Cary, NC – This was the first week back after arthroscopic surgery and it was a busy one. Regarding the surgery, it went well and I am now in rehab mode.
Monday – Wake Mayors Meeting
Monday I attempted to contact council members about questions or concerns they may have had on the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled agenda. Most of the comments were on the Davis Drive public hearing where council members expressed concern over lack of specificity. Later in the day I met with key staff members and the Mayor Pro-Tem to go over the agenda. At that time, we believed the meeting would be straight forward without many public comments.
Next I met with the town manager and the Mayor Pro-Tem for my weekly one-on-one. We talked about next year’s calendar, a sister city visit next year, and incoming and outgoing council members.
Monday night I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Eight mayors were in attendance. Mayors not attending were Apex, Knightdale, Morrisville, and Wendell. The first speaker was the Executive Director of InterAct who talked about the need for more municipal partnerships. The second speaker was the Wake County School Board chairman who fielded questions and talked about naming schools and school assignments. The current Wake County School board has adopted a policy to not name schools after municipalities and instead name them after regions. He also mentioned the need for educational diversity and stated to me that Panther Creek may change in the future. I responded with “Good luck with that” since Panther Creek and all Cary schools have a very strong parent base. The meeting of the mayors lasted about two hours.
Tuesday – Downtown Developments
Tuesday I met with a North Carolina State student who is exploring potential careers in political science. She met with me about 45 minutes to ask questions about my office and about the town.
Later Tuesday the town council, staff, and others held a work session about two major projects in downtown. These two projects, if approved, would be transformative and serve the Cary citizens for decades to come.
The first project, at the corner of Harrison and Chatham, has been in the works for about ten years. Its partners include Northwoods Associates, Cary First Baptist Church, and the Town of Cary. The council last held a work session on the project in April of 2016. Discussion included concerns about the view of the parking deck from Academy Street and the Ivey Ellington House. According to local and state preservationists they would prefer the Ivey Ellington House to not be moved. But if moved they would much rather have it close to its current location. The also stated that turning the house on its current location would be worse than moving it. Staff mentioned the old library site on Academy street as a possible location of the Ivey Ellington House. The proposal will have a public hearing on November 21st. Then it will go to the First Baptist Church congregation for a vote in the December – January time frame. If approved and all documents are signed, including the State Historic Preservation Offices, it could begin construction next year. Estimates have the construction taking 18 to 24 months.
The second project, at the corner of Walnut and Walker, has also been in the works for a few years. Its partners include the Academy Park Cary and the Town of Cary. This proposal, which wraps the parking deck, has residential facing the park, Walker Street, and Walnut Street with retail on the bottom floors. In addition, there is 100,000 square feet of office facing Walnut Street with retail on the bottom. The design also includes a breezeway/view into the park from Walnut. Discussion included questions about the breezeway area and how the office space would be divided up. The applicant’s representative also talked about the integration of the streetscape with the park and how they had worked with the designers of the park. A public hearing on this proposal will be on December 12th. If approved in 2020 the project should begin construction some time during the year with a completion date estimated within the next two years.
Thursday – Town Council Meeting
Thursday the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of October. There were eight consent agenda items, three public hearings, and three discussion items. The Twyla Road South public hearing had several property owners speak in favor of the proposal. They talked about the hardship they endured as development and road projects surrounded their land. The Davis Drive PDD public hearing was cancelled since the developer pulled the project indefinitely. Speakers that showed up to speak in opposition spoke in the Public Speaks Out portion of the meeting. The last public hearing was the proposed amendments for the LDO (Land Development Ordinance). One of those amendments would change the way building height is calculated which would make it easier for developers to install environmentally friendly green roofs.
The first discussion item was for the Booth Amphitheater Management Plan and Budget which council approved unanimously. The amphitheater experience drastic increases in attendance. That along with the multiple promoter model resulted in revenues exceeding expenses. Next year national shows will expand from twelve to fifteen.
The second discussion item was the Go-Cary service wide improvements. This was first presented in January and many frequent riders, who depend on Go-Cary, showed up and spoke about how the changes who create great hardships. The staff spent most of the year meeting with various groups to work on solutions to those problems. The proposal, which was unanimously approved by council, was widely supported by the riders. What a great success story. Another example of how people working together can come up with the best solutions.
The final discussion item was the Searstone Phase II PDD Amendment. The Searstone project is vastly different from what was originally approved in the early 2000s. I believe it was a great learning experience for council and staff to make sure key components of a proposal are included in initial phases. That is why we see developer agreements with big projects today. This amendment would allow Searstone to expand and provide more amenities to their current residents. From my point of view it didn’t feel like much of a choice. Either we approve the proposal or risk a retirement community having financial problems which could potentially displace many of our seniors. The proposal was unanimously approved.
Our meeting concluded after about two hours.
