Cary, NC – This week I joined council members, staff, and dozens of business leaders in an inter-city visit to the Dallas, Fort Worth area. Our visit included Irving, Fort Worth, and Frisco.
Wednesday – Dallas and Irving
Wednesday began with a trip to Klyde Warren Park built over a freeway in Dallas. This was designed by OJB who is designing our downtown park. It was great to experience firsthand a park that OJB had designed and to see some of the park’s rooms and especially the kid’s play area.
Next we had a tour of the Irving-Las Colinas area. Irving, with a population of a quarter of a million, is mostly non-residential while Cary is mostly residential. Most of their non-residential was office which made most of the city look like an office park. I had the opportunity to meet with the Mayor Rick Stopfer who was kind enough to talk to me and pose for a picture. He told me he has been mayor about a year and a half and has a stable council with very little turnover. That is important since a stable council gives confidence to developers and investors on the direction Irving is headed. One of their biggest problems is attracting retail especially grocery stores (if we could only give them some of ours).
Lunch was held at the La Cima club, a restaurant at the top of a high rise, which allowed us to view the surrounding area for miles. During that time we had a panel discussion with Chamber members and key executives from Citibank, Microsoft, Caterpillar, Flow Serve, and others. We learned what attracted their business to that area. Not surprisingly, it is similar to Cary: a diverse, educated work force, location to airports, and a business climate that is friendly.
After lunch we explored a nearby development that included larger than life granite sculptures of horses. This particular developer had built many of the buildings in Irving spent a lot of money on over-the-top decorative things which eventually led to his bankruptcy.
Our last stop of the day was the Toyota Music Factory development in Irving. This was a small work and shop area that included an indoor/outdoor entertainment venue which holds about 8,000 people. While that development was interesting it was not that impressive to me. BTW, Booth Amphitheater holds about 7,000 when maxed out and is much more attractive.
Dinner was held in Fort Worth where we met former Wake County Manager David Cooke who now is the city manager of Fort Worth. It was a great day full of information.
Thursday – Fort Worth
Thursday started with a trip to Sundance Square in Fort Worth which is a public area that is privately owned. This area is programmed with many events and included a stage, a water feature, and shaded seating. It was ringed by restaurants and businesses. Spaces like this draw people to the area and this type of space is something that Cary can incorporate in the future.
After talking with the Sundance Square owner were greeted by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price who was kind enough to spend a few minutes with us. She spoke about the importance of public private partnerships and how it allowed them to build spaces like the Sundance Square. After speaking I presented her with a small gift and then had a picture made of the two of us.
Next was a tour of Fort Worth which ended at Dickies Arena. This arena is under construction and will eventually hold about 12,000 people. Its main focus is rodeo but will hold NCAA basketball games, concerts, etc.
Before dinner a reception, sponsored by another Cary business, was held at the Fort Worth water gardens. Words can’t describe how amazing this place was. Check it out at https://www.fortworth.com/listings/fort-worth-water-gardens/2989/.
Dinner, sponsored by a Cary business, was held at Joe T Garcia’s in Fort Worth. This restaurant has been opened since 1935 and the food was delicious. It had outdoor seating for several hundred. The outside area had many gardens, fountains, and plaza areas. What a great venue.
Friday – Frisco
Friday was spent in Frisco which has a population of about 180,000. Out of the three cities we visited this one resembled Cary the most. It currently holds the Money Magazine number one ranking as best place to live.
We started by touring the Ford Center which is the Dallas Cowboys football team and cheerleader’s training facility. We even got to see quarterback Dak Prescott in the weight room. This was an amazing facility and if you like the Dallas Cowboys being there must be like heaven. While I have never been a Cowboys fan I did appreciate the grandiosity of the facility.
Next we headed to Toyota Stadium in Frisco for lunch. This stadium seated about 20,000 and was the home to the MLS soccer team Dallas FC. The lunch included a panel discussion with the Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem, Fire Chief, other staff, and an executive from the PGA of America. I had the chance to briefly talk with the Frisco Mayor Jeff Chaney before he departed. I presented him with a gift and then we posed for a picture.
