Bush.
My last meeting on Monday was my one-on-one meeting with the town manager. We were joined by Mayor Pro-Tem Bush. We talked about the Weston hotel proposal, the Cary Town Center redevelopment proposal, an overall development report, and other items. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.
Tuesday – Cary Election
Tuesday I briefly attended the SAS Championship Pro-Am pairings party. This was a social event that included a trivia contest to select your professionals that would be playing with you the next two days.
Later Tuesday I joined council members Lori Bush, Don Frantz, and dozens of supporters at Jordan Lake Brewery to watch the election results. This year it took hours for the results to come in and we didn’t know the outcome until after 10 PM. I was blessed to be reelected with 83.9% of the vote.
I am so very honored to have been reelected for my fourth term as Cary’s mayor. I would like to thank everyone who voted for their faith in me. I will continue to serve Cary’s citizens to the best of my ability. I would also like to give a special thank you to everyone who volunteered or worked on this campaign. Your support has been invaluable. Congratulations to my colleagues Lori Bush, Don Frantz, and our newest council member Ya Liu. Cary is an amazing place and I am blessed that I will have an amazing team to join me in shaping its future.
Wednesday – SAS Championships
Wednesday, council member Smith and I along with the Cary Chamber President and the town manager participated in day one of the SAS Championship Pro-Am. We played in the afternoon round with professional was Skip Kendell who was an absolute delight. Our first hole was the island hole where I hit about 5 feet from the pin. We birded that hole and that was probably my best shot of the two days. It was a great time and I enjoyed time with key people from our town.
Thursday – Town Council Meeting
Thursday was the second day of the SAS Championship Pro-Am. We played in the morning round and our professional was Tim Petrovic. He was another great personality and we had a wonderful time.
Later Thursday I taped a welcome message on the Golf Channel. It is basically the same script every year. This year’s script was:
Hello from Cary, North Carolina, where we’re proud to once again host the 19th annual SAS Championship here at beautiful Prestonwood Country Club.
This great tournament is just one of many national and international amateur, collegiate, and professional sporting events we host in Cary at our world-class venues. They’re helping make Cary and the surrounding Triangle, rank among the top sports and visitor destinations in the nation.
Please accept my personal invitation to come visit and see why Cary is consistently named one of the best places to live, work, and play in America.
I completed the taping in two takes (one for safety).
Thursday night the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of October. There were four consent items, one public hearing, and two discussion items. The big item of the meeting was the Weston hotel proposal. This was a difficult decision for many of the council members. I actually changed my mind twice on the day of the vote. Many of the citizen complaints focused on the height of the building and traffic. Some of the points that influenced my decision:
- Weston Office park is planned and designed in the 1980s.
- The office park has about 3% land available.
- Many of the buildings will probably be redeveloped within the next ten years.
- Redevelopment of those buildings will probably require more intensity.
- It is key to be able to retain tenants that employ so many Cary citizens.
- Traffic will get worse even without redevelopment of this hotel because of background traffic as this region grows. We will need to continually improve intersections, sidewalks, greenways, etc. to help the residents and workers traverse this area.
- MetLife already has buildings of this height in the office park.
- A balloon test showed the height of the building in the neighborhoods was not visible or barely visible.
Things that bothered me the most about this proposal was:
- The amount of misinformation being spread.
- Some people didn’t understand that this property would be developed regardless of the height.
- I felt the developer didn’t do enough to work with the citizens. I expect more from those that develop in Cary.
- I felt the developer grossly underestimated the council’s knowledge and experience.
- And of course, the rumors of people being paid to speak in support put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
In the end a rezoning comes down to the best use for the site. I felt that a hotel use was a good use for the site. The proposal passed 6 to 1.
Our only other discussion item was the creation of a set of carbon reduction recommendations by the Environmental Advisory Board for Cary. Council unanimously directed staff to investigate these recommendations further. You can see these recommendations at http://carync.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=4&ID=8432.
Friday – Mayors Meeting
The North Carolina Metro Mayors meeting on Friday was summarized by the Executive Director as follows:
Brief OPENING remarks – The General Assembly continued its light workload – taking up a few mini-budgets, a modest tax measure and now appears on track to adjourn in a few weeks.
