Harold's Blog

Harold’s Blog: Transit, Politics, & Sales Tax

Harold's Blog

Cary, NC — This week was a week filled mostly with meetings.

Monday

Monday began with a short one-on-one meeting with the town manager. There were no new items to discuss. Instead, we talked about items I have mentioned in previous postings.

Wake County Mayors Association Meeting

Monday night I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. All twelve mayors were in attendance. Our guest speakers were Wake County manager Jim Hartmann, a staff assistant to the manager, and David King of Triangle Transit.

Public Transit in Wake County

The county manager’s presentation was on transit choices and on the existing advisory committee who are exploring all transit options.

He talked about projected population densities, poverty maps, congestion maps, average bus ridership, and other pertinent information related to transit.

He pointed out that the biggest decision will be whether to have higher ridership or higher coverage and the impact that will have on capital funding. The next advisory committee meets in April with a final recommendation scheduled for September. Find out more about Wake Transit.

Expanded Bus Systems

Our next presentation was from Triangle Transit’s CEO and general manager David King. Triangle Transit is governed by a 13 member Board of Trustees whose vice chair is Cary council member Robinson. Currently, Triangle Transit is adding express bus routes to help with congestion due to the “Fortify” project.

One of those express bus routes is from Cary’s town hall to downtown Raleigh.

In addition, Triangle Transit has added the Bus on the Shoulder program as another transit option. King talked about the triangle region doubling in size within the next 20 years and how the bus systems need to be more coordinated.

As a result, the Go Triangle regional bus system was created, which will coordinate all the bus systems. This will be implemented over the next two years.

Other Discussion Items

Once the presentations were done, the mayors went through their regular agenda. One of the discussion items was about creating a citizen committee to discuss the proposed change in voter registration in Wake County. The rest of the time was spent talking about legislative action and how it does or does not impact various municipalities in Wake County.

While specific statements in a Mayors Association stay within the room, I can tell you that several are concerned that standing up to the legislature could invite retribution. Our meeting concluded after about 3 hours.

Tuesday

Tuesday, I met with developers interested in a large project in downtown. This proposal is in the infancy stage, and they were just wondering what I thought of their ideas.

Of course, there would probably be town funded improvements needed for something this large, so there would be much future discussion if this does actually come forward. But it encouraging that developers continue to show interest in downtown.

Restaurant Tour

Later Tuesday, I had the pleasure of touring PDQ at Davis Drive and High House with the operating director and marketing director. All of their food is fresh and made to order. Their menu consists mainly of chickens and salads and was delicious.

One interesting note is that they don’t advertise on TV or radio. Instead, they would rather help market themselves through fund raising events in the community.

They are looking for opportunities to help with fundraisers. So, if you have a fundraiser coming up, you might want to give them a call.

Wednesday

Wednesday I attended the executive board meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. It was my first meeting as vice-chairman.

There was not a lot on the agenda and very little that impacted Cary. One interesting note from the Fortify presentation was that NCDOT was recycling hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete. That was good news to hear.

Thursday

Thursday I chaired a meeting of the Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory Committee.

Wastewater Management Facilities

Our meeting was very brief and included approval of the 2015 Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities Interlocal Agreement.

This is our new $300 million wastewater facility in New Hill. Our only other action was to approve the fiscal year 2015 operating budget for the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities and capital budget updates for the facility.

Golf Course Noise Ordinance 

Later Thursday, I met with general managers from Prestonwood and MacGregor Downs to talk about the proposed changes to the town’s noise ordinance as it relates to golf courses.

We had a great conversation, and they pointed out several facts related to golf course noise that most people probably don’t realize. It is my hope that these stakeholders are able to provide information to all council members before we make a decision on this topic.

Friday

Friday, I participated in the Metro Mayors weekly legislative update.

Legislative Politics

The ongoing war between urban and rural representatives continued in the legislature this week. Legislative action this week included an attempt in the committee to compromise on a bill to eliminate citizens’ protest petition on developments.

These protest petitions require a super majority to approve, so removing them only makes it easier for developers.

The voiced vote clearly sided with the compromise amendment, but the chair denied the amendment saying the vote failed. So it looks like the developers will soon have free reign without obstacles from citizens. Can you say “Publix in North Raleigh?” This is just another example of the daily partisan politics in the legislature.

Sales Tax Redistribution

Other shenanigans included the sales tax redistribution which is aimed at punishing the three big counties, including Wake. Legislatures have actually said they wanted to punish the three richest counties. It is a shame that we are seeing more elected officials act like children than representatives of the citizens. Hopefully, that will change one day.

A great Abraham Lincoln quote is, “You can’t make the weak stronger by making the strong weaker.” And, part of the state’s official toast is, “…Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great.” Kinda sums up my views and wishes.

Too bad the majority of the legislature thinks otherwise.

Saturday

Saturday, I joined council member Yerha in celebrating Arbor Day at the Ivey-Ellington House (home of Cary’s farmers market) in downtown. I was presented an award, on behalf of the town, from the NC Forest Service recognizing Cary as a Tree City USA.

This is the 32nd year we have received this award. Only about a dozen communities can boast that. In my remarks, I talked about the Tree City USA award and the town’s beautification and litter reduction program called SPRUCE. The next litter sweep is scheduled for April 11, 2015. I hope everyone will participate.

Find out more about SPRUCE and how to participate through the Town of Cary website.

Emails from Staff

Emails from staff this week included an update on downtown construction and events. The Academy Streetscape and Downtown Park Projects will be kicking off late spring.

Updates on Summer Events

As a result, Lazy Daze and other large street festivals (Wheels on Academy, Ritmo Latino, Eid Festival, etc.) will be relocated to North Academy Street around Town Hall Campus.

Chatham Street ChowDown (Food Truck Rodeo) will return with three event dates (April 19, July 26 and Oct 4). This event will be located on Chatham Street between Academy and Harrison and is held on a Sunday due to the availability of the food trucks.

Given the strong attendance last year, most of the merchants will hold special hours to be open during this event. The April and October date will be noon to 4:30 pm and the July event will be in the evening from 5 pm to 9:30 pm.

The Downtown Performers series and 7 o’clock rock series will be postponed for this year. Information to the general public about all of these changes will begin within the week.

Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included comments about Fordland Drive connection with the new Pritchett subdivision, questions about the Morrisville Parkway – Carpenter Upchurch intersection, questions about Google Fiber and several requests for meetings and events.

Get in Touch

Next week will be a busy week with a regularly scheduled council meeting and a work session. In addition, there will be a Cary Matters taping and a School of Government kickoff event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 29th. 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.

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From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photo by Jessica Patrick.

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