The panelists initially focused on the school system and how they used technology in the schools. For example, all schools have multiple live cameras. They also talked about their downtown redevelopment, which is behind Cary’s. The PGA representative talked about why they chose Frisco. Part of it had to do with its location in the Dallas metro area which has about 7 million people. I asked if he would have chosen Frisco if it were not in the metro area and he said no. This is similar to the feedback we received when the United States Tennis Association’s chose Orlando over Cary for its training facility. That is, they chose Orlando because of the metro area. Much of the discussion with the panel reinforced what Cary is currently doing which is comforting. We’ll see who number one is next year.
The trip was very informative. Texas is a home rule state which means that municipalities have much more leeway than municipalities in North Carolina. I had to keep reminding myself of that when we saw some of the amazing things done in each city. Also, there is a LOT of money in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Philanthropists, like Jerry Jones, give a ton of money to these communities which really help in the public private partnerships.
While some of the cities we visited were out of scale with Cary there were things that could be learned. With an experienced council it is important to have these trips to generate new ideas. Thanks to the Cary Chamber for providing this trip and including the Cary Council.
The North Carolina metro mayors met Friday morning. The following is a summary from the executive director:
Two major areas of state responsibility continue to dominate debate and work – healthcare and education policy. Budget work plows ahead with House Appropriations Subcommittees meeting regularly.
The Senate bill filing deadline was this week, so a large number of bills were filed. We will continue to sift through recently filed bills to determine any impacts on cities. The House deadline will be coming up later this month.
No major activity in the General Assembly on transportation.
NC FIRST Commission – NCDOT Secretary Trogdon has appointed a commission to evaluate North Carolina’s current and future transportation investments. Representing municipalities on the 14-member commission is past Metro Mayor Chair, Mayor Nancy McFarlane from Raleigh, along with Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt and Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly. Other members represent experts and business leaders from construction, energy and healthcare as well as the Community College system, the Rural Center and two noted economists. The first meeting will take place May 3. It is expected to be a two-year process.
Twitter Handle: @invest_nc
Local Revenues/ Local Control
- S650 Simplifying NC Local Sales Tax Distribution
- Filed this week
- Includes a shift in the balance of a portion of the sales tax to a 50/50 per capita/point of destination distribution from the current 25/75 split
- Also repeals adjustment factors
- We are in a research and data gathering phase on this bill and perhaps host special informational materials and conference calls for MMC members
- Need to work closely with NCLM to make sure we are analyzing and looking at the same numbers/impacts and work to have a joint approach, as possible.
- H570 Water/Wastewater Public Enterprise Reform
- Creates a grant program for distressed water/sewer systems by adding a $1 monthly surcharge on both the monthly water and wastewater bills for each rate payer
- Applies to both commercial and household accounts
- Encourages merging systems
- S534 Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws
- Relaxes billboard restrictions
- Much of the language is very similar to the 2017 legislation – H581
- H581 is the bill that was pushed last year in the House (failed on the floor); many of the members that led the charge to kill are no longer in GA, so will need to give this attention
- Please review to determine impact, MMC is assessing the impetus and viability of the bill
- S367 Clarify Property Owner’s Rights
- Tree ordinance bill
- Appears to grandfather-in/exempt many cities, but we are looking into this more
- Still in discussion with bill sponsors to understand motivation
Nothing new to report
Nothing new to report
Questions and Comments
Status ABC privatization
- Does not appear to have legs at this point
- There are robust conversations about legislation related to Sunday sales and tastings that could have movement
- Does not appear that a consensus has been reached on requiring county-level consolidation
- There should not be any negative impact to cities. If so, they would be unintended since bill sponsors are “friends of municipalities.”
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
The much-awaited sale of the 92-acre State property along Cary Towne Boulevard for the Fenton closed on April 2. The Fenton property was subdivided from the larger parcel, deeds were recorded, and years of work paid off for all involved. As noted in last week’s email, development can soon begin to move forward, starting with clearing and grading.
