Harold’s Blog: Council Retreat, Tree Lightings and More

Cary, NC – This was a busy week for me with several long nights.

Monday – Planning for the Week

Monday I attempted to contact all the council members for questions or concerns they might have on the regular meeting agenda. I was able to contact 4 of the 6 council members. Comments from council members were mostly focused on the Historic Landmarks public hearing and the Silverton rezoning. Later in the day I met with staff and went over the agenda items.

Next I was joined by council member Bush for a meeting with Town Manager Stegall. Most of our time was spent going over the mini retreat agenda that was scheduled for the next day.

Monday night I had the joy and pleasure of talking with about a hundred Glenaire residents on current activities in the town. My topics included the Opioid crisis, downtown developments, eastern gateway developments, and our rebranding efforts. My talk lasted about 35 minutes and then I answered questions another 20 minutes. I really enjoyed my time there and hope that I am invited back in the future.

Tuesday – Council Retreat

Tuesday council and staff held a mini-retreat to do a deep dive on several topics. Those topics included a financial update, a catalog of projects and services, a stormwater management update, historic preservation, affordable housing, and the 2018 council meetings schedule.

Some notable items from the financial update included:

  • End of the FY2017 fund balance was $101.3 million.
  • Revenues are 1% higher than last year. Expenditures are on pace with last year.
  • Council approved a motion to refinance $105 million in bonds that will save us $8 million.
  • Council approved a motion to transfer $70,000 for the Ederlee sidewalk project.
  • Council approved a motion to use federal forfeiture funds for police radio batteries, computer tablets, investigative tools and software, and training.
  • Council approved a motion to appropriate $1 million to replace vehicles with Takata air bags which are a known safety risk. Note that all of these vehicles were scheduled for replacement within the next couple of years anyway.
  • Council approved a motion to appropriate $75,000 seed money to get decision points for a private streets study, a retail study, and the Piney Plains corridor study.

According to staff our financial status remains very strong.

The Catalog of projects and services session included the following points:

  • We need to eliminate silos, apply new technology, and continue to improve all while continuing to operate with excellent levels of service.
  • Currently there are 686 active projects including 405 capital projects and 281 non-capital projects.
  • There are 546 services currently being performed.
  • There is a relentless focus on operational integration.
  • With must partner with the citizens so that they understand the cost of services. An analogy would be Amazon allowing you to choose to have free delivery by waiting longer or get it sooner by paying more.

The stormwater management session was an update on the progress being made to create a plan. The complete plan will be presented in February at the annual council-staff retreat. Here are some of the takeaways from that session:

  • It has been said you can’t pave your way out of congestion. Similarly you can’t pipe your way out of stormwater issues.
  • Our future stormwater plan will include a downtown standard, targeted maintenance, and effective partnerships.
  • Stormwater issues belong to all of us whether we have a problem or not.
  • Cary adopted its stringent sediment and erosion controls in 1985.
  • Cary began requiring stormwater management plans for new development in 1990.
  • Cary allowed lots to be plotted in flood plains up until 2001.
  • There are 800 structures in some degree of risk.
  • Half of Cary was built before ordinances were in place to prevent building in the flood plain.

Historic preservation included the following points in its session:

  • The National Historic Preservation Act was created in 1966 and amended in 1971 and 1980.
  • The National Environmental Policy Act requires review when a federal action significantly affects the quality of the human environment including the cultural environment.
  • The State Environment Policy Act requires review when significant state expenditures or actions significantly affect the quality of the environment including historical or cultural elements.
  • The Historic Preservation Commission surveys and identifies, recommends, regulates, advocates and educates, and negotiates for purchase.
  • Cary’s historic inventory was last updated in 2014.
  • 358 properties were surveyed with 294 being residential.
  • The least represented area was pre-1850,
  • The oldest building recorded is the Nancy Jones House built in 1803.
  • The most unusual resource is Heater Alley.
  • There are several opportunities for preservation in Carpenter and Green Level.
  • Preservation tools include demolition delay, incentives, and a revolving fund.

The last session at the mini-retreat was on affordable housing. It was pointed out in the presentation that certain types of housing can help with affordability such as duplexes, triplexes, courtyard apartments, bungalows, townhouses, and multiplexes. In the council discussion I, along with other council members, believed that housing types are not key with affordability because each of those housing types in the particular location would not be affordable. In addition, affordability and subsidized housing are two separate issues. There is also a negative perception of Cary and affordable housing. That is, the belief is that Cary residents don’t want it and that Cary isn’t trying to provide it. A slide presented by staff showed that between 2004 and 2016 Cary has spent over $9 million on affordable housing. And we continue to work to provide affordable housing in Cary. We will talk more about this topic at our retreat in February.

