Cary, NC – This week consisted of meetings, ribbon cuttings, and other events.
Monday – The Hive
Monday I joined council members Robinson, Bush, Frantz, and Yerha for the ribbon cutting of the Hive. The Hive is a multipurpose space located in western Cary near McCrimmon Parkway and Yates Store Road. It offers activities for all ages ranging from arts enrichment to exercise and STEM programs. Birthday party packages are also available; however the space cannot be reserved for private functions. To find out more about the Hive go here.
At the ceremony I provided remarks along with council member Robinson before joining the other council members for the actual cutting of the ribbon. This is a great space and I believe this space will have an impact providing much needed parks, recreation, and cultural programming to west Cary.
Tuesday – Downtown Development
Tuesday I met with the town manager and staff members briefly to talk about downtown businesses.
On my way to my next meeting I dropped in to a meeting of a group of stakeholders discussing the potential mixed use development at Harrison Avenue and Chatham Street. The stakeholders included members of the First Baptist Church, Jordan Development, and the Town of Cary. This project has been in the works for years and would include retail, residential, and a parking deck. It is my hope that these great people can find a way to make it work.
My next meeting was with developers for a dense multi-family project at Green Level West Road and Pine Rail Lane. After hearing their arguments I let them know that I have reservations but will give it another long look.
My final meeting Tuesday was with an NC State student writing a paper on leadership. She asked about a dozen questions on the topic including leadership style. In case you are wondering I categorize my style as empowering.
Saturday – Cary Band Day
Saturday I attended the Hum Sub Youth Achievement Award Ceremony. This ceremony was to recognize youth that went above and beyond in the categories of volunteering, community service, leadership, research, academics and extra-curricular activities such as music, arts, and sports. Out of over 150 applicants only about a dozen where chosen. I provided brief remarks on leadership as well as Assistant Police Chief Quinlan. Then were presented the awards and posed for pictures. Hum Sub continues to be a great partner with Cary in bringing our community together with involvement. Thank you Hum Sub!
Saturday night I attended the 60th Cary Band Day competition. Although it was chilly I was able to watch several bands compete in the 4A, 5A, and 6A categories. What a treat. Afterwards I joined the Superintendent of Wake County Schools in presenting participation awards at the awards ceremony.
Sunday – Crabtree Creek Greenway
Sunday morning I received an email from the town manager about a hate issue. An individual made disparaging remarks at a local synagogue against the Jewish religion which may be interpreted as a threat. This is being taken very seriously by our police department and is being investigated. Cary is a diverse welcoming community and there is no place for hate in our society. Over 90% of our adults were not born in Cary. Almost 20 percent of our population is from another country representing 60 nationalities. We embrace our different cultures and religions and strongly believe that makes us a strong community.
Sunday I joined Morrisville Mayor Cawley, Morrisville council member Johnson, Wake County Commissioners Hutchinson and Portman, and council member Robinson in the Crabtree Creek Greenway Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:
“…This 1.7-mile scenic trail along the south shore of Lake Crabtree extends from Black Creek Greenway to Evans Road and includes a newly constructed 700-ft. boardwalk across the Black Creek arm of the lake.
This beautiful trail offers sweeping views across Lake Crabtree and serves as a great place for spotting wildlife such as great blue herons, osprey, turtles, and even bald eagles.
West of Evans Road the trail connects to Morrisville’s 1.4-mile segment that currently ends to Cedar Forks District Park. It will extend another 1.4 miles to Davis Drive after the railroad completes a new bridge over the creek that will accommodate the trail.
We owe a big debt of gratitude to many people who worked so hard to bring this project from the concept stage to where we are today. 80% of the $5.3 million project budget was provided by Federal highway funding allocated by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. In addition, Wake County provided a $500,000 grant as a 50/50 share of the remainder, as well as allowing us to construct the trail on Wake County property.
Our citizens love our parks and greenways and an important focus of Cary’s greenway system is connectivity. This trail joins over 80 miles of greenways, which already connect, or plan to connect to Wake, Durham and Chatham counties as well as Raleigh, Morrisville and Apex trails and greenways. If you haven’t already I encourage you to spend some time discovering our different parks and greenways. …”
After the ceremony I joined a greenway committee member on a walk of the new greenway. We passed several walkers and bikers on the way.
