Cary, NC – This week was busy and included an event to start the holiday season.
Monday – Podcast Interview
Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We spent most of our time talking about the upcoming quarterly meeting. We also spent time talking about future parks.
Monday evening I recorded a podcast with the “Guys who do stuff” group. We had a great interview about how I became involved in government and the challenges we faced and are expecting to face. You can hear the entire interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQv1cTbovZo.
Tuesday – Annual Evaluation
Tuesday the council went into closed session for the annual evaluation of one of our employees. The council employees are the town’s manager, attorney, and clerk. All other employees report to the town manager. Our closed session lasted about an hour and a half.
Thursday – Quarterly Meeting
The council, staff management, directors, and other key staff held a quarterly meeting Thursday afternoon. Eight topics were discussed.
Since this was the first quarter of the fiscal year, we spent time talking about last year’s budget which ended in June. Revenues exceeded expenditures by $17 million. One notable item was that sales tax revenue was $1.3 million over the budgeted amount. Expenditures were also 6% under budget. Our General Fund balance far exceeds the state requirements and council’s goals. We are currently $33 million over our policy requirements. This will allow us to use cash rather than incur more debt. Our utility fund also showed a large amount, $17 million, of revenues over expenditures. However, this is mostly due to rate smoothing so that we won’t have large jumps in rates to pay for expensive water/sewer projects.
On January 1st Wake County residents will start the process of property revaluation which is done every four years. This will have an impact on our next fiscal year budget which starts on July 1st, 2020. We are expecting that the tax base will grow from the last revaluation in 2016. Not all of Cary will have property revaluation. Chatham County residents have theirs in 2021. They make up 3% of our tax base.
Council unanimously approved two budget recommendations. The first was $150,000 from funds set aside for quarterly adjustments to support tree plantings in Cary. The trees that will be planted will be significant and not seedlings. I anticipate we will be spending much more on this in the future. The second was to acquire two properties on Chatham Street between Harrison and Maynard. This helps in land acquisition that will eventually be needed for road widening of Chatham Street. However, that is beyond the 5-year scope of State SPOT funds. This could help with the future BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) route.
Quarter 1 development results showed 28 cases seeking rezonings with 5 approved. 11 development plans were approved which is the lowest amount in several years. Residential CO’s dropped from the first quarter last year however non-residential increased significantly.
The council also received updates on several development projects. The mall proposal will go to the Planning and Zoning Board in November and could come to the council for a vote in December. If approved, then Cary will be vying for the community center in the mall area which needs a commitment by January 16th. A new road, Rogers Alley, which will be parallel to Chatham is moving forward. Projects in the Crossroads area include the Epic Games expansion with a new three-story building at Dillard and Jones Franklin. The old Crossroads Ford sales on Walnut has been sold for office space.
An update on Cary’s new 311 system was provided. This will allow our citizens a one stop location for information and allow the town to collect data points to understand where there are issues. The system will be available to the public on January 2nd and can be accessed by phone, email, web, text, and social media. Staff will assess the new system in the spring of next year and begin an increased public awareness campaign at that time.
This will be a yearlong celebration. A committee to plan events, led by our town clerk, has been working for about a year. Several subcommittees have been created to work on specific events. Planned events so far include a New Year’s Eve Party on December 31, 2020, and a celebration day at the downtown park on April 10, 2021. A documentary is also planned.
Staff and consultants presented information about Cary’s current housing and the need for housing priorities. Currently, Cary’s new population is in the 18 to 34 range. However, we are the oldest municipality in North Carolina. Our population continues to become more educated with more advanced degree citizens. And our population is becoming more diverse. There was also a lot of information presented on affordable housing. Council member Robinson summed up my feelings by saying “I don’t want to do something just to make us feel good. I want to do something meaningful.”
This program has become much more difficult since there are not very many takers of collected recycling materials. Currently Cary residents divert 45% of collections from the landfill and have an 80% participation rate. Nationally, the average household recycles about 357 pounds a year while Cary residents recycle about 401 pounds a year. Our trash makeup is 4.9% textiles, 20% recyclables, and 27% food waste. These are things that can and should be diverted from the landfill. Cary will start curbside recycling of textiles beginning in the Spring of 2020. This will be done by a third party at no cost to the town. We will evaluate this program after a few months. Recyclables in the trash can be addressed by further education. And food waste has many potential solutions.