Wednesday – Wake Transit Plan

Wednesday I attended the monthly meeting of CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board). There were three consent items and three presentations. Presentations included an update on the potential federal rescission, an update on the Wake Transit Plan Implementation, and an update on the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. One interesting point that I noted was that the region’s population is projected to go from 1.2 million to 2.1 million by 2045. This will drastically change the need for transportation and the need for jobs in the area. I am proud to say that Cary is already working on issues related to those projections.

Later Wednesday I attended the graduation ceremony for the 41st Cary Police Academy. Twenty-six Cary residents took twelve sessions to learn about our police department and our town. It is my hope that they will take their knowledge and become ambassadors for the town. And that their message will include that fact that public safety is a partnership between law enforcement and its citizens. There ceremony was wonderful and had a great keynote speaker, Sgt. Katherine Christian, who told her life story of becoming a police officer. Thanks to all the citizens who participated and if you are interested they are taking applications now for the 42nd class.

Thursday – Town Council Meeting

Thursday I joined council members in a reception for the Hometown Spirit Award nominees. The Hometown Spirit Award is bestowed upon citizens with demonstrated leadership and integrity. In addition, the recipient must exemplify at least one of the following criteria: help out neighbors and fellow Cary residents; demonstration hospitality; promote and preserve traditional American pastimes; show a concern for preservation and work to preserve traditions and the small-town atmosphere in the community; promote entrepreneurship through supporting locally owned businesses; promote a sense of community in their neighborhood and all of Cary; demonstrate patriotism through promotion and preservation of the country’s symbols and dedication to the U.S. military, past and present; and serve the community through business. This year’s slate of nominees included a lot of great Caryites: Ralph and Daphne Ashworth, Caitlin Burke, Lindsey Chester, Al Cohen, Nathaniel Greene, Guy Mendenhall, Tru Pettigrew, Becca Smith, and Mia South. After making a few opening remarks I recognized Ralph Ashworth. Then each council member took turns recognizing the remainder of the nominees who all provided a few remarks. It was a great time of fun and laughter.

Thursday night the council held its last regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. The council meeting included three recognitions and reports, ten consent items, three public hearings, five discussion items, and a closed session.

Under recognitions and reports the council approved the 2018 Management Plan for the Booth amphitheater. This was the second year in a row that the Booth amphitheater returned a surplus to the General fund.

Our first recognition of the evening was the renaming the Meeting Place park located a Kildaire Farm Road and Pleasant Drive. We named it after Kay Struffolino who has been a citizen of Cary for 45 years and a Cary Hometown Spirit winner. She has dedicated her life to the improvement of Cary including adopting two parks to maintain. She has donated thousands of dollars to beautify Cary’s parks and greenways, and has served on numerous boards, committees, and task forces, all for the betterment of Cary. Simply put, Kay is a citizen in the truest sense of the word. It is due to this selfless commitment that Meeting Place Park was renamed in her honor. We love you Kay!

Our second recognition was the Hometown Spirit Award winner. Last year’s winner, Sheila Ogle, did the honors of opening the envelope and announcing that Ralph and Daphne Ashworth were the winners. Ralph & Daphne have been supporting local businesses in Cary since 1957 when they began Ashworth Drugs in downtown Cary. Since then they have been very active in both the business and philanthropic community. Not only have the Ashworths grown their own business, they’ve helped bring other businesses to downtown Cary to thrive in Ashworth Village. In addition, the Ashworths are among the greatest supporters of the North Carolina Veterans Freedom Park on North Harrison Avenue and they have been hosting a 4th of July ice cream social for seniors and veterans at the Cary Senior Center at Bond Park for more than 30 years. Congratulations Ralph and Daphne!

The Public Speaks Out portion there were several speakers against a proposed rezoning that would allow townhomes in Silverton at the northeast quadrant of the northwest Cary Parkway and Evans Road intersection. The applicant also spoke and asked that this item be tabled so that he could have more time to work with the neighbors. That request was granted later in the meeting.

The Fenton public hearing had several speakers say they were in favor of the development. Some pointed out that they go to Park West or North Hills and would prefer to stay in Cary. The council will have a work session on the Fenton proposal on December 5th.

There were also several speakers who spoke in favor of the staff recommended historic landmarks. Those landmarks included the White Plains Cemetery in the Maynard Oaks Subdivision, the Cary Arts Center, and the Jones House. After the public hearing and a few comments by council members this was unanimously approved.

Because of the Silverton rezoning being table there was really only one discussion item which was a rezoning request at Old White Oak Church Road. The proposal was conditioned to only allow detached residential and neighborhood recreation. Addition restrictions limited the density to 2.25 dwelling units per acre, provided a minimum community gathering space of 5,000 square feet, and provided a ten-foot wide strip of common open space adjacent to the eastern property line. After hearing from staff and the Planning and Zoning board’s chairman about their recommendation for approval, the council unanimously approved the request.

After a closed session the council meeting was adjourned after about two and a half hours.

Friday – Waverly Tree Lighting

Friday I had the joy of participating in the 6th annual tree lighting at Waverly Place. I have been fortunate to be a part of each of their tree lightings. After arriving I joined Santa Claus and Santa’s dancers in a staging area. Once they were ready for me I was placed behind the big tree. Then I was introduced and gave remarks which included thanking sponsors and businesses. Finally I introduced Santa. Santa made a few remarks and then I joined him in a countdown to light the tree. Santa threw magic dust on the tree at zero and the tree was lit. What a great time and a lot of fun.

Saturday – Parkside Town Commons Tree Lighting

Saturday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha and council member George for the Parkside Commons tree lighting. The event was geared towards families and it was packed. They also announced their outdoor skating rink which will be open until January 7th. At the event I welcomed everyone and then invited “three or four” children to help me flip the switch. We ended up with about two dozen children to flip the switch. It was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Emails from Staff

Emails this week included notification that Cary was highlighted in video by Cisco showing smart cities. You can see the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqLOSiXh5WY.

Council was also presented a quarterly report this week at the mini-retreat on Tuesday. Some notable items include:

  • Our budgeting process is now ongoing rather than a onetime year event.
  • In FY 2017 (fiscal year 2017), ending in June, we budgeted a decrease in the General Fund of $20.9 million but actual decrease was $1.4 million.
  • In FY2017 revenues exceeded expenses by $19.5 million.
  • In FY2017 the utility fund exceed expenses by $6.9 million.
  • A space in the Village Square shopping center of Amberly will be the home of PRCR activities in western Cary.
  • Panther Creek greenway bid went out in October and should be completed in the spring of 2019.
  • White Oak greenway construction is underway and should be completed in the winter of 2019.
  • Cary Teen council provided over 7,300 hours of volunteer time equaling about $158,000 in cost savings.
  • 85,000 people attended this year’s Lazy Daze.
  • Cary’s population was estimated to be 161,078 as of October 1st. This is a 1.67% increase from the same quarter last year. The lowest since 2005.
  • Preliminary construction is underway for Morrisville Parkway extension and NC540 interchange. This project cost $21.4 million and is expected to be completed in the winter of 2020.
  • A thermal imaging sensor was installed at the intersection of Dry Avenue and Academy Street in July to detect pedestrians crossing.
  • NCDOT Rail is discussing the Harrison Bridge project over the rails. The tunnel at Walker was eliminated from consideration. Southeast Maynard grade separated rail crossing is being evaluated.
  • The Green Level West Road widening is ongoing. The project costs $14 million and will be completed in the winter of 2019.
  • The Cary Parkway and High House Intersection project has completed design. This $3.9 million project is projected to be completed in the winter of 2019.
  • The Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge and Intersection project is nearing design completion. This $18.2 million project is projected to be completed in the spring of 2021.
  • There have been 100 overdoses in Cary since January resulting in 4 fatalities.
  • Both the North and South Cary Wastewater Treatment Facilities have been designated as Exceptional Performing Facilities.
  • Fire frequency increased 23% during the last quarter compared to last year.
  • EMS calls increased 3.26% during the last quarter compared to last year.
  • There is a new police substation in Wellington Park Shopping Center off Tryon Road.

You can read the entire quarterly report at http://www.townofcary.org/mayor-council/town-council/quarterly-reports/q1-fy-2018.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

First Quarter Takeaways

I hope you’ve had an opportunity to read the new quarterly report as a supplement to our discussion on Tuesday. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to have a productive discussion with staff on a variety of important issues facing our community now and in the future. We know that there are many next steps for our February Council/Staff retreat and we look forward to those conversations.

Council Member Robinson asked about specifics related to budget adjustments. Those are listed in the quarterly report and are online here under the section Q1 Delegated Authority Financial Actions.

Once again, thank you to SAS for their hospitality. The meeting room space was first-class and provided a great setting for our first quarterly meeting.

Lori Cove Sentencing Update

Earlier today, Superior Court Judge Shirley sentenced Christopher Moore to 182-231 months in prison, which is consistent with what was asked for by the District Attorney and Lori’s family. Please keep Lori and her family in your thoughts.

Cary TV Offered on Google TV

Google was onsite to connect our PEG channel, Cary TV, to its television service. The connection is now in testing mode, and at Google’s discretion, at some point over the next few weeks those in Cary with Google TV service will be able to watch our channel. We anticipate being the first PEG channel in the Triangle to be offered on Google TV. Kudos to Dale Naleway for his efforts and coordination with Google.

Temporary Cell Towers Installed

AT&T and T-Mobile received approved this week to install their 100′ temporary cellular tower on the Plumtree Water Tank property. Verizon has also submitted plans for a second temporary tower for their equipment, which will be approximately 90′ tall. AT&T and T-Mobile will begin their temporary tower installation today and antennas will be moved to the temporary tower the wek of November 27.

Both temporary towers are required to be no higher than 100′ and must reside within the Town’s property line so that if laid down, the tower would not cross into any adjacent properties. The temporary towers will be in place during the duration of the tank painting project and must be removed within 60 days from notice by the Town at the completion of the painting project. The completion of the painting project and the relocation of the cellular antennas back on the tank column is expected in the summer of 2018.

Best-Tasting Water Contest

The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility earned second place honors in annual state-wide best tasting water contest. Each year at the American Water Works Association North Carolina annual conference, water samples submitted by utilities across the state are judged by a volunteer panel for relative good taste. The water samples are ranked in order of the panel’s preferences. Since 2003, the Town of Cary has placed first or second eight times.

Cary Represented at Water Works Association Meeting

With over 1,400 attendees, this year’s NC American Water Works Association conference was one of the biggest water events in the state of NC and the technical expertise of Town Cary staff was on full display. Experts from around the state and across the country gave presentations during the conference, providing continuing education and sharing ideas with other water professionals. This year, Cary staff presented at five of technical sessions. Presenters included Emily Barrett (Energy Optimization), Jeff Adkins & Sarah Braman (Water Use Analytics), Kelly Spainhour (Partnership with Winston-Salem to Improve Biosolids Analytical Standards), Rachel Monschein & Erin Lee (Cary-Apex Water Treatment Facility Powder Activated Carbon Optimization), and Matt Wetherell (Improved Locating of Critical Water Lines).

In addition to the technical presentations, Damon Forney, our Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility manager, had the opportunity to show off the facility. The tour gave conference attendees a chance to see the great work he and his staff do every day to protect our water resources. Great job, team!

Charity Golf Tournament

The Bradford’s Ordinary Fire Company held its inaugural charity golf tournament on Monday at Prestonwood Country Club. The event raised more than $30,000 to support Operation Lifesaver, a service that helps locate missing people who are cognitively challenged and the Miracle League of the Triangle, which creates positive life experiences for children and adults with special needs.

Median Plantings Continue

Continuing with the fall median plantings, this week staff from Public Works spruced up Morrisville Parkway with some trees and plantings.

Thanksgiving Week Preview

We hope everyone, Council and staff, can enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. Due to the holiday, citizens with Thursday collection for trash, recycling and yard waste will have their items collected on Friday. GoCary will not be in service on Thanksgiving but will resume normal operations on Friday.

Also, we will not be sending out a Weekly Report next week. However, we would like to recognize all of the staff that will be serving our public over the Thanksgiving holiday while town offices are closed. Thank you!

Recognitions

Paul Ray, Manager of the North Cary Water Reclamation Facility, was awarded the William D. Hatfield Award for outstanding performance and professionalism in wastewater treatment operations. The William D. Hatfield award was presented to Paul at the NC AWWA-WEA conference held in Raleigh earlier this week. This is the highest state level award for wastewater treatment operators offered through NC AWWA-WEA. Paul has been with the Town of Cary for 29 years and has been the Manager of NCWRF since 2012.

Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about the Goddard School project on Kildaire Farm Road (not a council decision)
  • Several complaints about the potential Crabtree Crossing connection from Morrisville (This is not a Cary decision but a Morrisville decision. I have made it clear to the Mayor, Mayor-Elect, and several council members that we are opposed to this connection)
  • A question about the Panther Creek Greenway bid.
  • A complaint about a street preacher in front of Cary High School.

Next week is a holiday week and only includes a meeting with the town manager and meetings with elected officials from other municipalities.

Get in Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 26th.  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. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.

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