Harold’s Blog: Jam-Packed Week

From the blog of  Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week of October 31, 2010.

This week was a busy week with several events and a council meeting.

The Love Affair with Trains and Cary

Monday’s first event was the groundbreaking ceremony of the Cary Depot. I met several State and Federal officials at the train station in Raleigh. After a short reception, we boarded the train to Cary. As we arrived in Cary and departed the train, the Cary Band played “I’ve been working on the Railroad.” Getting off a train with a band playing was a unique and surreal experience for me. I thought that only happened in the movies. Anyway, it was a great treat and made me proud to represent Cary.

There were plenty of speeches for the ceremony. Congressman Price started and recognized the federal funds that make this project possible. Then it was my turn. I gave welcoming comments. Here are excerpts from my greetings:

… Some of you may not realize it, but today’s Cary would not exist if it weren’t for the railroad.  Our first developer way back in the mid-1800’s got a tip that the NC Railroad might be running a line from New Bern to Hillsborough.  That developer, Frank Page, bought up 300 acres and built a hotel right next to the tracks.

Well, I think we can all agree that Page’s gamble sure paid off.

Now as our Page Walker Arts and History Center, the restored building stands just a block from where we are now, helping to anchor today’s community in the foundation of our past.  And with more than 143,000 people calling Cary home, we’ve become one of the safest and best places to live, work, and do business in America.

Today, we mark a new chapter in our love affair with trains as we celebrate the expansion of this passenger station in the heart of our community.

I want to thank both the Federal and State governments for their support of this project and tell you just how proud we are to be working with you once again. …

I was followed with comments from NCDOT Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti and Joseph Szabo from the Federal Railroad Administration. Then we all grabbed a shovel, posed for pictures, threw dirt and posed for more pictures. All in all it was a great time for me.

After the ceremony I went home, squeezed in a four mile run, packed a suitcase and headed to Winston Salem. The NCLM (North Carolina League of Municipalities) was holding their fall conference in Winston Salem. That evening I attended a reception and dinner where I was able to meet with elected officials from around the state.

Regional Issues

Tuesday morning I was the featured speaker in a session called “Local Networking Equals Legislative Results.” My talk was about the Mayor’s Association deciding to create a legislative agenda to present to the Wake County delegation in this year’s short session. It is important to know that in the short session only non controversial local bills can be introduced. Our agenda was a unanimous proposal that was ratified by all Wake County municipalities. As a result, we had an item that was not only supported by all the Wake County legislative delegation but co-sponsored across party lines by eight of nine representatives. The NCLM thought this was impressive and that was the main reason they invited me to speak. After I spoke, we broke up into small groups for an exercise to figure out ways to gain support to solve regional issues around the state.

After speaking I jumped in my car and headed back to Cary. On the way I made agenda calls to all the council members about Thursday’s council meeting. I was only able to contact council members Adcock and Portman. The only issue that seemed like it would generate discussion was a proposed substitute financial agreement for the Village Square development in Amberly.

Cary Development

Once I arrived in Cary, I attended the Agenda Meeting with managers and directors. There were a lot of presentations planned for Thursday’s meeting so we discussed that, the Village Square financial agreement, and the affordable housing plan.

After the agenda meeting I met with the town manager and the Mayor Pro-Tem to catch up on issues. Our town manager had been out of the country for a couple of weeks so we were overdue for a discussion.

Wednesday afternoon I taped the November episode of Cary Matters with council member Portman. The main topic was on the rezoning process. Questions and Answers included the Annie Jones Greenway renovation and leaf collection.

Ethics

Wednesday evening I participated in a work session on ethics. This is now required of all municipal officials since being passed last session by the General Assembly. The requirement includes a 2 hour webinar which was created by two School of Government experts on ethics and law. After the webinar the council was tasked with rewriting their ethics policy to be more in line with the new state guidelines. After an hour of this combined with a couple hours of the video we were spent. So we gave the attorney guidelines and asked her to write a draft for us to review.

Honoring Outgoing Board and Commission Members

Thursday afternoon the council and staff honored the outgoing board and commission members with a reception. It was great to meet the people who have sacrificed their time to serve the town. Cary is blessed to have so many dedicated individuals interested in serving.

