Harold’s Blog: Corona Virus Precautions, Old Library Demolition, 2020 Census and More

Cary, NC — This week was one of the lightest weeks since I have been mayor mainly because everyone is preparing for the council-staff working retreat next week.

Tuesday – Meeting with Volunteers of Cary’s Advisory Boards

My only event this week was on Tuesday at the Cary Arts Center. It was a mingle with Advisory volunteers representing all of our boards: The Environmental Advisory Board, Historic Preservation Commission, Information Services Advisory Board, Parks Recreation and Cultural Resources Advisory Board, Planning and Zoning Board, Public Art Advisory Board, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Representatives from the boards were present to discuss their work plans. I spent about two hours talking with several board representatives. The council will vote on their work plans at our March 26th meeting.

Old Library Demolition Update

Demolition of the old library was this week. Here was the information sent to council from staff prior to the demolition:

“You will notice activity on South Academy Street showing that demolition of the old Cary Library building has begun. Our contractor, CCI of Salisbury NC, is mobilizing this week and has already installed protective fencing around the building today. They will be working mostly on the building’s interior this week, removing lots of lighting, fixtures, hardware and asbestos-containing insulation. The asbestos removal will be done under the watchful eyes of the NC Department of Health and Human Services and our environmental consultant S&ME. We expect all of this to be completed this week. Then the full demolition of the building itself will occur during the first two weeks of March, with all debris taken off-site for disposal. Then the old ‘Senior Center’ building on the back of the site will be demolished in the third week of March.

Expect to see several days of heavy equipment and dump trucks hauling away debris. The contractor will perform what is called a ‘wet’ demolition process to keep dust at bay and protect our neighbors. All work will be done during normal daylight working hours. Final cleanup and grading of the site will be done the week of March 30. The parking lot will not be available for much of March but will be reopened when there is no longer a conflict with the demolition.

All of this activity concludes several months of hard work planning and obtaining the necessary permits to do it safely for our neighbors and for the environment, and to make sure the work would go smoothly once we got to this point. I want to recognize Clayton Mills in our Public Works department for an excellent job of mastering the numerous details needed to make this happen.

After the buildings are removed, their former footprints will be graded smooth and covered with grass. The existing 54-space parking lot will be preserved for use by downtown businesses and activities. Safety lighting will be kept and enhanced as needed. A new walkway will be constructed across the cleared area to improve visibility and pedestrian access to the parking lot from Academy Street.

The existing streetscape outside of the fence, including the flagpole, public art, benches and trees will remain until further plans are made for the site.”

While it is sad to see the old library gone, it is exciting to think about what new landmark will be built on our signature street.

Book Drop-Off Complaints Addressed

The council and staff have been getting numerous complaints about not having a book drop-off at the Cary downtown library maintained by Wake County. Here is one of the staff’s response to those concerns:

“… Wake County is considering how to best address the comments they have received about the book drop. I’m sure we can expect to see some changes soon. Our contact with Wake County is Mark Forestieri, their Director of Facilities Design & Construction. While we have not heard yet how they want to approach a new book drop arrangement, he will be staying in touch with us when the time comes. If you wish to contact him directly in the meantime (probably a good idea so he can hear from our citizens directly) he can be reached at mforestieri@wakegov.com or 919-856-6356. …”

Hopefully, this issue will be resolved soon.

Quarterly Report

The quarterly report was provided to council this week prior to our council-staff working retreat in Winston-Salem. There is a lot of great information in the report including financials and the growth of our community.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager, Sean Stegall’s report for this week included the following:

Get the Facts

Our Get the Facts and Bottom Line web pages are tools we use for the most important things. With the social media posts surrounding Academy Park and the Community Recreation and Sports Center, staff launched Get the Facts pages for each. I hope you will find them useful as you interact with citizens. We will revise the content as needed. As an aside, the Rec Center email is, for the first time, pouring directly into Salesforce for universal access and case management.

As a further aside, since we will be together at the Council/Staff Retreat next Friday, my next Weekly Report will be on March 13.

Neighborhood Rezoning Meetings

The next Rezoning Neighborhood Meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, March 4 at 6:30 pm at Town Hall. These meetings provide an opportunity for applicants to present information on new rezoning requests and receive feedback from nearby property owners prior to the public hearing. There are two cases on Wednesday’s agenda:

19-REZ-32: Cary Park Rezoning SF-13 PDD Amendment

A request to amend conditions on approximately 10 acres located at the northwest quadrant of McCrimmon Parkway and NC 540 to allow up to 15 detached residential units.