Legislative Schedule, Override of Veto and Special “Mini Budgets”
- Senator Berger has continued to insist that the Senate will adjourn by October 31 with or without passage of a full budget.
- The House has not made that same precise promise but Speaker Moore has indicated they are working on the same general timeframe.
- The House and Senate are not holding votes next week. Leadership in both Chambers are expected to take stock of where things are decide what exactly needs to be passed before October 31.
- There is still potential for a veto override of the budget in the Senate. Senator Berger has indicated that he intends to attempt an override, but has not had a full complement of Republican Senators (several in his caucus have been out and one Republican seat was vacant until late this week when Dan Bishop left for his new job as a US Congressman).
- H100 DOT Budget – “Mini budget” for NC DOT
- One of the major disappointments for the Metro Mayors Coalition has been the veto of the budget which held up our successful effort to restore public transportation funds. Great news this week as both chambers moved forward with the DOT mini budget and it has been sent to the Governor (we do not expect him to veto this).
- The DOT budget includes:
- Full and recurring restoration of the previously cut $8.5m for transit/SMAP funding!
- Powell Bill Increase for 2021 ($7.3M recurring for municipalities with populations of 200,000 or less).
- Funding for commercial service airports (an additional $43.7M recurring, bringing the grand total to $75M annually).
- We encourage you to reach out to Majority Transportation Chair Sen. McInnis and Rules Chair Senator Rabon and Reps. Torbett and Shepard in the House, thanking them on their efforts as they worked hard to ensure this important transportation funding was included in the budget. Also reach out to your local legislators thanking them for their support for the transit funds, especially senior Democrat on the Transportation funding Committee, Rep. Grier Martin as well as Rep. Verla Insko who had sponsored a standalone bill for this purpose.
- NC DOT Funding Shortfall
- A SOLUTION for the recently identified funding gap at NC DOT is NOT included in the DOT mini-budget. ($300M shortfall related to disasters and the $300M that has been spent to date on judicial settlements for the MAP Act)
- There was discussion on the House floor debate that Rep. Torbett (Gaston) is working on a proposal for discussion in the coming weeks to resolve this shortfall. We are uncertain at this time what that language might look like or what vehicle will be used.
- The Senate Majority seems to have a different perspective and is more conservative on this issue, appearing to be less willing to “fix the NC DOT problem.” They do not see the urgency in giving DOT that money as they feel the DOT should have anticipated the MAP Act costs and that the Cooper Administration should have done a better job at getting federal money for disaster relief to NC quicker. So, it remains to be seen as to whether or not the Senate will support the effort if a bill to send additional funds to DOT comes over from the House.
- NC Chamber cant-afford-to-stop
- The Chamber continues to build support for the effort to restore DOT funds spent on disasters and the Map Act judicial decision.
- The Coalition is supportive of this effort. Please reach out to your MPOs and find out what projects are being delayed.
- PLEASE report critical projects that are delayed to your chamber of commerce, local business community AND your advocacy team (your contract lobbyists, Metro Mayors and NCLM).
- NC Go Annual Meeting and Dinner
- Metro Mayors was part of the founding of this state-wide transportation advocacy organization nearly 15 years ago. NC GO is holding their annual meeting and dinner next week and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, a past Chair of the Metro Mayors, will be a keynote speaker at the event.
Public Safety – Nothing new to report
- H399 – Historic Preservation Tax Credit (HTC) Extension
- This was originally the stand-alone bill sponsored by Rep. Ross that extended the tax credit and included some additional incentives such as a special credit for projects in federal disaster counties.
- The Senate released a proposed committee substitute for the bill this week that included a simple extension beyond January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2024. It added a number of popular and non-controversial tax provisions, such as extension of the sales tax exemption for jet fuel and motorsports teams, as well as an income exclusion for IRA distributions to charities and exempts economic development incentives grants from income taxes. This Senate version did NOT include the additional enhancements to the historic preservation tax credit (such as the additional credit for projects in federal disaster zones) that Rep. Ross had included in the bill that passed the House.
- It is worth noting that it did not include the franchise tax reduction that many observers expected, likely because the Governor had expressed concerns with this and may have prompted him to veto it.
- It moved through the Senate quickly this week with very little debate and passed unanimously on the Senate floor Thursday. It will now go to the House for consideration (considered very likely to pass in the revised Senate form when they return in a week).