The park’s schematics phase is complete and current design is within budget. The stormwater system in the park will be built to handle, at a minimum, a 500-year storm event. This should help properties downstream. Staff presented illustrations of the Academy Park development on the park side, the canopy walk, the gathering garden, the Academy Street Plaza, the Great Lawn and Pavilion, Park Street – where the Farmer’s Market will likely be held, the Bark Bar, the Children’s Play area, and the underground storage. There are proposed to be 400 new trees planted in the park that will increase the tree canopy by 220%. Most of the existing 75 trees will be retained. The park general manager position will be hired in the first half of next year. The bid for the project will be the following year with construction planned to begin in the summer of 2021. The park’s dedication goal is the summer of 2023.
The town’s branding initiative was temporarily slowed until municipal elections were completed. It will now proceed with additional information first going to the Economic Development Committee. The town manager emphasized that we will take our time to make sure this is done right. I should point out that our branding is not mostly about a logo, even though we will have a new one, but is about marketing ourselves to the rest of the country and world.
Our quarterly meeting concluded after about four and a half hours.
Thursday night I attended the NW Cary YMCA victory celebration for their annual “We Build the People” Campaign where they celebrated money raised for various programs. This year they raised $861,167. Some of those programs include helping students below grade level, teaching kids how to swim, providing health and exercise programs for cancer survivors, providing day camps for children with developmental disorders, financial assistance and much more. I was blessed to be allowed to say a few words in addition to the testimonies of several citizens who have benefited from their programs. It was a great event and I hope that everyone will continue to help support the YMCA.
Saturday – VFW Anniversary
Saturday I attended the 50th anniversary celebration of VFW Franklin Sloan post 7383. The post was named after two WWII veterans who fought and died in battle. Both were heroes and one received a silver star for his actions. This post has served Cary veterans for decades and we are blessed to have it in Cary. Several post commanders from the region and the southeast spoke at the ceremony. I also provided remarks. God bless each and every one of our veterans for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make to keep us safe and free!
Saturday night I participated in my first of three tree lighting events of the season. This tree lighting was at the Parkside Commons Shopping Center. I was joined by Mayor Pro-Tem Bush. Even Santa was there. It was an event made for kids with bouncy rides, face painting, and a snow making machine. I made a few remarks about the beginning of the holiday season, invited kids up, and we counted down from five before flipping the giant switch to turn on the lights. What a fun event.
David Martin Remembrance
This week we said goodbye to a long-time citizen of Cary, David Martin, who did so much for so many in this community. Mr. Martin lived in Cary for 65 years and constructing the area’s first shopping mall, South Hills Mall and Plaza on Buck Jones Road. He also developed the Triangle Forest subdivision as well as many other developments in Raleigh and Cary. He was a man of strong faith and lived that faith every day. He will be missed. Rest in peace brother!
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included the following:
What a great session we had yesterday! Thank you again for taking the time from your routine to focus on some of our most important topics. I look forward to continuing our conversation next quarter at the Retreat.
What a great celebration as the ribbon was cut for the new, much-anticipated, Cary Regional Library on Sunday. Thousands of library fans gathered on a beautiful fall afternoon for the event, which featured speakers from Wake County and the Town of Cary, as well as a performance from the Parkside Elementary School Chorus. According to data from Wake County, 3,728 people visited the library between 2:30 and 5pm. Total circulation was 3,971 (3,858 initial checkouts and 113 renewals). What a great day for Cary and Wake County Public Libraries!
Fair Housing Meeting
As part of the mandated HUD consolidated planning process, the Town of Cary, in collaboration with Wake County, the City of Raleigh, Raleigh Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of Wake County, is drafting the Wake County Regional Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. To ensure that the plan reflects the needs and priorities of Cary residents, a public meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12 from 6-7:00pm at the Taylor Family YMCA, 101 YMCA Drive in Cary. As elected officials, your opinions and ideas on the priority needs of our community as it relates to affordable housing, fair housing, public infrastructure and facilities improvements is needed. Stay tuned for release of the online survey later this month. Please share the public meeting and survey with your constituents and friends as we want to ensure the inclusion of all Cary stakeholders!
ZBOA Hears QJ Cases
The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBOA) conducted its first quasi-judicial hearings for development plans and special uses on November 4, the first cases presented to ZBOA since Town Council approved ACT 11, which amended the Land Development Ordinance to shift quasi-judicial decisions from Council to ZBOA. The first case was a proposal for a drive-through for a new Panera Bread restaurant at 2002 Kildaire Farm Road. The second case was a request for a special use permit for a new recycling center at Waste Management’s existing transfer station located at 10415 Globe Road. Both cases were approved unanimously. At ZBOA’s next meeting on December 2, members will debrief the first meeting and adopt written resolutions for each case. ZBOA decisions are subject to review by superior court if petitions for review are timely filed.
