Cary

Harold’s Blog: State Legislature, Bus Plan and More

Cary, NC – This week was a little lighter than expected due to a couple of cancelled meetings.

Monday – State Legislature Reception

Monday, council members and staff held a reception for the Cary delegation of the North Carolina legislature. Legislative attendees included Gale Adcock, Cynthia Ball, Julie von Haefen, Allison Dahle, Wiley Nickle, Robert Reives, Sydney Batch, and Jay Chaudhuri. Also in attendance were our legislative lobbyists.

After about an hour I gave remarks to the group. In the past I made a formal presentation of our legislative agenda. This time I talked with them about the importance of creating relationships and trust. And that we needed their help and that will be glad to do the same. Most people don’t realize that during session some bills are brought up so fast that they have very little time if any to review them. The phrase “drinking from a fire hose” comes to mind. Anyway, those are the times where we can help our legislators. I believe the legislative delegation representing us will do a great job representing Cary. The reception lasted a little over two hours.

Cary Mayor

Legislative reception: L to R: Jennifer Robinson, Jay Chauduri, Gale Adcock

Tuesday – Weston Hotel Project

Tuesday I met with North Carolina Senator Floyd McKissick and his son. They were representing an applicant for a rezoning that would allow a hotel at Weston Parkway, Winstead Drive, and Old Reedy Creek Road. It should be noted that Weston Office Park has approximately 20 acres of developable land left out of about 900 acres.

The proposal, if approved, would allow the maximum height of the building to be 90 feet instead of 50 feet. This is significant in the Weston PDD because it might trigger development/redevelopment of structures with more height. Nearby neighbors complained about the proposed hotel height and the traffic. They stated that a balloon test, to demonstrate the ultimate height, was invalid because of all the deciduous trees in the buffer of the property. While this is true, most of the building will still not be visible in the winter. The traffic is an issue and will continue to be an issue.

Weston Parkway, which is a Cary road, is at ultimate buildout. The council has the authority to determine the type of development but it doesn’t have authority to prevent development. So if the hotel is denied it could become one of dozens of other things without any council decision. The Planning and Zoning board reviewed and approved this proposal unanimously. Staff is recommending approval after initially having a lot of issues with the height and the potential precedent it could set.

The purpose of my meeting with Senator McKissick was for him to hear of additional concerns. I talked about mostly about the height of the structure and buffers which were concerns of nearby neighbors. We also talked about other details of the project. I also told them that, as always, I hold my decision until all evidence has been presented. The vote on this proposal is scheduled for January 24th.

Wednesday – Wake Bus Plan

Wednesday I chaired the first meeting of the year of CAMPO’s (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) Executive Board. On the agenda were two public hearings and seven discussion items. Items of note included my re-election as chairman for another year and the Wake Bus Plan which will triple bus service within the next ten years. Our meeting concluded after an hour and a half.

This week I received the link to a podcast that I did on GovGab radio in December. It is a 37 minute long question and answer session.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Dreamfest Kickoff

Cary’s annual MLK, Jr. Dreamfest celebration got underway Friday with an Affordable Housing Symposium. After a welcome by Mayor Pro Tem Lori Bush and remarks by Congressman David Price, a panel discussed the scope of the affordable housing issue, obstacles and possible solutions. Other panelists included County Commissioners Sig Hutchinson, Matt Calabria and Jessica Holmes. Alicia Arnold, Director of Housing for Wake County also participated. Cassie Shumacher-Georgopoulous, Cary’s Assistant Development Director joined Greg Warren of DHIC, Erica Brand with Habitat for Humanity and Rev. Charles Tyner of White Oak Missionary Baptist Church in a second panel discussion on implementing creative solutions.

Dreamfest activities continue throughout the weekend with children’s programs, film screenings and a celebration concert. Dreamfest culminates in a day of service on Monday, January 21.

Legislative Reception

We had great turnout at the Legislative Reception on Monday. Many thanks to the Council and our delegation for dedicating time to build relationships. Staff will follow up with individual legislators after the long session begins.

Cary Parkway Tree Removal

Tree removal along Cary Parkway is set to begin the week of January 21 to improve the line of sight approaching a new traffic signal at Westhigh Street. Approximately 40 cedar trees along the edge of the sidewalk will be removed. These trees are not part of a natural wooded buffer and do not provide benefits to the water quality of the nearby stream. The work will likely involve closing the outside southbound lane from just before W Chatham Street to Westhigh Street. It is expected to take one day to complete.

Fire Department Provides Regional Assistance

On Friday, January 11, the Fire Department received a request to provide assistance at a large warehouse fire in Bunn. Cary provided the 5-person Engine 2 Company to work for a 6 hour operational period from 3 to 9 pm. Engine 2 Company was tasked with keeping fire from spreading to a grass field behind the building. They also used their water to cool a piece of heavy equipment after it spent time moving burning debris. This was a regional fire-fighting effort, and our crew was relieved by a crew from Louisburg. Due to the advanced stage of the fire and the structural instability of the building by the time our crew arrived, Cary firefighters did not do any interior firefighting.