It was announced this week that in a new study by SmartAsset that Cary is the 4th most livable city, with populations over 100,000, in America. The criteria included income inequality, monthly housing costs, home values over the past five years, median household income, poverty and unemployment rates, percentage of residents without health insurance and commute times.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
Operation Medicine Drop Yields Impressive Totals
Cary participated in the National Pill Take Back event at five locations, and collection volume surpassed the weight of our spring Pill Take Back event by just over 168 pounds! Collectively, the five locations netted 888 pounds of unneeded medications that could have otherwise ended up in our wastewater system, landfills or been diverted for illicit use. Although Cary participates in the National Pill Take Back events each year, there is also a drop box in the Police Department lobby where citizens can come anytime during business hours to drop off unwanted medications. In fact, that drop box has collected 800 pounds of medications so far this year, bringing Cary’s total year to date collection to 2,407 pounds.
Adaptive Stormwater Modeling Presents Benefit
The stormwater modeling developed for the Walnut Creek Pilot Area in downtown has provided an holistic look at how the area reacts during a storm event. This comprehensive model dynamically depicts current conditions, identifies potential issues and allows us to assess a variety of approaches to managing the floodplain while leveraging it as an amenity.
A specific example is the S. Walker Street sidewalk project. Cedar Street between Academy and Walker experiences periodic ponding of stormwater. The model simulated existing conditions and helped staff identify a solution that mitigates the issue. As a result, the S. Walker Street project will include storm drain upgrades and will allow a phased approach, alleviating the ponding and eliminating the need for future upgrades on Walker that would compromise the sidewalk project.
5th Graders Learn About Water Cycle
During October and November, all fifth graders at West Lake Elementary School are getting an up-close look at water though an interactive lesson conducted by Cary staff. After building a model of the water distribution, wastewater collection and stormwater systems using Monopoly houses, plotter paper rolls, various straws, toy water towers and NC river basin maps, students tour the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. Students learn the difference between potable water, wastewater, reclaimed water and stormwater, as well as their responsibilities as citizens as they interact with each type of water. Walking to and through the South Plant, students observed firsthand how their wastewater is treated and returned to the environment for others downstream to use.
Stormwater Project Unveiled at Elementary School
On October 31, Don Frantz, Bill Fletcher, Wake County School Board, Greg Ford, Wake County Commissioner, and Cathy Moore, Wake County Schools superintendent, participated in a ribbon cutting for a stormwater management project at Kingswood Elementary School. The project was created in partnership with the Black Creek Watershed Association, a volunteer citizen group, NC State Water Resources Research Institute and the Town of Cary to improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation in the Black Creek Watershed. The green stormwater infrastructure project consists of two rain gardens and a cistern. The rain gardens collect, clean and slowly release stormwater from the school’s basketball court and sidewalks. The 2,100-gallon cistern captures rain from the media center roof which is then used by students to irrigate the vegetable beds and plants in the school’s greenhouse.
Rezoning Neighborhood Meeting
The next Rezoning Neighborhood Meeting will occur at Town Hall on November 7 at 6:30pm. These neighborhood meetings provide an opportunity for applicants to present information on new rezoning requests and receive feedback from nearby property owners prior to the formal public hearing. Staff will attend to provide general information regarding Cary’s rezoning process. The topic for Wednesday’s meeting will be the Green-Triangle Brick Assemblage (18-REZ-25).
This project comprises 82.45 acres located on the west side of Green Level Church Road, and the north side of Wake Road. The request is for annexation and rezoning from Wake County Residential 30 (R 30) to Residential 12 Conditional Use (R-12CU) and Watershed Protection Overlay District (Jordan Lake Sub-district), with zoning conditions that include limiting land use to detached residential with a maximum density of 1.63 dwelling units per acre.
Feel the Buzz
The Hive is now open! Council members cut the ribbon on a brand new, multipurpose space conveniently located in western Cary featuring recreation and arts programming catering for all ages. There won’t be any honey making here, just a sweet selection of dance, crafts, science, technology, fitness, wellness and other classes. A full array of activities is on the fall schedule.
Construction Beginning Monday
The bond-funded Intersection Improvements Project is moving forward with work beginning at Evans Road at NW Cary Parkway. Weather permitting, construction will begin on Monday, November 5 to improve the flow of traffic, as well as pedestrian and vehicular safety, at the intersection of NW Cary Parkway and Evans Road. To enhance operations and safety, improvements include the construction of a new right turn lane along southbound Evans Road and a new left turn lane along eastbound NW Cary Parkway.