Council Biz

Thursday night’s council meeting went as predicted. After about an hour of presentations the only two discussion topics were the affordable housing plan and the financial agreement for Amberly’s Village Square.

Cary Band Day

Friday night I attended the Cary Band Day Alumni Celebration. I was honored to meet the Grand Marshall of this year’s parade, Robert Henry Duarte. While most people have known him for 18+ years I had just met him. But his personality made me feel like I had known him for years. Robert works as a custodian by day and in his spare time as a brick mason. He has held these two jobs for years to put his wife through divinity school. According to all that know him he always has a smile on his face. God bless you and all you do Robert.

Saturday morning I attended the 52nd Cary Band Day parade. All though the parade was small it still was a lot of fun. I know there is interest in growing the participation. I have offered to help in any way I can.

Robert Duarte, Grand Marshall of the 52nd Annual Cary Band Day. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

LL B-Ball

After lunch I attended the final little league game of the Town of Cary D-Bats which the council sponsored. I was lucky to have my picture made with the team and was able to stay and watch most of the game. The players and coaches seemed to have a lot of fun and even created a tradition of eating apples to enhance their luck. Very interesting.

Alfresco Arts

I left the little league game and headed over to the corner of Maynard and Chatham (where Lowe’s is located) for the dedication of the first installment of “Arts Alfresco” from Cary Visual Arts. This piece of art, created by Brad Spencer, was made of brick and also served as benches. Three figures of people are included in the piece which is very detailed. It is a great addition to the town’s growing artwork collection. I salute our continuing partnership with Cary Visual Art and all they do for our community.

More Bands

Saturday night I headed over to Cooper Field at Cary High School to watch the band competition. I was able to watch several high school bands and the exhibitions by Cary High’s band and NC State’s band. Afterward, I was part of the group that presented several trophies to the winners. It was a good time but it was a late evening putting me home between 12:30 and 1:00 AM. This was particularly tough since I had a full day of work on Sunday at SAS to make up for the time I missed while in Winston Salem earlier in the week.

Email – Morrisville Parkway

Emails this week included information from staff. One item of interest was the schedule for the Morrisville Parkway Railroad Grade Separation project. Construction of this project is expected to begin May of 2014 and finish around the end of 2016. These dates are very tentative but the project will certainly create headaches for those that live in this area. Although this will have a significant impact there will be little Cary officials can do since this is a NCDOT project that is located in Morrisville.

Email – Cable Fees

Another email this week informed council about Time Warner’s planned increase of its fees which is roughly $3 per month. According to information this will take effect on our next statement. Here is a statement from staff on this issue:

“We’ve been notified of an upcoming rate increase by Time Warner Cable.  As a reminder, the Town of Cary is no longer authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to regulate rates.  In addition, the company now operates under a State franchise agreement, not an agreement with the Town of Cary.  In short, there is nothing we can do to impact this issue.

And even though the franchise is now with the State, the State (NC Attorney General’s Office) also doesn’t regulate rates (http://ncdoj.gov/Consumer/Internet-Mail-Cable-TV/Cable-TV.aspx).  Rate complaints should be filed with the FCC:  http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/cablerates.html.”

Email – Cary Population

This week’s email also included the quarterly report from Town Manager Ben Shivar. One comment of interest included:

“Based on the number of Certificates of Occupancy issued, the Town of Cary’s population is estimated at 142,176 as of October 1, 2010, an increase of 4,693 people (+ 3.41%) since the October 1, 2009 estimate. Cary’s population has increased by 47,613 people (+50.35%) since the 2000 Census.  The Town has averaged a 4.86% annual population growth rate from October 1, 2005 until October 1, 2010.”

Other Things…

Emails this week included a lot of complaints such as the amphitheater noise levels, Apex’s Motiva proposal, our bio solids program, the Kildaire Farm Road project, demolition of a dilapidated house, a notice about not paying a water bill, and our program to assist employees with housing.

I am looking forward to a slower week next week. I will finally have a day off from my job at SAS and being mayor for the first time several weeks. The only problem is my wife will be in Europe. 🙁

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 7th.

If you’d like to send me a note, I’d love to hear from you:

  • Personal comments please send to augustanat@mindspring.com.
  • All Town of Cary business – please email me at Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org