NCDOT Draft STIP Released

NCDOT’s transportation plan, the State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, identifies the construction funding and schedule for transportation projects over a 10-year period. NCDOT updates the STIP approximately every two years to reflect the state’s current financial situation. The data-driven process to update the STIP is called Strategic Prioritization. The current cycle to update the STIP for the years 2020-2029 (Prioritization 5.0, or P5.0) started in summer 2017. At that time, NCDOT divisions and local planning organizations gathered public feedback on projects, which then were submitted for evaluation and scoring.

NCDOT released the draft STIP on January 10, 2019. The draft STIP includes 1,663 projects statewide, across all modes, and includes approximately 500 changes from the previously approved STIP. Several projects have been removed or delayed due to significantly-reduced funding projections. Draft changes to projects in Cary include:

Delayed Projects:

  • I-440/US1/US64 (I-5701/I-5703): ROW delayed from FY2020 to FY2023, construction delayed from 2022 to 2023
  • US64 Corridor Project from Laura Duncan Rd to US1 (U-5301): ROW delayed from FY2020 to FY2021, construction delayed from 2022 to 2024

New Project:

  • Holly Springs Rd from Cary Pkwy to Ten Ten Rd / Intersection improvements at Ten Ten and Penny Rd (U-6217): ROW in FY2025, construction in FY2027

Accelerated Project:

  • Trinity Rd Grade Separation at NCRR/CSX/NS rail line (P-5734): ROW acquisition beginning in 2025

Removed Project:

  • Swift Creek Greenway from Lake Pine Rd to Koka Booth Amphitheater (EB5893): ROW previously in FY2023 with construction in 2025 – No longer programmed

The draft 2020-2029 STIP will be approved in summer 2019. Staff will work with CAMPO to discuss project changes and strategy for submitting new projects for the next STIP through the Prioritization 6.0 process, which will also begin in the summer.

Baseball Field Upgrade

Cary owns and operates five full-size baseball fields (Bond Park Field 5 and four fields at USA Baseball National Training Complex). Bond Park is used mostly for recreation leagues as it has a dirt infield. Over the winter, staff removed the infield clay and installed the base and sod for a grass infield. This will be a noticeable improvement for the local youth teams as well as making it more marketable for rental groups such as Senior Adult Baseball. The Cary and western Wake County adult teams have been using USA Baseball when available but otherwise traveling distances for “Home” games. With this improvement, they will be able to play more home games in their own back yard. Kudos to Ken George for collaboration with staff on the idea and kudos to PW staff for constructing a diamond masterpiece.

Cary Mayor

Baseball field to be converted at Bond Park

Learning More About ACEs 

Staff and council members Jennifer Robinson and Ken George joined over 200 communities, nonprofit, government, education, and business leaders at From Awareness to Action, an event/training focused on building a more resilient Wake County through the trauma-informed approach. Becky Haas, Trauma-informed Administrator for Ballad Health (and formerly the ACEs Educator and System of Care Developer for the Johnson City, TN Police Department), shared her experience in local government as she and others helped build a “community of care” in Johnson City. Event attendees enjoyed discussion and training on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), the prevalence of trauma, and trauma’s impact on the brain; key principles to consider when building a trauma-informed “community of care”; and the need for trauma-informed care to be included in all frontline services to mitigate the effects of ACEs and create a resilient and thriving community.

Packing Up the Lanterns

The Chinese Lantern Festival ended its six-week run at Koka Booth Amphitheatre this week. The beautiful lanterns are being dismantled, some with the assistance of a crane. Attendance for this fourth festival broke records with 102,851 visitors coming through the gates. That is 18,000 more than last year and 10,000 more than two years ago. The fifth festival will return to the Amphitheatre in November for what is sure to be another spectacular showcase.

Cary Mayor

Chinese Lantern Festival being packed up

Map of Town-Owned Property

With input from department directors and the manager’s office, Transportation and Facilities staff created a map that provides a comprehensive look at all properties owned by the Town of Cary. Detailed data such as land and building values, acreage, usage, flood plain location, and parks and greenway information can be displayed for each property.

Fire Chief Serves on Assessment Team

Fire Chief Mike Cooper served as a member of a peer assessment team for the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) this week at the Royal Air Force Mildenhall (RAFM) in Suffolk, England. CPSE promotes and awards accreditation to fire and emergency services throughout the world that have met or exceeded the performance indicators in the accreditation model.