20-REZ-01: Fenton Mixed-Use Development

A request to amend the previously-approved zoning and preliminary development plan on approximately 92 acres at 855 Cary Towne Boulevard to allow additional land uses (such as office, residential and hotel), increase the building height for four buildings, and make other minor adjustments and clarifications.
Information about these cases can be found on the Rezoning Cases webpage.

NCDOT Projects Move Forward

Due to budget issues in 2019, NCDOT paused multiple projects throughout the state. Last week, three Cary projects were re-activated and are proceeding forward with plans.

  • NE Maynard Rd Railroad Grade Separation
  • Trinity Rd Railroad Grade Separation
  • Crossroads Junction

Staff looks forward to continued engagement with NCDOT as these projects move forward.

Dynamic Left Turn

Cary staff members continue to monitor the Dynamic Left Turn Intersection at Cary Parkway and Tryon Road. A second CCTV camera was installed to provide another view of the project which will help determine effectiveness. NCDOT is working on a supplemental traffic sign to help inform drivers of the need to stay out of the closed left-turn lane. Monitoring will continue into March when a consulting firm, VHB of NC, will perform an analysis on how impactful the treatment has been on operations and how well people are complying with the overhead dynamic signs.

Corona Virus Preparedness

Wake County EMS, the 911 Communications Center and the Fire Department are closely monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronoavirus (now COVID-19) and are working with the county and the state to prepare a response protocol, if needed. Currently, 911 dispatchers ask travel-related screening questions if EMS callers report flu-like symptoms. All emergency response personnel and vehicles are equipped with appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment. The fire department also maintains an adequate supply of replacement inventory.

Advisory Board Event

On Tuesday evening, a reception was held at the Cary Arts Center for Cary’s advisory volunteers, council and staff. This event provided the opportunity for each Advisory Board Chair to showcase their 2020 Work Plans to council and fellow volunteers.

Census 2020

Debra Grannan speaks at the Cary Chamber of Commerce Eye-Opener Breakfast on bringing awareness of the 2020 Census to Cary

On February 26, Cary and Wake County staff were invited to the Cary Chamber of Commerce Eye-Opener Breakfast to speak to members about the importance of the 2020 Census. Sharon Peterson, Wake County’s Long Range Planning Administrator, presented information about the importance of an accurate count to Wake County, and Debra Grannan provided an update of what Cary has done and will continue to do to bring awareness to the 2020 Census.

It is extremely important to participate in this decennial event because the results are used to help determine the number of seats each state gets in Congress, how congressional and other electoral boundaries are drawn and how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities.

PD Shares Expertise

The Cary Police Department has been hosting regional law enforcement partners for an Undercover Investigations class. This week’s class, taught by Reserve Officer Kevin West, trained attendees in investigations involving children and the successful prosecution of those who would take advantage of them.

ECyber Mission Competition

As part of their work in preparing for the ECyber Mission Competition, Cary 8th graders Abhinav Meduri, Arnav Meduri, Siddharth Maruvada, and Kartik Nanduri met with Charles Brown, Stormwater Program Analyst, and Marie Cefalo, Water Resources Outreach Supervisor, to discuss stormwater pollution.

The team decided to focus on pet waste. One part of the competition was to provide a social media platform to educate and collect information, and the other was to create a solution to stormwater pollution. They created a mobile app to provide a site map where discharges can be reported and waste stations located, a storm drain labeling map, a pledge to protect the environment and a quiz to help inform. They also created and tested a prototype biofilter to help clean up nutrients and fecal coliform.

Paying it Forward

Specialized Recreation friends donated food items to BackPack Buddies. BackPack Buddies is designed to provide children in low-income households with nutritious, kid-friendly groceries for the weekend. Their generous donation will assist in efforts to ensure that children will have food at home when they are away from school. In addition to the donated items, the group made thank you cards for the volunteers who assemble and distribute the backpacks. Specialized Recreation & Inclusion Services promotes “A Night of Giving & Service” every February and November.