The project has been moving through the challenges of private utility relocations. The consultant, Summit Design & Engineering Services, has been working directly with private utility representatives, providing essential communications and ensuring efforts are moving forward. Taking the time to ensure all utilities are relocated prior to construction will ultimately result in fewer impacts to the traveling public and business owners in the areas of construction.
Construction on the other intersections in this project, Cary Parkway at Kildaire Farm Road and Maynard Road at High House Road, should begin in the spring.
In addition to this road construction, work is also expected to begin on Monday on the Panther Creek Greenway and Mills Park Phase 2. This construction is estimated to be complete by the end of spring of 2020.
Apex Planning Efforts
Cary staff attended a Town of Apex open house for municipal partners to review and comment on their draft 2045 Advance Apex & Bike Apex plans. The Advance Apex process will result in an update to two plans, the Apex’s long-range transportation plan and an updated land use plan map. Bike Apex is an update to the Town’s bike plan and is funded through an NCDOT Bicycle & Pedestrian planning grant. Both plans are in their final stages with adoption by the Apex Town Council tentatively set for December. Learn more about both efforts online. This is a great example of how neighboring municipalities work together for the benefit of all of our citizens.
The Hortons Creek HOA invited staff to its annual meeting on October 30 to discuss their request for a Traffic Calming Program project on Hortons Creek Road. This traffic calming collaboration was inspired by neighborhood concerns related to the Amberly C-Store development plan and the resulting creation of the Concerned Citizens of Northwest Cary.
A multi-departmental team is working with a small group of residents to address concerns about speeding through the heart of the neighborhood. The team has identified where speeding is occurring, developed measures to improve pedestrian safety, brought awareness to the community about the issues and begun the process that will result in constructing devices to reduce speeding.
The meeting with the HOA was a great opportunity to update the larger community about our progress and discuss a preferred design for the project. Based on the street design of Hortons Creek Road and the desire within the community to maintain bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, staff recommends installing chicanes which will introduce deflection in the travel path for drivers, narrowing their travel lane and resulting in reduced travel speeds. A photo of a chicane is provided below.
While staff is still working through design details for this location, they are also keeping the community involved in the process and look forward to starting the next stages of this process.
Utility Rate Structure Conversation
After receiving a request from citizens who wanted to discuss our utility rate structure, staff from the Finance and Water Resources departments partnered together to examine the alternative rate structure being suggested. The first meeting with the group was held in August, and the final meeting occurred on October 22. Staff also developed an additional alternative for the discussions. Although neither of the alternatives is feasible at this time, the participants were appreciative of the thoroughness and time given to their ideas.
Flu Shots for Cary Employees
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that millions of people get the flu annually, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.
To help our employees and their families stay healthy, Cary partnered with WakeMed to host an on-site flu clinic. The clinic was a success, with over 20% of our employees attending the on-site flu clinic held at Town Hall and Public Works last week.
To support our employees at remote locations, WakeMed will bring the flu shot to each of our Fire Stations and all Town Water Facilities on Dec 5, 6 and 7.
Triangle Resiliency Partnership
Cary is demonstrating regional leadership by being a founding partner of the Triangle Regional Resiliency Partnership. This partnership is a multi-disciplinary convening of staff from the Town of Cary, the Town of Chapel Hill, the City and County of Durham, the City of Raleigh, and Orange County who are meeting with the objective of doing analysis and strategic assessments to build the foundations for working regionally to build resilience. Cross-functional teams from each jurisdiction have been meeting for over a year and are celebrating the first deliverable, a Resilience Assessment, which is a foundational document enabling future regional work, grant writing, and planning to build resiliency.
Resilient communities are defined by their ability to bounce back from acute disasters or long-term stressors by actively influencing and preparing for economic, social and environmental change. To better prepare for and adapt to these changing realities, the Triangle Regional Resilience Partnership (TRRP), in partnership with UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) and Triangle J Council of Governments, performed a quantified assessment to help regional decision makers understand which assets are most vulnerable to specific threats and provide guidance on potential solutions.