In the News
The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has notified the City of Burlington of its intent to sue the city for pollution within the Haw River basin caused by their wastewater biosolids land application program. The primary pollutants of concern are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4 Dioxane, which are both unregulated contaminants. Staff will monitor this case closely as it moves forward.
Cary staff have been following developments related to these emerging contaminants for several years as well as the Haw River influence on Jordan Lake. We have conducted our own extensive testing in Jordan Lake, which is partially buffered from the Haw River influence because of our upstream intake location. While we support measures to protect the Jordan Lake watershed, we have been proactive by investing in treatment technology and testing at our Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility to ensure that finished drinking water remains of high quality and safe for our citizens.
Bond Lake Dam Repairs
Beginning Monday, November 11 through March 2020, renovations will take place to repair the Bond Lake Dam and protect it from future erosion. White Oak Greenway near Bond Lake will be affected; users should follow posted detour signs. The project is managed by Wake County.
First Cary Greenway Commemorated
Forty years ago, Cary built its first greenway, a 0.15-mile section between Tarbert Drive and Gatehouse Drive. This first greenway was commemorated on Saturday, November 2 with the installation of a new sign documenting its history and a fabulous piece of public art, a 2000-lb stone sculpture by Carl and Ethan Peverall. This stone cairn marks Cary’s first greenway in a similar way that Scottish and Native American cultures stacked stone cairns to mark special sites. Mayor Weinbrecht and Council Member George spoke at the event, and Council Members Robinson and Yerha attended. The 0.15-mile section of greenway was the beginning of something big! Today, Cary has more than 80 miles of greenway.
On Wednesday night, key stakeholders visited Raleigh Union Station for the Wake Transit Plan Vision Update open house. This process will inform the next three years of Wake Transit Plan projects beyond the 2027-time frame of the original plan. Just one of Cary’s many Wake Transit-funded projects in the original ten-year plan is a full bus stop sign replacement. The new signs are being fabricated, and delivery is expected later this month. These new signs will appear early next year to coincide with system-wide service changes.
Special Barbershop Rap Session
A former Cary Police intern, now the police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, will return to Cary for a very special Barbershop Rap Session on Saturday, November 9 from 8-10am at Headliners, 1028 Ryan Road. Chief Jason Armstrong will talk about how Cary has influenced him over the years and what’s happening today in Ferguson.
Red Ribbon Event
On November 6, the School Resource Officer Team and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources conducted the annual Red Ribbon event. Abby Bronstein, a student at Davis Drive Middle School, was the Grand Prize Winner.
The new traffic signal at the intersection of Jenks and Roberts Roads/Henniker Street is activated and fully operational. The metal pole signal was funded by developers. The traffic signal has a protected green arrow and a permitted flashing yellow arrow for motorists and a pedestrian crossing on Henniker Street. This traffic light has a unique function: the left turn arrows are programmed to be fully protected during Green Level High School traffic in the morning and afternoon, allowing permitted left turns at other times.
Clocks are Changed – Now Change Batteries
The National Fire Protection Association reports that 71% of smoke alarms that failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries. This reinforces how important it is to take this time each year to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Early Thanksgiving Celebration
Dorcas Ministries hosted their annual Thanksgiving Breakfast on Wednesday, November 6. For more than 50 years, Dorcas Ministries has provided compassionate assistance to Cary residents through financial assistance programs, job training, and a food pantry and thrift store. Cary is proud to support Dorcas’ commitment to serving citizens through the Community Development Block Grant Program and Cary’s Oasis Program.
Greenway Glow Ride
A rolling light parade made its way around Symphony Lake Greenway and surrounding streets last Friday night, November 1. The Greenways Glow Ride was another event celebrating 40 Years of Cary Greenways as 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of Cary’s first greenway. About 75 citizens participated by decorating their bikes, scooters, strollers and helmets with lights for either a 1.3 or 6-mile ride. The ride finished with hot chocolate and cannoli. Many participants encouraged the Town to do it again next year.
In partnership with Cary, the North Carolina Storytellers’ Guild presented the first Old North State Storytelling Festival. The festival brought three nationally known tellers to The Cary along with six guild tellers. Three of the four concerts sold out with over 600 enthusiastic attendees from all over the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina. Based on the success of this initial festival, plans are already underway to make Cary the home for this statewide event.