Saturday – Downtown Library
Saturday I joined council member Yerha in a tour of the library and parking deck. The library will be the largest and nicest library in Wake County. It will also be one of the only, if not the only, two story libraries in the county. The views from the library and the parking deck were amazing. Not only are there be incredible views of the future park but also of the fountain and the arts center. The top floor of the parking deck could even be programmed for events. I invite everyone to see for themselves by attending the ribbon cutting and grand opening next Sunday.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included the following:
Now that summer has come to an end and fall has finally settled in, it’s time to prepare for Winter Weather Response. Approximately 300 staff members participated in our annual “Snow Rodeo” exercise. This event is an opportunity to emphasize safety, communications, and team building as we test our winter weather equipment and re-familiarize ourselves with snow routes. In addition to the on-route exercise, Day and Night Crews attended a series of four training sessions: equipment safety/inspection, chainsaw safety, plowing techniques, and response team expectations. Hats off to all our snow fighters who, year after year, leave their families at home during winter weather events to create and maintain a safe road network for Cary citizens.
Staff members from throughout the organization represented Cary at the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) Annual Conference in Nashville, TN. Illustrating the Town’s commitment to a diversity of professional development opportunities, Deanna Hawkes (Public Safety), Stacey Teachey (Finance) and Randy Byrd (Police) were selected to attend after writing essays about their interest. Numerous sessions on a wide variety of topics provided abundant opportunities for learning while creating bonds among staff.
Public Safety Director Allan Cain, president of the Board of Directors of the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CSPE), an ICMA Presidential Level Strategic Partner, also attended the ICMA Annual Conference. CSPE and ICMA collaborated on 21st Century Fire and Rescue Service, a white paper analyzing the societal, technological, economic and political factors facing the fire service now and in the future. The goal of the white paper was to have city and county management experts and fire experts collaborate to prepare local governments and the fire service to meet increasing public expectations while providing transparency in action, making decisions based on data, and promoting a creative, adaptive, innovative culture.
Public Street Reimbursement
The Town executed a reimbursement agreement with Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) for public street construction costs associated with Horton’s Creek Elementary School which opened in August 2017. NCGS 160A-307.1, effective August 1, 2017, limits the improvements that NCDOT and municipalities can require of school systems and requires NCDOT and municipalities to reimburse school systems for costs associated with public street improvements. Cary’s share of reimbursements to WCPSS for improvements related to Horton’s Creek Elementary, $341,342, were for street improvements on Horton’s Creek Road, upgrades from sidewalk to street side trail along Yates Store Road, and median-related upgrades along O’Kelly Chapel Road. NCDOT’s share, approximately $2.75 million, was for improvements along O’Kelly Chapel Road and Yates Store Road. Staff will next be working on a reimbursement agreement for Alston Middle School which opened in July 2019. The Town’s share of street improvement reimbursements for Alston Middle School is currently estimated to be about $3 million.
Prescription Drug Take Back Day
- Cary Police Department, 120 Wilkinson Ave
- Christ the King Lutheran Church, 600 Walnut St
- Fire Station 8, 408 Mills Park Dr
Sharing Smart City Information
Last Friday, Mayor Pro Tem Lori Bush and staff hosted the Town of Pittsboro, Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, and Chatham Park/Preston Development Officials at Town Hall to share ideas and best practices around smart and connected technologies. Discussions focused on the deployment of technology infrastructure, Aquastar and Scada utility platforms, data management and sharing, and citizen and industry engagement. This collaboration further demonstrates our leadership role in creating a nationally recognized smart and connected community and region.
Leaf Collection Schedule
The loose-leaf collection map and schedule is arriving in mailboxes this week. The mailer turned a little greener this fall by not including the usual blue and yellow recycling calendars, and instead advertising our new Cary Collects app. The new app helps citizens find address-specific schedules for all of their solid waste services and to receive service collection reminders. Printed calendars are available upon request.
Walker Street Improvements
Weather permitting, contractors will temporarily close the intersection of Chatham and Walker Street on Monday, November 4 at 9am to make sewer repairs, upgrade storm drainage, replace water main, relocate utilities, and patch asphalt – all safely away from traffic. Electronic changeable message signs and traffic control devices will be in place to direct traffic around the intersection closure. The intersection is expected to reopen to traffic on Monday, November 18. Walker Street from Chatham Street to Waldo Street will remain closed until Winter 2019. Construction of the Walker Street Improvements Project began in mid-August 2019; the project is approximately 40% complete.
Upcoming LAPP Grants
CAMPO’S annual call for grants for the FFY 2021 Locally Administered Project Program (LAPP) is now open. Approximately $25 million in federal aid will be granted to regional transportation projects in three mobility categories: roadway, bike/ped and transit. In selecting potential projects for submittal, staff evaluates potential projects based on multiple criteria including alignment with Cary’s transportation goals, project readiness, a review of current workload, anticipated availability of matching funds and how well the project ranks against LAPP’s scoring system.
Staff is considering four construction and one design project across all three modes. One of the projects would be a partnership with NCDOT. The table below summarizes the proposed LAPP grant applications. Each jurisdiction is required to provide a minimum 20% local match. During the evaluation process, staff may adjust the match to make the project more competitive. Applications are due on October 31, and awards will be announced in early 2020.
Mummy and Son Ball
Over 100 mummies and their sons participated in the costume contest, danced the Monster Mash, played spooky fun games and had all kinds of “creepy crawly” toppings on their ice cream sundaes at the Mummy and Son Ball at Middle Creek Community Center.