Staff Leads Discussion on ACE’s
Sam Trogdon, Senior Operations & Program Supervisor at Bond Park Community Center and Rachel Baranski, Performing Arts Education Specialist, co-presented “Resilience Over ACEs” (adverse childhood experiences) at the NC Recreation and Park Association’s annual conference.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events which have been shown to be strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan. By contrast, resilience, or the ability to thrive, adapt, and cope despite tough and stressful times, helps to mitigate negative effects of ACEs. Sam, Rachel, and Cary Police Detectives Armando Bake and Elizabeth Pearson are leading efforts of a Town-wide work team to build resilience among Town of Cary employees and our citizens at large.
After the presentation, Sam led a small group roundtable in thoughtful and engaging discussion with Parks & Rec staff from Alamance, Union, Haywood, and Cumberland counties.
IT Security Panel
On Tuesday, Terry Yates served on an IT security panel at the Gig East Seminar in Wilson that focused on bridging the knowledge gap around Blockchain technology. The panel discussed how Blockchain is an emerging technology that could improve traffic management, emergency response and public safety as well as allowing for data exchanges across the region to be verified and ordered such that data sharing and aggregation becomes simpler. WRAL TechWire featured the panel on its website.
Smart Cities Summit
On Wednesday, the 2018 Triangle Smart Cities Summit was held at the Raleigh Convention Center. Cary was well represented, and our smart and connected community efforts were featured in various areas of the event. Council Member Jennifer Robinson and Cary staff had great discussions about smart city technology and collaboration with other regional partner attendees. Other staff members served on a City Leader Panel that focused on how municipalities can effectively engage community members, moderated a panel around the Internet of Things (IoT) security and privacy best practices, and hosted an exhibition booth that showcased Cary’s smart city technology, living lab and long-term roadmap.
Best Workplace for Commuters
The Town of Cary was honored for its exemplary commitment to sustainable travel in the Triangle, and was named a “Best Workplace for Commuters” at the annual Golden Modes awards ceremony. This event recognizes companies, organizations and people who best use their resources to influence others to pursue smart commuting options. Ultimately, they reduce the number of people who drive alone, reducing traffic congestion, alleviating air pollution and improving our overall quality of life.
Certificate of Excellence
The NC Department of Aging and Adult Services awarded a Certificate of Excellence to the Cary Senior Center. This award is the highest honor the state gives to senior centers. This will be the third time the senior center has received this five-year certification. Congratulations to Senior Center staff and volunteers for all their hard work.
First Tower Rescue Class Certified
Congratulations to firefighters who completed the first ever Tower Rescue class in Cary. Staff spent three days perfecting the skills needed to conduct high angle rescues from assorted telecommunication and water towers across Cary. This class is part of a bigger endeavor to help ensure that the town has trained staff to support the ongoing work to infrastructure in and around Cary. Under the direction of Fire Chief Jason Dean from Clayton (a former Cary firefighter), the team gained certification through the National Association of Tower Erectors. I want to thank them again for their commitment and hard work to make Cary even safer for its citizens.
Emails from Staff
Emails from staff this week included information on the approved Lidl on North Harrison:
“In speaking with staff, this project is in the final stage of development site plan approval. The applicant has identified the project as “Grande Heights Grocery Store” although Lidl is still the proposed occupant. Thus, to the best of our knowledge, Lidl is still coming to the N. Harrison Ave. area. To date, a building permit application has not been submitted and no one has contacted our building permitting staff about the project.”
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens included:
- A complaint about not being able to view public access station on cable (staff contacted Spectrum and they are looking into this)
- A request for internship (there are many rules and regulations that make it difficult to do this but staff is looking into this)
- A concern from a senior citizen about what will happen to the pharmacy in a Kroger now that Harris Teeter has bought them out. He wanted to know why the move to Harris Teeter is taking so long. The store manager said Cary permitting was holding them up. (staff looked into this and there has been no permit requested so the information provided to the citizen by the store manager was false)
- A complaint about not enough GoCary routes for seniors at the Carolina Preserve (all citizens over 60 or with disabilities can get door to door service with GoCary anywhere in Cary)
- A complaint about park maintenance (staff responded and addressed questions but that was unsatisfactory to the citizen with the complaint)
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a quarterly meeting, a taping of Cary Matters, a Ted Abernathy talk, the Parkside Commons tree lighting, and a Veterans Day ceremony.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 11th. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecth. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.