Mushroom Workshop

Good Hope Farm hosted Cary’s first make-and-take culinary mushroom log workshop to a sold-out crowd. Participants learned about the nutritional benefits of mushrooms and left with everything they needed to grow their own culinary mushrooms at home. This workshop kicks off an expansion of the Farm to Fork Education and Outreach programs to connect the community with local foods while honoring local agricultural heritage. From compost workshops to honeybee habitats, Good Hope Farm has more than 50 educational events and workdays on the horizon in 2020.


Lieutenant Jeremy Burgin and Lieutenant Rob Carey received the 2020 First Responder of the Year Community Bridge Builder award. This award was given “in recognition of their tireless service and commitment to building bridges of trust, legitimacy, empathy and understanding of people of all races, cultures, genders and backgrounds in their role as first responders in and around the Cary, NC community.” The award was presented by TruAccess on February 22 at the Future of Black History event held at the Mayton Inn.


Mark Johns, Operations and Programs Supervisor – Environmental at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, and Laura White, former Hemlock Bluffs Supervisor, co-authored a chapter of 30 Great North Carolina Science Adventures. Their chapter is titled, as you might expect, “Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve and the Stevens Nature Center.” This science guidebook features thirty sites across North Carolina that are perfect for exploration and hands-on learning about the Earth and the environment. It is slated for release from UNC Press in April.

Advisory Board Meetings

Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Advisory Board

Mon, 3/2, 5:15 p.m.

Town Hall, Conf. Room 11130

Information Services Advisory Board

Mon, 3/2, 6:00 p.m.

Town Hall, Conf. Room 10035

Zoning Board of Adjustment

Mon, 3/2, 6:30 p.m.

Town Hall, Council Chambers

Get in Touch

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about the RDUAA’s plans at Umstead Park
  • A request for solar gardens
  • Questions about the proposed multi-modal transportation center
  • A question about the multi-sports complex
  • A request to install solar flowers in the downtown park
  • A concern about speeding from Middle Creek High School. Staff and police promptly addressed this issue. Here is the response from the citizen with the concern:
    “My sincere thanks for your rapid and effective response to my request for assistance! I have already heard from Toni and Bryant with great follow-up and communications. I could not have asked for better help, and I wish the same response would be seen as a model for other towns and cities. …”

You’re welcome! We work at the pleasure of our citizens who are at the top of the organizational chart.

Next week will be a busy week for me, the council, and staff. My activities include reading at White Oak Elementary, a photo op with Miss Cary, staff meetings, and the council-staff working retreat.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 8th.  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. Pay it Forward photo and NCDOT map courtesy of the Town of Cary staff and Coronavirus map by World Health Organization. All other photos by Ashley Kairis.

6 replies
  1. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Does the town have additional procedures for covid-19 beyond what Wake co is doing? Their “this is no big deal” communications might be just a way to try to calm people down (not working, by the way) but if it is their actual approach to the situation, it falls short of protecting the public. In an ABC report (https://abc11.com/5984946/), the Wake co official seems to think not everyone on the plane needs contacted (“North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen said HHS would contact passengers who came in contact with the infected patient and check for signs of COVID-19, however, Kippis said Wednesday that health officials do not need to contact anyone else who was on the flight.”) and Kippis is also downplaying the potentiality of asymptomatic transmission.

  2. Brent
    Brent says:

    I believe you omitted the Cary150 Task Force from your list of citizens advisory groups at the Tuesday mingle.

  3. Len Nieman
    Len Nieman says:

    The ‘Dynamic Left Turn’ from Tryon Rd to Cary Pkwy isn’t working very well at all. I went through there around 2pm today, returning from a doctor appointment. People planning to enter the Wellington Park Shopping Center, or the Circle-K gas station, are ignoring the red ‘X’. There were at least 9 cars lined up in that lane to move directly into the righthand lane on Cary Pkwy without having to do a lane shift. There were only 4 cars in the ‘approved’ left turn lane. Plus with all the westbound traffic on Tryon Rd, the wait with the blinking yellow was far longer than I’ve ever experienced under the old signal arrangement.

  4. Gary Brown
    Gary Brown says:

    Regarding asbestos, put this on someone’s to-do list when Cary Towne Center demolition starts:

    Provide masks, etc. to residents at the nearby Stoneridge Gracious Retirement Living.
    (Located between the Fenton and CTC)

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