Don Frantz: Catching Up On 2014

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Cary, NC — Long time no hear from eh? C’mon….admit it. You know you missed my blog posts 😉

Well life has been a little hectic these days to say the least. Mostly good stuff though. We have two sons getting married soon, some long overdue remodel projects are underway (we’re finally getting a new bathroom!!!), work (the one that pays the bills) is busy and I’m restoring a 1948 Chevy Pickup.

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See Ed, who says I don’t care about Historic Preservation 😉

And I have to admit, when I have to decide whether to spend time with the family or write a blog post…well…it’s a pretty easy choice. Family. Unlike Lori, I can’t bang these things out in 15 minutes. Hi Lori! 😉

All that said, we have some catching up to do!

Walnut Street Repaving

I’m sure you all heard a lot about this one. Repave Walnut Street (from Kildaire Farm Rd. to Cary Town Blvd.) as-is or eliminate two travel lanes and construct a landscaped median and bike lanes.

I first want to commend our town staff – especially Lori Cove and Kyle Hubert – for all their efforts and outside the box thinking on this project. When planning the Walnut Street repave, they decided to take a second look and see if maybe there was a better way to move cars and people while also improving aesthetics. Believe it or not, both options presented would be about the same cost.

Staff spent a great deal of time presenting both alternatives to the public and gathering feedback. Given the number of emails the council received from citizens this was no easy task.

And to make matters even more complicated, a few bright citizens suggested a possible hybrid of the two options – an option C if you will. This option would still allow for one travel lane in each direction and bike lanes but would not construct the median. Town engineers however were not supportive of this option.

The council ultimately decided to go with repaving Walnut Street as-is. This was no easy decision as there were a number of pros and cons to both options. For me however, the kicker was that if we constructed the median, while it would surely improve aesthetics, many folks who live along Walnut would have to drive past their home and make a U-Turn to get to their driveway. When leaving home, depending on their destination, they might have to make another U-Turn to get to where they are going. I know that if I lived along Walnut Street (I live just behind it) this would drive me insane. I couldn’t vote to drive folks insane 😉

Repaving is scheduled to begin sometime the end of June first of July.

Academy Street, Downtown Park and Fountain

Ya know, I guess we are pretty blessed when our biggest issue lately seems to be a fountain 😉

The council has held a number of meetings over the last few months to discuss both the Academy Street Improvement Project and the Downtown Park/Town Square/Fountain.

The Academy Street project is moving through the engineering phase just fine. About the only changes made have been to eliminate the proposed arch(s) and reduce the number of artistic elements. The feeling was that a little art goes a long way and we could way over do it if we weren’t careful. Plus we are going to have a lot of art in the park already. The council also decided to align the vehicle travel lanes at the intersection of Dry and Academy (if you’ve been through there you know what I’m talking about).

Engineering of the town square component of the downtown park has also been moving along just fine, well, almost – except for that pesky fountain.

I know it sounds trivial as you wouldn’t expect a friggin fountain to cause so much controversy. And honestly it probably wouldn’t have had the consulting/design team listened to council direction on the front end. They didn’t.

The council was clear – crystal clear – that we wanted a fountain that was classical and traditional in nature – one that respected its historic surroundings while at the same time having that “wow factor” that would make folks want to come see it. Art could be incorporated to the design, but the fountain’s primary purpose would be a fountain – not the other way around.

They came back with this.

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Needless to say I was not pleased. Neither was council. In no way is the above image remotely close to what we were looking for. While this might work on SAS campus, Disneyland or Sea World, it sure as heck doesn’t work in Cary’s historic district.

Somewhere along the way, the artist the town hired to work with the design team on the park morphed into a fountain artist.

I was angry and disappointed and I let everyone know it. But to be fair I also apologized to the artist who was in attendance for being misled – by whom I don’t exactly know – because he was never hired to design the fountain. We made that clear. He was hired to help us incorporate artistic elements into the park.

So, where are we now? Where we should have been at the first meeting – reviewing images and elements of fountains and deciding which ones we would like to incorporate into Cary’s fountain. Staff and the design team will now take that input and bring back to council a few concepts to review that are in line with our expectations.

It has been a long and painful process, but things do seem much more positive now. In the end I am sure it will be worth it.

Finances

At our last council meeting we received some very good news. Revenues are beating budget by over $5 Million! Many thanks to everyone in the Town Manager’s office, the Budget and Finance Department and Department Directors for a job well done!

Bass Pro Shops

Do I really need to say anything about this? I mean, its Bass Pro Shops! In Cary! How awesome is that!

Dumb Median

Council member Jennifer Robinson and I recently met with NCDOT and Secretary Tony Tata to discuss removing the median at Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch Road. This median was a NCDOT and CSX requirement. It was not the Town of Cary’s idea. NCDOT and the railroad required this median when Morrisville Parkway was extended to Highway 55. They believed it would increase public safety. They were wrong 😉 What we have discovered is that not only does it impede traffic flow, but folks are actually driving over and around the median further putting their lives and those of others at risk. It was a very positive meeting and we are optimistic that NCDOT will allow the removal of this median. You can see Mrs. Robinson and I discuss this issue in more detail on Cary Matters here.

NC House 41

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about the NC House District 41 race so far. I guess it is because I know both Tom Murry and Gale Adcock pretty well? Anyways, I do have the utmost respect for both of them. I admire and look up to one of them. They both possess impressive resumes and records. Given the makeup of the district and previous election results, the key to winning this district will be turnout. Whichever candidate gets their voters to the polls will win period. I expect both sides and especially outside special interest groups will spend well over $500,000 on this one race to sway less than 2% of unaffiliated voters. I wish them both the best of luck.

What? You thought I was going to pick a favorite? Silly reader…… 😉 Not yet anyways.

But it will be interesting to see if the same folks who were critical of me running for the state house and “using my council seat as a springboard” will treat Mrs. Adcock in the same manner. Ya, I know….silly Don 😉

Downtown Cary Farmer’s Market

Just a heads up that the Downtown Cary Farmer’s Market will be open this Saturday from 8:00 – 12:30. Their new location is on Chatham Street in between Ashworth Drugs and the Adcock Building on the lawn of the historic Ivey Ellington-Waddell House (the old house with the green roof – you can’t miss it). I would love to say “see you there!”, but we gots a young’n getting hitched this weekend! 😉 Which reminds me, I need to go pick up my suit from the tailor.

Well, that’s what I have for now – as always, thanks for reading!

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From the blog of Don Frantz, Member of the Cary Town Council District B. Opinions are his own.

1 reply
  1. Len Nieman
    Len Nieman says:

    I grew up in St. Louis, MO, which has lots of ‘classic’ fountains scattered throughout the city. A quick Google! Image Search using key words “Fountains in St. Louis MO parks” might give folks some ideas that fit Cary better than a ‘Stork on a pole’.

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