Happy Birthday, TOC!
Cary celebrated its 148th birthday on Wednesday, April 3. Staff celebrated with cake throughout the afternoon.
Cary Tennis Park hosted a Wheelchair Open House last Saturday in the covered courts. The event had a great turnout with more than 15 wheelchair players in attendance. A handful of players, some of whom had never tried wheelchair tennis before, were from the local area. The remaining players were from Adaptive Sports and Adventures (A.S.A.P) in Charlotte. Also on hand for the event was Mayor Weinbrecht who took a turn playing wheelchair tennis with the participants.
Rehabilitation specialists were on site to help players transition from street wheelchairs into sport wheelchairs. The Open House was sponsored by Town of Cary, Western Wake Tennis Association, Raleigh Tennis Association and USTA North Carolina. Weekly wheelchair clinics will be offered at Cary Tennis Park beginning April 13th.
Water Pressure Increase
The next pressure zone shift is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9. Approximately 1,200 homes in and just north of the Preston Village and Heritage Pines neighborhoods will experience a pressure increase of 45 psi. The Cary Tennis Park, Green Hope High and Green Hope Elementary will also be included and are prepared for the change. This work is part of Cary’s water system management strategy to ensure a more resilient and reliable water system.
Citizens have been notified of the pressure zone change with letters, public meetings, Nextdoor, HOA communications, and integrated voice response messages. Staff also completed more than 850 pressure checks as requested by citizens. Of the previous five pressure zone changes, this was the highest percentage of pressure checks conducted. Staff will be stationed throughout the neighborhoods Tuesday morning monitoring the operation and being available to answer citizen questions.
Project Phoenix Garden
We’re excited to announce our very first Project Phoenix Community Garden. Collaboration between Good Hope Farm, Project Phoenix, Spruce, the Police Department, and a local church has turned this vacant overgrown paved lot into a thriving vegetable garden and pollinator sanctuary site for the residents of Merriwood Apartments. This pilot project’s goals are to create a low-cost garden space for a demographic of our Cary community that statistically lacks access to healthy foods and outdoor recreation. The project will continue through 2019 with gardening and nutrition education at the site while we connect general community resources to the project to ensure a self-sustaining project. There will be a grand opening event on April 11 at 5:30 p.m.
Pinwheels for Prevention
On Thursday, the police department, in partnership with Wake County Child Protective Services and Cary First Baptist Church, presented a “Pinwheels for Prevention” event in observance of April as National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention month. The capstone of the event was the address by keynote speaker Paige Rosemand, Director of Child Welfare for Wake County. Mrs. Rosemand’s address highlighted the five Protective Factors to Prevent Child Abuse. The pinwheel garden was placed by attendees to illustrate the effort to focus on community activities that support families and public policies that prioritize prevention. A very special thank you to the event’s coordinator, Detective Armando Bake, and event partners, Pastor Pat Kilby with Cary First Baptist Church and Kristie Demers with Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.
Training for Emergencies
This week the Cary Fire Department participated in a large-scale, multi-agency flood exercise in Morganton, North Carolina. This exercise took place from Saturday March 30th to Wednesday April 3rd with day and night operational periods. The drill incorporated 23 teams from 10 different countries including Canada, Chile and Mexico, 50 boat teams and approximately 400 rescuers. We beta-tested new technology that included dynamic deployment for resources and live time data sampling that recorded rescuer actions from type of action, rescue or need. The fire department sent teams for three days that received and carried out missions on the Upper Catawba River, Johns River and Lake James.
On April 3, members of the police department’s Command Staff attended a presentation of the Anti-defamation League’s “Shield Award” to the North Carolina Community Outreach Group (NCCOG) at the Islamic Association of Raleigh. The NCCOG is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and leaders from the Muslim community across North Carolina with a mission of promoting stronger neighborhoods and safer communities. The Shield Award recognizes significant contributions in law enforcement toward protecting our communities from hate crimes, extremism, and domestic and international terrorism, and honors programs and initiatives that advance police and community relationships. The event brought together federal, state, and local law enforcement leaders from North Carolina and the state’s Muslim leadership to share in the recognition and celebrate the partnership during a formal dinner hosted by the Islamic Association of Raleigh.