Congratulations, NC Courage!
After finishing in first place in the NWSL regular season, the NC Courage won the playoff championship last week in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,000 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park. Go Courage.
The Cary Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) would like to share some exciting news about a new fire inspection district model and its integration into 311. For the past several weeks, the fire department and 311 personnel have been collaborating on methods of enhancing the scheduling of fire inspections. As of November 1, a newly organized method using innovative software was introduced to OFM staff and the 311 advocates. This new inspection scheduling method improves service by opening more available inspection slots into four inspection districts, while allowing the OFM and 311 staff to edit capability and functionality with smart phones in field applications. The OFM is excited about the improvements this brings to processes and citizen service and appreciates the support of 311 staff.
The 10th annual Tennis on Campus Fall Invitational was held at Cary Tennis Park last weekend. This is the third year the event has been held at the Tennis Park. Tennis on Campus was developed in 2000 as a coed, non-varsity program designed to increase the number of active players on college campuses and is currently offered on over 600 college campuses. This weekend’s event showcased 48 teams from across the country. As a result of winning this weekend’s tournament, Cornell was awarded a bid to the Tennis on Campus National Championships.
Taking Care of First Responders
Fire Department Community Risk Coordinator Scott Benninghoff and Fire Engineer Jason Dove, both members of the peer support team, attended the 4th annual Firefighter Mental Health Symposium October 28-29 in San Antonio. The class covered PTSD, suicide, substance abuse, and mental health among first responders. Twenty-two different states were represented, with the NC PEER team having the largest turnout of 20 members from across the state.
Officer Kevin Bern partners with residents and management staff of the Grove at Cary Park to become involved in community affairs and tailor services to the unique characteristics and needs of the residents. Property Manager Chan Ballentine said, “The partnership with Project PHOENIX has been an amazing experience. Our partnership with Project PHOENIX has keep crime levels down and encouraged engagement with the community.”
Each November, water professionals from around the state gather for the NC American Water Works and NC Water Environment Association Conference, providing a great opportunity to learn best practices, network with colleagues, and share experiences with peers from throughout the state. This 99th annual conference, “Game On – Moving Forward in the Water Game,” held at the Raleigh Convention Center, was a very active and engaging conference for more than 1,500 attendees, a conference record.
Cary received several awards during the event including Large Water System of the Year, Overall Water System of the Year and Large Wastewater Collection System Award. In addition, several staff members received individual awards.
Davis Reynolds, Water Distribution System Operator
Water Distribution Operator of the Year
Donald Smith, Wastewater Collection System Manager
Wastewater Collections Operator of the Year
Damon Forney, WWRWRF Plant Manager
William D. Hatfield Award (Career Achievement)
Paul Ray, NCWRF Manager
Wilbur E. Long Operator of the Year Award
Congratulations to the entire team and thank you for providing such outstanding service.
On Monday, November 4, Cary’s Stormwater staff appeared before the North Carolina Division of Environmental Quality’s (NCDEQ) Sediment Commission for final action on the biennial audit of Cary’s delegated Erosion Control Program. The Commissioners concurred with NCDEQ staff that Cary continues “to effectively implement their locally delegated Erosion and Sediment Control Program, and construction sites are inspected frequently and thoroughly” and voted unanimously to continue delegation to Cary–the highest rating issued to a local government. Congratulations to the entire Stormwater Team and thank you for your dedication to protecting our natural resources.
Advisory Board Meetings
Tues, 11/12, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Tues, 11/12, 6:30pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Wed, 11/13, 6:15pm
Town Hall Conf Room 6:15pm
Wed, 11/13, 6:30pm
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Thurs, 11/14, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens this week include:
- A request to speak at an annual HOA meeting
- A request to mention the NC Courage’s accomplishments (I did this in my last post)
- A question about who maintains the WakeMed soccer park’s field (staff will respond)
- A complaint that buying two ladder trucks is a waste of taxpayer money (I strongly disagree especially since Cary will be going more vertical in certain areas like the mall and the Fenton.)
- Accolades for the new library (It was a great partnership between the town and Wake County)
- A concern about stormwater from the development wrapping the parking deck (Stormwater will be handled with the 500-year storm event retention structure that will be created on the park site.)
Next week is a holiday week and activities will be fewer than normal. Activities include staff meetings, a NC Metro Mayors meeting, Rolesville Mayor’s retirement event, and a children’s day celebration by the Indian Heritage Association.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 17th. 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.