Local Revenues/ Local Control – Nothing new to report
Friday evening I attended the dress rehearsal for the Cary Diwali dance by the Cary town members.
Saturday – Cary Diwali Celebration
Saturday I provided welcome remarks and read a proclamation at the 2019 Cary Diwali. My remarks included:
“… Since 2001 when we first hosted Diwali, we’ve seen it grow from a small festival to one of the largest Indian cultural celebrations in the southeastern United States. It’s also the Town’s largest fall cultural festival, and the largest event we host at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. And it has received the “Arts and Humanities Award” from the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association.
This year’s theme is Sur Sahitya (Sa heat tee ya) – a confluence of art, music, and literature. Today you will have the opportunity to experience the vibrant Indian music, dance, theater performances, exhibits, colorful decorations, and delicious cuisine.
Events like Diwali help celebrate our diversity and is one of the reasons Cary’s is ranked as one of the best places in America to live, work, and play. We are honored and proud to once again partner with Hum Sub to offer Cary citizens the opportunity to celebrate India’s vibrant culture. …”
I returned Saturday evening to be a part of the Team Cary and Team Morrisville dance. I had originally been part of the team but hadn’t been able to dance the last couple of months due to an injury. So I introduced the teams. Team Cary included Mayor Pro-Tem Lori Bush, Assistant Town Attorney Matt Pentz, Operations Coordinator Matt Wetherell, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Doug McRainey, General Manager of SMG and Booth Amphitheater Taylor Traversari, and Hum Sub’s Sunny Surana. Team Morrisville included Mayor T.J. Cawley, Police Chief Patrice Andrews, Council member Steve Rao, Rhythm Dance Group’s Dishant Vidwans, and Hum Sub’s Archana Lamichhane. Both groups put on a fantastic dance I did our communities proud. Thanks to all of them for the months of preparation.
The Saturday evening performances at Diwali were spectacular with two singers from India. One was an established singer and the other was an up-and-comer. Both had the capacity crowd energized. This year’s 19th Diwali was a great success.
Sunday – Finals of SAS Championships
Sunday I attended the final round of the SAS Championship. I sat with the Cary Chamber president, his wife, and council member Smith. It was a great finish and, IMHO, the best SAS Championship yet. Congratulations to Jerry Kelly for his first SAS Championship.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
In case you missed it at last night’s Council meeting, Officer Dustin Harris was helping keep us safe wearing his new body camera.
Cary Towne Center: Next Steps
As a follow-up to our intensive review of the proposed mall redevelopment plan at our August Quarterly, Scot Berry has worked with the mall team to provide the attached memo that I believe comprehensively addresses what were the outstanding issues. Based on this, and after talking with the Mayor, we are not planning to schedule an additional work session with Council. The project will go to the Planning and Zoning Board in the next few weeks. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns.
Mark your calendars and save the date – for the November 3 ribbon cutting and open house.
BMX at Sk8 Cary
Cary hosted three BMX freestyle events: the USA Cycling BMX Freestyle National Championships, the COPACI Pan-American BMX Freestyle Continental Championships, and the Cary BMX Freestyle Competition. Friday and Saturday’s Championships were the first-ever BMX Freestyle National Championships in the country, a fact that the USA Cycling Federation would like to commemorate with a plaque recognizing SK8 Cary as the site of the first national championship. These events attracted athletes from all over the world, including Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Australia.
Athletes competing in Cary were in the top of their field, holding a combined 16 X-Games medals. An estimated 1,250 spectators visited Sk8-Cary during the three days of events, with a peak of 345 spectators at one time on Sunday afternoon. This was by far the largest event of this nature held in the Triangle area and held at Sk8 Cary.
SK8 Cary was chosen to host these national events due to the size of the course and the ability to modify ramps, which is safer for the athletes to ride competition-style rather than concrete or prefab smaller ramps found in most cities. Also, having a facility with knowledgeable staff that understands the sports offered and years of experience competing in events like this allows foundations like USA Cycling to engage this community with ease and uphold their image as the authority in the cycling world. Additionally, having the support from other Town departments and the investment Cary puts into its facilities and truly makes SK8 Cary a leader in the industry as well as a great choice for the Nationals, Continental Championships and potentially the World Championships in 2020.
