Harold’s Blog: State Legislature, Transportation and More

Cary, NC – This week included a lot of meetings and events.

Monday – Wake County Mayors and Local Student

Monday morning I talked with the Executive Director of CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) and the Vice Chair about Wednesday’s agenda. We agreed that the agenda was straight forward and based on the presentations we believed the meeting would take an hour to an hour and a half.

Monday afternoon I met with a high school senior and her parent for an interview about local government. Her questions focused on the impact of growth, governmental relationships, and future changes. We talked about half an hour before I gave her a tour of town hall.

Cary Mayor

Monday evening I joined a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. This meeting was held in Knightdale and only had half of Wake County’s mayors. Mayors from Cary, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell, and Zebulon were in attendance. We heard two presentations before beginning our typical agenda of providing updates to what was going on in a particular town. Most all municipalities reported upcoming civic events outdoors. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Tuesday – Gale Adcock

Tuesday was a fundraiser for former Cary Mayor Pro-Tem and current North Carolina legislator Gale Adcock. I have been fortunate to know Gale and her husband Kevin for a few years. What great people! The fundraiser was a who’s who in Cary and surrounding areas. I had great conversations with investors, downtown developers, elected officials, and Cary citizens.

The main speaker of the evening was former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt. You could tell from his comments that he loves this state with all his heart. He spoke of the need for people on the state level to work together to solve issues such as education. He also told stories about how he lived in Cary and how his first vote was cast when he lived in Cary. At the end of his comments he enthusiastically endorsed Gale Adcock. I had a few moments to talk with him and had my picture made with him. There were several hundred people in attendance at a beautiful 11,000 square foot home.

Wednesday – Transportation Improvement Program

Wednesday I chaired a meeting of CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization). On the agenda was one public hearing and five discussion items. During the public hearing two speakers spoke against the acceleration of the I540 project. After the public hearing the executive board approved the fiscal year 2018-2027 Transportation Improvement Program amendment. Discussion items included a presentation on NC Vision Zero. Their mission is to unite engineers, educators, emergency responders, law enforcement, and everyone in a cooperative effort to make North Carolina streets safe for all road users. We also heard about National Bike Month from a GoTriangle representative. The third discussion item was on the SPOT (Strategic Transportation Prioritization) update and target modal mixes that included two Cary rail projects; a Maynard Road bridge and a Trinity Road bridge. The final discussion item was an update on the Wake Transit Implementation. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Wednesday evening I met with the town clerk for a couple of hours. She meets with each council member at least once or twice a year to find out how things are going and how things can go better. We are blessed to have a fantastic clerk, Ginny Johnson, and it is very hard to find anything she can improve on.

Thursday – Cary Legislators

Thursday the council and staff management and directors met with the Cary delegation of the NC legislature. We presented our opioid initiative and gave a presentation on the Eastern Gateway plan. Afterwards I provided remarks about our legislative agenda. It is crucial that we and our legislators partner to protect our local interests and to keep Cary moving forward. Our meeting concluded after a couple of hours.

Saturday – Dodgeball and Children’s Day Festival

Saturday I gave welcome remarks to the first annual dodgeball tournament held at Bond Park Community Center. Not only was it a competition to win games but it was a competition for outfits. Council member Ed Yerha was the judge for the outfits. The proceeds from the tournament went to the Parks scholarship fund which helps the underserved by allowing them to join classes, camps, and participate in leagues. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the matches.

Cary Mayor

Later Saturday I gave remarks at the Children’s Day festival at the Sertoma Amphitheater. Children from many cultural backgrounds entertained the audience of several hundred. It is the hope of the town and of the organizers that this exposure to different cultures will foster understanding and tolerance which in turn makes our community stronger.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Courageous Conversations 

This week, the Town hosted two courageous conversations as part of our continued partnership with Tru Pettigrew. On Monday, the Town hosted the kick-off of the Heart and Arts series. This new series will leverage the power of various forms of the Arts to evoke courageous conversations surrounding various social and community issues. Monday’s event featured the 2017 documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro.” The film was based on a book by James Baldwin, a thought leader and contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. About 50 people were in attendance at The Cary, including Mayor Pro Tem Lori Bush and Council Member Ken George.