Employee Flu Shots
In a 2018 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that nearly 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from flu each season. Knowing how prevalent the flu is and how quickly it can spread, the Town partnered with WakeMed to host an on-site flu clinic. The initiative kicked off on October 7 at Public Works and continued this past week at Town Hall, Public Works, the fire stations and utility plants. Nearly 25% of our employees received a flu shot at one of these events. To further support our employees and their families, we will continue to encourage employees to visit their doctor’s office or a local pharmacy for a flu shot. A voucher for a free flu shot is available for those not covered under the insurance plan. We want employees to take care of themselves, each other, and their families.
Alston Ridge Truck Fair
On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, Alston Ridge Elementary School held their “Truck Fair Day” where students could learn about various Town of Cary PW/UT Departments. Town personnel from Solid Waste Management, Traffic Signals, and Building and Grounds demonstrated equipment and told students about their job responsibilities.
To help employees better understand retirement eligibility, benefits, and options as well as strategies to prepare for retirement, the Town hosted its semi-annual Pre-Retirement seminar on Thursday. Nearly 60 employees gathered to learn from their Town colleagues, representatives from the North Carolina Local Government Employee Retirement System, and Prudential and Voya, Cary’s retirement plan providers. Following the seminar, one-on-one sessions were provided to review specific cases and answer individual questions.
Traffic Signal Complete
The Olde Weatherstone / Cary Parkway traffic signal is now fully operational with a protected green arrow and a permitted flashing yellow arrow to help motorists making left turns. For walkers, there are new pedestrian heads, ramps and a cross walk to safely cross Olde Weatherstone Roads and Cary Parkway. The signal has emergency vehicle pre-emption priority that gives a green light to fire, EMS and police vehicles. The installation also included a camera to monitor traffic and share the live video with Cary’s TV, traffic website, 911, 311, police and fire departments.
Cary partnered with organizations including Hope Community Church, Freeway Church, Sigma Gamma Rho, Lion’s Club, Covenant Christian Church, Wake County Human Services, Grace Expressions Dance Education, Safe Child, Cary Crimestoppers, Smart Start, and Dorcas Ministries to make the Unity in the Community event on Nottingham Drive a huge success. These community helpers joined numerous folks from Police and Fire to demonstrate what public safety is all about – neighbors helping neighbors.
Bryan Webb, Chief Code Enforcement Official, and Brian Stark, Assistant Director for Inspections and Permits, presented the Live Remote (LR) Inspection process to the NC Building Code Council on Tuesday at the NC Department of Insurance in Raleigh. They demonstrated a recorded example of what the LR Inspection experience looks like and discussed the benefits to the building community as well as to Cary. In most cases, this LR process allows staff to approve a re-inspection the same day after an initial inspection was disapproved earlier in the day. Thanks also to Charles Ruffin and Carl Hunt for creating the video used to demonstrate the Live Remote Inspection process to the state-wide audience.
Advisory Board Meetings
Mon, 10/28, 6:30pm
Town Hall Council Chambers
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included:
- A complaint about parking on the Chapel Hill side of Adam Street (staff has responded)
- Kudos on the new GoCary routes
- A concern about downtown pedestrian safety
- A thank you for approving the revised Searstone plan
- A complaint about no left turns on Morrisville Carpenter Road from Carpenter Village (staff’s response:
Ashton Woods is developing a new residential development called Savaan, which is located on the north side of Morrisville-Carpenter Road opposite the Carpenter Village neighborhood. The development is required to widen Morrisville-Carpenter Road along their frontage, which is quite lengthy. With the widening, they are also to install a raised landscaped median to our standards since our Transportation Plan within the Image Cary Community Plan calls for the street to be built to a 4-lane, median divided thoroughfare. Below are a few links to the approved plans.
When Carpenter Village was built many years ago, they also widened their roadway frontage, but did not build the median since the thoroughfare was not yet widened on the north side. They currently have a left turn lane along the thoroughfare at each of their neighborhood entrances, which allows them to safely shelter left turning vehicles.
The developer is now installing the median and it has become necessary to temporarily restrict left turns into and out of Carpenter Village while the median is being built. There is about 12 inches of grade differential across the median to finish grade and the left turn lane that did exist along the thoroughfare will be removed since the median will go in roughly the same location as the turn lane. This traffic control plan was developed with NCDOT since they have jurisdiction over the street. The left turn restrictions were established as the safest and most expeditious way to get the median work completed. We are aware that this temporary restriction of access is challenging and inconvenient for the Carpenter Village neighborhood, but it is temporary and necessary from a safety standpoint. We expect the left turn restrictions to be in place while the developer completes the median work. They estimate the time frame to be approximately 60-90 days. Town staff is currently working with NCDOT and the developer’s contractor and will try our best to get normal driving patterns and left turn access re-established with the neighborhood as soon as possible. )
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a robotic demonstration, a meeting with developers, a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors, a youth leadership luncheon, a celebration of the town’s first greenway, and the ribbon cutting for the new library.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 3rd. 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.