From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through March 27, 2011. Photo of County Meath by Johnida Dockens.
As predicted, this was a busy week with a work session, a taping of Cary Matters and a council meeting.
Monday began with an agenda meeting of the directors and town management staff to go over Thursday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. The main focus was the proposed apartments at Northwood’s Harrison Point.
This was the first project to go through the new process that includes multiple public hearings and community meetings. I mentioned that we might want to review this process and staff agreed after the Tryon Road and Cary Parkway project goes through.
At the end of the agenda meetings, I usually make a guess as to how long the council meetings will last. Usually, I am close. This week I am predicting 8:30 as the adjournment time.
The Mayors: Health, Transit, Taxes
Monday night, I attended the Mayors Association meeting. All mayors were present except Mayor Meeker of Raleigh, Mayor Sears of Holly Springs, and Mayor Holcombe of Morrisville.
The meeting began with a short presentation from the Wake County Council on Fitness and Health. Their presenter was Donna Gregory of WRAL fame. The goal of this group is to “develop a county-wide ‘share your moves’ initiative utilizing a partnership between the 12 municipalities, their mayors and the Wake County Council on Fitness & Health.” To find out more you can go to http://www.wakefitness.com.
After the presentation, the mayors talked at length about transit. There was a great deal of discussion about the ½ cents sales tax proposed and what would be done with it if it passed. The mayors present strongly supported increased bus service as a first step.
Sister City in Ireland
Tuesday was my weekly meeting with the town manager. Because of the work session we only met for a few minutes. We discussed the temperature problems at the Senior Center since we have received complaints on this matter.
After meeting with the town manager, I met with a delegation from County Meath Ireland which is a sister city. A council member (one of twenty nine), his wife, and the equivalent of the town manager were visiting. I talked with them all for a few moments and then gave them each a small gift from the town. My wife and I will be visiting County Meath Ireland in September, at our own expense.
I next met with our new downtown manager, Ed Gawf. He is currently in the mayor council office while his office is being made ready. Mr. Gawf has a wealth of experience and knows a few people in the community already from a chamber trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. He has also been to Cary and given presentations on downtown development.
I told Mr. Gawf that everyone was very glad he was here and that there were high expectations.
Quasi-Judicial Hearing, Redistricting and Cary Arts Center
Tuesday night the council had a work session on three topics.
The first topic was on quasi-judicial hearings. Since these are like court cases it is important that the council clearly understands what needs to be asked and how we need to present our findings. We also talked about different ways to structure the quasi-judicial hearings. Staff will come to us in the future with recommendations on changing our quasi-judicial hearings.
Our second topic was on redrawing the council districts. This is required after every census if the districts are out of balance. Cary’s districts are way out of balance with District A having 54,022, District B having 26,335, District C having 31,375, and District D having 23,510. There were 15 different scenarios presented by staff. Council discussed each one but didn’t find one that was what they wanted even though two were close. Staff will come back in the second week in April with a more defined set of scenarios for council to choose from.
Our final topic was the renaming of the Cary Cultural Arts Center. Staff presented close to 200 names to council for review. Each council member submitted five names from that list. With some overlap this reduced the list of names to fifteen. Next each council member was given three red dots and asked to put them by names they liked. This resulted in four choices. Then a motion was made on one of the choices which passed 5-2. The new name of the facility will be the Cary Arts Center.
The strongest argument for this name was that people will call it the “arts center” regardless of the given name. I supported this name even though there were several other good names. By Wednesday morning we were already receiving criticism for the choice.
Harrison Pointe, Miracle League and Being a Cheerleader for Cary
Wednesday’s only meeting was a taping of Cary Matters. My co-host was Jack Smith and we taped all three segments with one take. The taping time lasted about 25 minutes. Our main topic was on Project PHOENIX which is a new police initiative for apartments.
Thursday’s council meeting lasted until about 10 PM. We spent over an hour on a rezoning proposal for Harrison Pointe near the corner of Maynard and Harrison. Although what was proposed by the developer was good, I felt that there are too many apartments in a 1 mile radius (2400+) and thus this was not a good use of the land. Bottom line, I was listening to the citizens who live in the area. The proposal passed council by a 5 to 2 margin.
Friday night I had dinner with Mayor Pro-Tem Robison. We have a quarterly dinner meeting to catch up on a variety of things. She attends several meetings on behalf of the town and it is important that I am kept current. So, in addition to providing details after meetings, she gives me summaries at these quarterly meetings. And of course we talk about our families. We are lucky to have Julie on the council.
Saturday morning I had the honor and privilege of throwing out the first pitch for the Miracle League of the Triangle’s spring season. I was amazed not only to see the enthusiastic parents and volunteers of these special needs children but to hear about the money and effort to get this field built. The Adams Elementary field is the only field of this type in Cary and in the area and was created with donations from the town, several businesses and many gracious and caring people. I was told it costs around $700,000 to build a field such as this. The Miracle League board is currently working to try and find a location for a field in the eastern part of the county.
Sunday I attended a Heart of Cary Association reception for our new downtown manager Ed Gawf. I was privileged to meet and talk with his wife and daughter. Ed gave a few good comments and I talked with him briefly before I left. One interesting comment he made to me that I totally agree with is that Cary citizens and business owners need to start speaking only of Cary in the positive. Amen! We should all be cheerleaders of Cary especially since we all stand to benefit from Cary’s success.
Emails this week included complaints about getting a citizen’s pool approved, a complaint about proposed apartments at Tryon and Cary Parkway, recommendations to vote against the apartments off Harrison, a complaint about the name for the Cary Art Center, and a request from the Preston Community Association.
Next week promises to be another full week for me with a couple of dinners and guest appearance for the Triangle Reading Service.
Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 3rd.
Please feel free to email me with a comment. Email all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org. Email personal comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.