2019 Employee Rap Sessions Begin

First-timers joined regular attenders for a great kickoff to the 2019 Employee Rap Sessions for in-depth discussion on Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Appreciation. One of the goals of these rap sessions is for employees to get to know each other. The importance of communicating and getting an issue on the table with colleagues when a situation or comment feels offensive was highlighted. When those conversations take place in the moment, even when it’s a little uncomfortable, relationships are built, making the organization more resilient when faced with more severe challenges. Or, as Deanna Hawkes put it, “It’s important to build relationships before you need them.”

Emails From Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Complaints about the proposed hotel on Weston Parkway (Council will vote on this item at our January 24th meeting).
  • Request for help with a Visa issue (This is a federal issue and we provided contact information to congressional leaders representing Cary).
  • Request to speak against a Morrisville rezoning (Speaking publically to another governing body telling them how to vote usually has the opposite effect. I contacted the Morrisville Mayor and let him know our citizen’s concerns).
  • Kudos for programming at the Cary Theater.

Next week will be busy for me. Activities include a Mayors Association Meeting, staff meetings, The State of Cary Address at the chamber breakfast, the Lazy Daze Grant reception, and a regularly scheduled council meeting.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 27th.  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 and Hal Goodtree.

8 replies
  1. Jackie Kilberg
    Jackie Kilberg says:

    After meeting with the team seeking input on Route 5 on two occasions, it is unfortunate that the decision was made not to extend the route down Kildaire farm Road, past Ten-Ten to Holly Springs. If that can’t be done, why have the Route at all.

    Reply
  2. George McDowell
    George McDowell says:

    In Cary Parkway Tree Removal, Mr Stegall wrote:

    “Approximately 40 cedar trees along the edge of the sidewalk will be removed. These trees are not part of a natural wooded buffer and do not provide benefits to the water quality of the nearby stream.”

    Sir: Am not sure what the first part of the second sentence means, but as to the second part, EVERY healthy tree upland from a stream absorbs some volume of rainwater, keeping that water from joining up with the gathering torrent that often ends in flooding at places in Town. Those trees’ roots in the ground also make the surrounding soil more conducive to the absorption of rainfall, further lessening stormwater runoff. And the trees not only absorb water, they absorb the particulate pollution the raindrops knock out of the sky as well as the pollutants that have found their ways to the ground.

    It’s clear the Town must make concessions to drivers who travel much faster than 45 mph on the Speedway, and must cut down trees to make the red light visible sooner to them, but it would be nice if this Tree City USA were to plant 40 cedar trees in other places to replace our sacrificed friends.

    Reply
  3. Len Nieman
    Len Nieman says:

    If Wake County plans to triple bus service over the next 10 years, why is GoCary planning major cuts in service? Changes that will have major impacts on those who depend on GoCary. Particularly seniors, who depend on it for shopping, if the plan to stop entering shopping center, e.g., Wal-Mart, Maynard Crossing, Cary Towne Center, parking lots is implemented.
    https://gocary.org/news/proposed-gocary-major-service-changes

    It’s said these changes are needed because ridership on GoCary has decreased since 2014. Which is strange, because the budget requests for C-Tran up through 2013 show ridership increasing every year. If I believed ‘correlation equals causation’, I’d say maybe changing the name from C-Tran to GoCary was a mistake. But I doubt that’s the real problem. What I don’t see being addressed by the proposed ‘Major Service Changes’ plan are why has ridership gone down, and what can be done to get it back up again? I would like to see answers to those questions before any ‘Major Service Changes’ are implemented.

    Reply
    • Mark Neill
      Mark Neill says:

      Major cuts?

      Statistics say that the 1/2 lines are ridden by just a fraction the number of people that ride any other line in town. There is no shopping center on the Maynard Loop that will not be services by at least one line in the new realignment. The realigned 3 is now a direct run up and down Harrison. The new 7 picks up Park West, which wasn’t previously accessible on GoCary, and the GoTriangle 310 runs out 54 as well. The 5 still explicitly runs through the shopping center with Walmart and Harris Teeter.

      I still think it’s weird that there is no Cary Parkway loop, but the planned recommendations in that plan are hardly “major cuts”, and they make up for those cuts by adding the most significant new retail area in the last 5 years that’s inside the Cary Parkway loop. Frankly, the most annoying part of it is that my kids can’t ride the bus directly homeward from Cary High around Maynard any more, they’ll have to go into and transfer at the Transportation Center.

      Reply
      • Len Nieman
        Len Nieman says:

        For those who depend on it, eliminating service on half of Maynard loop is a major cut, as is eliminating service on Dillard Drive that many currently use to get to work and to the Wake County School office.

        Reply
    • Jackie Kilberg
      Jackie Kilberg says:

      Extending GoCary 5 to Holly Springs Rd and TenTen via Kildare Farm Rd. could lessen the bumper to bumper traffic on Holly Springs Rd. to I-40 during rush hour. An express bus from that area directly to Downtown Cary (in order to take the train into Raleigh) should be considered.

      Reply

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