And on Wednesday, the fourth Rap Session for Town employees was held. Over 70 employees, our largest audience thus far, turned out to discuss the issue of sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement. It was incredible experience that was both heart-wrenching and inspiring all at once. Some of our staff were heroic in sharing personal experiences that reminded us that we each have a role to play in creating a great work environment. These difficult and courageous conversations are helping us to grow and become closer, which in turn allows us to better serve our community.

Trinity Rd. Stakeholders Meeting

On Monday, staff and our consultant (VHB) conducted stakeholder meetings with various property owners and groups interested in the Trinity Rd. extension between Cary Towne Blvd and E Chatham St. These were information gathering meetings. Our project team educated the stakeholders about the study, but the main focus of each meeting was to listen to each stakeholder’s priorities, needs, and goals for the future.

The stakeholder groups included representatives from the following organizations: Cary High School Cross Country Coach – Jerry Dotson; Columbia Development – Abbitt Goodwin and team ; Fit & Able – Alisa Wright Colopy and Travis Colopy; HS Event Management (Cross Country) – Patrick Helland; Kathy Klein & Bob Klein (5K organizer); Marty Thompson and Travis Thompson (property owner); NCDOT Planning Division; NCDOT Rail Division; NCFC – Steve Malik and Pete Sevandre; NCFC Youth – Bob Harris; NC State Cross Country – Chris Seaton, Couch; State Property Office – Joy Wayman; Trinity Soccer Academy – Sean O’Connor.

One stakeholder property owner declined to meet. A second property owner missed the meeting on Monday and staff will set up a meeting for additional conversations.

Next steps include processing stakeholder comments and identifying road alignment alternatives. These alternatives will be presented to the stakeholders in a second round of meetings for feedback.

Wake Transit Update

Wake Transit activities are ramping up this Spring, beginning with the launch of a new “Go Forward” initiative which provides a single source for updates on the Wake, Durham, and Orange County transit plans. The website and video tell the community investment story of the plans and the regional connectivity they will provide. Over the next 10 years, the plans will bring expanded bus service, five new bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors, 37 miles of commuter rail, 17.7 miles of light rail (Durham and Orange counties), and passenger amenities like enhanced bus stops and shelters to our area. In Wake County, this means transit stops within walking distance to 54% of homes and 80% of jobs. Stay tuned for details on how you can help shape Cary’s investment in transit during public engagement opportunities this Spring.

NE Maynard Grade Separation

Staff met Thursday with the NCDOT Rail Division to get an update on the planned railroad grade separation project at NE Maynard Rd and E Chatham St. NCDOT is currently working on project alternatives and is planning to kick-off public outreach this summer.

Citizens Explore Imagine Cary

On Wednesday, our School of Government class had the opportunity to dive deeper into the Town’s Imagine Cary Community Plan. After hearing from Russ Overton and Debra Grannan about the purpose of a visioning document for the Town, the attendees visited different booths to learn about each plan chapter. Staff from various departments were in attendance to provide background on the initiatives included in the plan. Later, the class prioritized the initiatives into short, medium and long term buckets. The group exercise gave a sense of the challenges faced by staff and elected officials in balancing competing priorities and weighing resources. Next week, the class will explore our development process!

Bloomberg Convenes Communications Professionals

Susan Moran attended the first-ever Communications Directors Convening, part of Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Initiative. The three-day conference was tailored to meet the distinct needs of the invitees’ organization and community. Topics included cutting edge listening, defining problems/increasing support, national debates/local action, digital strategies/ social communities, and storytelling. Sessions were facilitated by thought leaders from Harvard, the NY Times, Politico, Buzzfeed, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Savage Towing Case Update

Last February, the Council adopted new towing regulations designed to address public safety and welfare issues that were arising out of the non-consensual towing of motor vehicles from private parking lots. Savage Towing sued the Town alleging that the ordinance was beyond the Town’s authority to enact and was unconstitutional. Savage requested that the court temporarily block the ordinance from taking effect until their lawsuit was resolved. The trial court refused to block the ordinance from taking effect in May 2017, and Savage Towing appealed the trial court’s decision to the NC Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals heard the oral arguments of the Town’s attorney and Savage’s attorney earlier this month. This week the NC Court of Appeals dismissed Savage’s appeal. This decision by the Court of Appeals does not end the case. The case will now return to the trial court for a hearing and determination of whether the Town’s ordinance is lawful. We will provide updates as the case progresses.