Sharing our Digital Transformation Story
Members of Cary’s Research & Development team were invited to speak at BoxWorks, an annual conference on digital business strategy and cloud content management. Joining a panel of CIO colleagues, Assistant Town Manager/Chief Innovation Officer Dan Ault spoke to the approach to digital transformation within the public sector. R&D members Danielle Mahoney and Carolyn Roman led a session on driving tech adoption using lessons learned in Cary over the last 18 months. Both presentations resonated with the respective audiences, and Cary was recognized by fellow Boxers across both public and private sectors as leaders in the digital transformation age. Rounding out the Cary presence were fellow R&D and IT members, plus top Box user Chris Little from Transportation & Facilities.
SAS Executive Women’s Day
Councilwoman Lori Bush and WRAL’s Debra Morgan kicked off the SAS Executive Women’s Day event. The theme for the event was “Create Your Legacy. Empower. Inspire. Live Fearless.” The agenda included a fireside chat with US Women’s Soccer Champions Jess McDonald and Sam Mewis as well as a keynote speech from Olympic silver medalist Noelle Pikus Pace. These ladies shared their experiences with overcoming challenges through courage, resilience and hard work along with the strengths that guided them to success.
Smart Cities Expo
Council Member Jennifer Robinson, Chief Information Officer Nicole Raimundo and Terry Yates were invited to serve on various panels at the Smart Cities Connect Fall Conference and Expo in Washington DC. The main session, which also included Cary’s public, private and non-profit partners, focused on the challenges and opportunities of creating a regional approach for Smart and Connected Communities and how Cary is leading that effort in the RTP region. Other sessions included the role of data management and analytics in smart city deployments and how data is used to build digital services for enhanced citizen engagement.
The beautiful fall weather was perfect for the annual Cary Dog Days festival. In partnership with Second Chance Pet Adoptions, hundreds of festival goers joined nearly 60 vendors to celebrate and pamper Fido. Cary Teen Council raised nearly $300 for Wake SPCA with the annual Dog Wash, and Cary Animal Control administered 88 rabies vaccines and 39 microchips.
Bond Park Community Center Improvements
On September 30, general contractor Racanelli Construction South began work on the Bond Park Community Center ADA Improvements project. The scope of work primarily involves renovation to improve accessibility to lobby and locker room amenities; however, the project also includes updating interior finishes, installing energy efficient lighting, repairing the mechanical system, and improving internet connectivity. Since this facility is very active throughout the year, the project team identified means to minimally impact facility operations during construction. They installed an enclosed, temporary access through the lobby to one of the gymnasiums. They also installed temporary stairs through the exterior locker room windows so that the shower/work areas could be partitioned off from the toilets so that the restrooms could remain open. The project is currently in the demolition stage; completion is scheduled for this winter.
Congratulations to Luke Guthrie for winning the Fonteva Superhero award (complete with cape) at the Fonteva Annual Conference in DC this week in recognition of his work on the development of the Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources system. The Superhero award is presented to a Fonteva customer, or member of a customer team, who is just that – a superhero. This award recognizes the impact that the person has on their organization and well as the Fonteva platform. Luke Guthrie was one of three recipients of this year’s award.
Many thanks to NC State Extension for conducting a day-long Residential Raingarden class at the Cary Arts Center on October 4. A full class of 30 learned the basics of designing and installing residential raingardens, did a walking tour of some examples of stormwater in downtown Cary, and learned about the best plants to install in raingardens. A less technical 2-hour Rain Garden Walk and Talk for residents was held on October 5. These efforts are related to the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund Grant that the Town received in support of our Adaptive Stormwater efforts in downtown.
Advisory Board Meetings
Tues, 10/15, 6:15pm
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Wed, 10/16, 6:15pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Thurs, 10/17, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included:
- Comments in support and opposition for the Weston Hotel proposal
- A complaint about the need for a signal at Green Level Church Road and Green Level School Road (staff is working with NCDOT on this since it is their decision)
- A complaint about a PET palace (staff is looking into this)
- A complaint about a proposal next to the Brickyard development
- Many, many congratulatory emails. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Next week will be an off week for me since I will be having orthoscopic surgery which will leave me immobile for a few days. I will post in two weeks.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 27th. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.