Parks and Greenway Projects Moving Forward
Spring brings the start of new construction projects in Cary parks and greenways.
- Crowder Construction started work on the long-awaited MacArthur to Davis Drive section of White Oak Creek Greenway. They will be clearing the corridor in the next few weeks and constructing a temporary crossing over the CSX tracks to access the area on the east side of the tracks from Davis Drive Park, reducing disturbance to neighbors closer to MacArthur Drive.
- White Oak Creek Trailhead and the Middle Creek Slope Repair projects started construction at the end of February and are expected to be completed by mid-November. At White Oak, clearing and grading are complete, and utilities are being installed for future restroom buildings. At Middle Creek, the silt fencing has been installed.
- Improvements are in process at the Bond Park waterfront to enhance the small boat facilities in the beach area, provide an accessible route to the beach launch area and the fishing boardwalk, and reduce erosion along the shore near the gazebo. The contractor has constructed a new double-level boat rack and is working on new boardwalks on both sides of the existing gazebo. Existing concrete walks will be renovated to meet ADA standards.
Renovations are underway at the Cary Senior Center to remove accessibility barriers identified in Cary’s ADA Transition Plan. Prior to bidding the project, staff coordinated with Public Works and IT to temporarily relocate offices to the ballroom. The resulting shutdown of the administration and education areas will reduce construction time and avoid the inconvenience of noise, dust and altered access. The facility was built in 2002 and staff is taking advantage of this time to coordinate other maintenance repairs and upgrade the data lines in the office and computer classroom areas. Renovations in the administration area are more extensive so staff, consultants, and the general contractor are working together to complete construction and reopen the education area before project completion scheduled for June.
Night of Service
Our Specialized Recreation families paid it forward by collecting 135 books for the Read and Feed program at their “Night of Giving & Service” social. Our participants also created 65 thank you cards that will be given to the volunteers who help facilitate the program. Read and Feed serves over 600 students in Wake County by providing a healthy meal and helping children improve their literacy skills.
As part of the adult nature day trip series at Hemlock Bluffs, citizens visited the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in Moore County. The group had great weather, lots of birds, early flowers and fox squirrels. A special treat was seeing (and hearing) the federally-endangered, red-cockaded woodpecker, one of the rarest birds in North America. The next field trip destination is the Blue Ridge Parkway in May.
Cary’s nationally-recognized leadership in planning and delivering water services to our citizens was recognized at the 2019 Sustainable Water Management Conference in Tucson on April 1-2. The conference is sponsored by the American Water Works Association. Water Resources Manager Jeff Adkins presented an overview of Cary’s efforts to protect water quality and ensure the continued provision of high-quality, sufficient and affordable water supplies for today as well as to support future growth. Along with utility managers from Tucson, Silicon Valley and southern California, Jeff and Triangle J Council of Governments Water Resources Planner Jen Schmitz represented Cary and the Triangle region in a panel discussion and answering audience questions about the future of integrated water resources planning.
Advisory Board Meetings
Tues, 4/9, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Rm 10035
Wed, 4/10, 6:30pm
Town Hall Conf Rm 10035
Emails from Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included:
- A concern about an Airbnb in the Walnut Hills area (This is usually regulated by covenants. While staff is looking into this the town may not have authority)
- Questions about the GoCary bus route on Weston Parkway (Staff will respond to these questions)
- Support for the Hotel in Weston (This project is currently tabled).
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting with the Executive Director of Economic Partnerships, a meeting to discuss performing in this year’s Diwali, a meeting with NCDOT to talk about STIP (State Transportation Improvement Program), the Fire Department Recruitment graduation, and the opening of the downtown farmers market.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 14th. 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 Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.