CAMPO Executive Meeting

CAMPO’s Executive Board met on Monday and meeting highlights include:

  • FY2018-2027 Transportation Improvement Program Amendment was approved, which adds FY 2019 LAPP funding for the Town’s Downtown Multimodal Facility and Reedy Creek Rd. Projects.
  • Received information related to National Bike Month
  • Received an update on Wake Transit Implementation Plan, including public engagement and an overview of the FY19 recommended work plan.

The next meeting is scheduled for May 16 in Durham.

40th Annual Cary Road Race

The 40th Annual Cary Road Race was held in downtown Cary on Saturday. The 5-miler and 5k races saw a combined 1,100 runners registered, the highest participation in many years. We also had 131 enthusiastic participants for the 1-mile Fun Run.

It was a beautiful morning, with live music, food trucks, and a great race. Congratulations to Mayor Weinbrecht for completing the 5-mile race!

Pinwheel Garden Planted

Cary was well-represented at the Pinwheel Garden presentation at Cary First Baptist Church. The blue pinwheels serve as a visual representation to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect that occurs in our community. Attendees had the opportunity to plant a pinwheel while learning about protective factors and prevention.

Green Level West Rd. Widening

On Tuesday, we opened the four newly constructed lanes of Green Level West Rd. from Glenmore Rd/Capistrane Dr. to NC-540 ahead of the Fall 2018 estimated completion date. This project opens up a bottleneck for drivers traveling to and from the Triangle Expressway and is a gateway into the Green Level Destination Center. It also includes brick/landscaped median and sidewalks. Another aspect of the project included an important water line connection to further improve the water distribution network in this area. This is a great example of how interdepartmental collaboration is benefiting our citizens.

Chinese Community Outreach

Earlier this month, Police Captain Jerry McCormick traveled to China as a result of outreach to the Chinese community. As a result of leading safety talks around the region for the Chinese community, Jerry was asked to train students from the Beijing Royal School in China. The purpose was to help students that travel to the US and Europe for college be better prepared for the transition from a private school in China to another country.

Meeting with S.V. Temple

Two weeks ago staff met with representatives from the S.V. Temple to discuss the Nancy Jones House. Today, we sent the attached letter to the Temple representatives summarizing what we believe to be the points of consensus from the meeting.

Recognitions 

The pilot 311 space is shaping up nicely! Furniture is in, and starting next week, a team of five will work in the space part-time, continuing to serve Cary citizens. A huge thanks goes to staff in Public Works, IT, Finance and DSD for getting us where we are today and setting us up well for the future! Special recognition in particular to Brenda Mann, Brenda Adams, Kelli-LaFrance-Girard, Sierra Singler, Carolyn Roman, Gregory Jenkins, Scot Berry, Allison Hutchins and Dan Ault.

Earlier this week, a mother called PW Customer Service because her son’s Lightning McQueen toy rolled down the street and into a storm drain. Thanks to Michelle Nelson for listening and caring about the mother and her son and Karenga Snowden of PW for taking time out of his day to retrieve and return the toy. The mother remarked, “I can’t believe they did this for us. I will never live in a town greater than the Town of Cary!”

Emails From Citizens

Email from citizens this week included:

  • Thanks for the downtown farmers market
  • A request for what is coming up in downtown
  • A thanks for the new restaurants and businesses downtown
  • A request for a Western Wake bus route
  • A complaint about dogs off leash in downtown (Cary requires all dogs to be on a leash)

Next week will be slower than normal. Activities include staff meetings, a talk at Leadership Cary, a ribbon cutting, and receptions and dinners with a visiting sister city Irish delegation.

Get In Touch

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


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.

First time commenter? Please read our Comments Policy. Comments are at the discretion of the Publisher.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *