Harold’s Blog: Highway Expansion, Maynard Water Tower and More

Cary, NC – This week was my last week before a family vacation.

Monday – Wake County Mayors

Monday I met with the Wake County Mayors in Garner. All mayors were in attendance except the Mayors of Apex, Knightdale, Raleigh, and Wendell. The meeting included a presentation about the upcoming census from a non-profit NC Counts Coalition and from a Wake County Planner. Residents will be invited to respond to the census starting mid-March 2020 either by internet, telephone, or paper.

Census data has a huge impact on funding towards housing, education, transportation, human services, and health. The census determines the number of seats in the House of Representatives, electoral votes, redistricting, federal assistance to state and local governments, and the need for and location of community services. The Mayors Association concluded after about an hour and a half.

Tuesday – Highway 54

Tuesday the Cary and Morrisville councils held a joint meeting to further relationships and to discuss projects including Highway 54 widening. All council members were present except Cary’s Robinson, Morrisville’s Rao, and Morrisville’s Scroggins-Johnson. There were also town managers and key staff members from both municipalities at the meeting. Most of the meeting was spent discussing the Highway 54 widening. This project would require funding by CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) but currently is not on the STIP (State Transportation Improvements Program) which is a 10 year plan for project funding. The STIP is updated every two years and that update is occurring now.

Based on what has been submitted the Highway 54 project is not above the funding line for the 10 year plan which means it will have to wait 2 years to be considered again. So Cary and Morrisville will be working to get this project funded in the next review of the STIP. After the Highway 54 discussion the councils discussed future meeting formats and meeting schedules. The next meeting is scheduled in June and follow-up meetings will be scheduled in the next few weeks. Our meeting adjourned after a little over two hours.

Wednesday – Transportation Funding

Wednesday I chaired the monthly meeting of CAMPO’s (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) Executive Board. The agenda included six items for discussion. Of particular importance to Cary was the Federal Rescission Update. Federal funds are made available to CAMPO to distribute among the municipalities. The CAMPO executive board prioritizes the funding. If the funding awarded to projects is not used then it is susceptible to a federal rescission. The funding problem occurs when municipalities commit to spending the funding in the allotted time but for some reason cannot meet the time line. This could be from estimating incorrectly or knowingly requesting funding for projects that cannot meet the timeline.

To solve the problem of rescission the CAMPO executive board decided to award more money to existing committed projects. This was good news for Cary especially the White Oak Greenway project which received more money. The resulting saving was over a million dollars. Additionally, the Crabtree Creek Greenway to Bond Park to High House project was moved forward with earlier funding. In other actions the board approved a minor amendment to the STIP (State Transportation Improvement Program). The meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.

Thursday – State of Cary Address

Thursday night I gave the State of Cary address to about 100 people at Glenaire. This was my fourth presentation of the address. Since I just speak from the slides the presentations are all a little different. Questions that followed my presentation focused on the downtown area and the opioid crisis. I was there about an hour and a half.

Saturday – Cary Water Tower

Friday the North Carolina Metro Mayors meeting was cancelled since it was a holiday.

Saturday I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to climb the water tower near the intersection of Kildaire and Maynard. I was joined on the climb by Mayor Pro-Tem Bush and her husband, council member Robinson and her two daughters, council member Frantz, and water employees.

Cary Mayor

Left to right: Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, Mayor Pro Tem Lori Bush and Councilmember Don Frantz inside the water tower

Here are some of the things I learned:

  • The tower section holding the bowl does not hold water. Water is only in the bowl section. The tower section holds piping to and from and an additional pipe for overflow. The electronics are also there which report back to the water plant.
  • The bowl section, while full of water, has a tube with a ladder in the middle to allow access to the top. If maintenance is needed the bowl section can be accessed from the top or from the bottom if the bowl is empty.
  • The water towers are all a certain height above sea level. This is so everyone has the same water pressure. As a result water towers vary in height.
  • The height of this water tower is about 15 stories.

Cary Mayor

The Cary Fire Department was on hand to help us with our climb and to make sure we were hooked in to ropes at all times. I was the first to ascend to the top. The task of climbing took a toll on the arms since you were pulling yourself up at all times. The top of the tower was extremely windy but the view was spectacular. From that vantage point it was easy to see how green Cary was and how many trees we have. After spending about 45 minutes on top I descended back to the bottom. I will never forget this event. Thanks to all of those that made this possible.

Cary Mayor

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Storm Prep

With potentially dangerous weather in the forecast for the holiday on Friday, Police, Fire and Public Works are hoping for the best, preparing for the worst and adjusting staffing as necessary.

Parking Proposal

On March 11, I had a delightful meeting with former council member Regina McLaurin about future parking in the deck adjacent to the library. She would like to schedule time with each of you to discuss a proposal she has pertaining to the parking deck. She understands that parking is an operational need, but wants to move forward with meetings anyway. Ms. McLaurin is requesting that the meetings last 15 minutes, with one or two of you in each meeting. If you want to schedule time with Ms. McLaurin, please send a message to Town Clerk Virginia Johnson.

Documentary Preview and Panel Discussion

On April 11, Mayor Pro Tem Lori Bush and Cary Police Officer Tyler Croneberger served on discussion panel with other community leaders who previewed a screening of the documentary Charm City.

“Charm City is a documentary that delivers a portrait of citizens, police, community advocates, and government officials on the front lines during three years of unparalleled, escalating violence in Baltimore. The film highlights the positive actions undertaken by groups and individuals, optimistically offering humanity as common ground.”

The documentary and the panel discussion is scheduled to air on UNC-TV on Monday, April 22 at 8pm.

CAMPO Executive Board Action 

On April 17, the Executive Board endorsed a recommendation to protect an estimated $4.3 million of exposed CMAQ funding from the upcoming rescission. This action included three initiatives:

  1. Programming funding on two new shovel-ready CMAQ projects in the region;
  2. Allowing FY20 CMAQ projects with preliminary engineering funding programmed to begin early (including Cary’s Crabtree Creek Greenway-Bond Park to High House project); and
  3. Drawing down the remaining fund balance by retroactively applying a higher federal match to existing projects.

The Board also approved a retroactive 80/20 match in lieu of the required 50/50 match for existing projects seeking additional funding. This action resulted in $1.11 million for Cary for the additional funds requested for the White Oak Creek Greenway project.

Other meeting business included a presentation on the Triangle TDM Plan update, discussion on the Draft 2020-2029 STIP revision and an update on the Community Funding Area Program projects.

Cary Assists OWASA

Last weekend, the Orange Water and Sewer Authority OWASA), experienced a broken 30-inch sewer force main. Even though the incident occurred outside of normal business hours, OWASA approached Cary about providing some materials to expedite the repair. Our staff was able to provide OWASA with four 30-inch megalug restraints so they could complete the repair, thus stopping spillage and protecting the environment. A megalug restraint is a joint to hold pipe sections together. Thanks to our warehouse staff for maintaining an inventory that not only protects Cary citizens, but also allowed us to help our neighbors at OWASA. Thanks also to the weekend warriors at Public Works for facilitating the transfer of the parts to OWASA.

Cary Mayor

ACC Tennis

The 2019 ACC Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships kicked off on Wednesday at Cary Tennis Park. This is the 13th time the Town of Cary has hosted this event. Great tennis will continue throughout the weekend, culminating with the Championship matches on Sunday. The Men’s Championships start at 10 am, followed by the Women’s at 2pm. Visit www.theacc.com for updated draws, photos and ticket information. The semi-final and final matches will be live-streamed on ESPN.

Cary Mayor

Pop-Up Egg Hunts

Cary’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt was held on Saturday, April 13. While more than 1,000 smiles were seen all over Bond Park Community Center at the indoor festival, heavy rains nixed the outdoor hunt. The Easter Bunny shared eggs by the bucketful to all who attended, but thousands of eggs remained. This provided the Easter Bunny with the opportunity to travel to a few parks for Cary’s first Pop-Up Egg Hunts. The pop-up hunts were announced on social media the evening before, encouraging followers to check out Instagram stories, @EnjoyCary, to follow along throughout the day to get hints to the locations of each hunt. Thanks to social media followers spreading the word as they discovered the locations, hundreds of kids received “2nd hunt chances” throughout the day at Thomas Brooks Park, Ritter Park, Bond park and Downtown Park.

Recognition

Congratulations to John Holloway, Public Works Operations Support Manager, who graduated from Municipal and County Administration, an 8-month course of study through UNC’s School of Government. This course is designed for city and county managers, department heads, and other city or county officials whose responsibilities require an understanding of functions beyond individual areas of specialization.

Cary Mayor

On Wednesday, 120 Public Works staff members participated in the C-PHIT (Cary’s Personal Health Improvement Together) “Wednesday Walks” in April. Thanks for your commitment to this challenge and your commitment to everything you do for our citizens, each and every day.

Advisory Board Meetings

Planning and Zoning

Mon, 4/22, 6:30 pm

Town Hall Council Chambers

Cary150 Task Force

Tues, 4/23, 6pm

Town Hall Conf Room 10035

Cultural Arts Committee

Wed, 4/24, 6pm

Cary Arts Center

 Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A request for me to be on a board of a non-profit.
  • A complaint about garbage collection (Staff has contacted this person and resolved this issue).
  • A request for information about the Cultural Arts Manager. (Our longtime Cultural Arts Manager, Lyman Collins, is retiring. He will leave a HUGE hole in our program).
  • A comment about the hotel proposal on Weston Parkway.
  • A complaint about a proposal to expand parking at a business on Weston Parkway. (Council will vote on this Thursday. The Planning and Zoning board unanimously approved the proposal.)
  • A complaint that damage from Hurricane Michael has not been cleaned up (This damage is on private property. Public funds cannot be spent on private property.)
  • A concern that leaves, collecting on the fence surrounding the playground at Cary Elementary, are blocking the sidewalk (Staff will look into this.)
  • A complaint about roadside litter at the corner of Green Level Church Road and Green Hope School Road. (This is a state maintained intersection. However I invited them to join me in a special litter sweep of that area. They responded that it was not necessary.)
  • A complaint about the need for a traffic signal at the corner of Green Level Church Road and Green Hope School Road. (Traffic signals are only approved by NCDOT after certain criteria are met. Cary provides criteria to the state and advocates for signals where they are needed.)

Next week I will be on a family vacation with my wife, both daughters, and my son-in-law. I believe this will be the second council meeting I have missed since I have been mayor. The other time was when my mother died. I hope the public can excuse this absence. My son-in-law is being deployed soon this is the last time we will be together for a while. As a result I will not post next week.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 5th.  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.

6 replies
  1. George McDowell
    George McDowell says:

    @Brent – The mayor and council’s positions on issues over which they have no jurisdiction are subjectively either right or wrong, depending on the position of the beholder. While individual councilmembers’ positions on not taking stands may be out of self-interest [which governs how ALL of us act], it is flat-out wrong to state that it is cowardly.

    Mayor Weinbrecht has stated his position on this – many times locally and at least one time nationally – and has given his reasons for holding that position. He may be right or he may be wrong, but he certainly didn’t hide from the question.

    I lived in Baltimore City while it had an activist and grandstanding city council. It took “official action” on topics like apartheid in South Africa, and even went so far as to declare us a Nuclear Free Zone. That was so outrageous that the federal government didn’t bother to comment, and they no doubt snickered in private.

    Meanwhile the potholes proliferated, the housing stock deteriorated, and dead trees went un-replaced in many places. The town, which had undergone a fabulous renovation of its Inner Harbor, began its dreary slide into what it is now – a failed jurisdiction.

    Reply
    • Brent
      Brent says:

      So standing up for whether or not many people in Cary get counted in the census is now wrong?!?

      I sure hope not.

      Reply
  2. Brent
    Brent says:

    Elephant in the room: you noted the census but didn’t state your or the Mayors Association position on the case before the US Supreme Court about the citizenship question.

    Reply
    • Ron Snyder
      Ron Snyder says:

      Brent, your opinion, the Mayor’s opinion, or mine will not make any difference on how SCOTUS will rule. Why do you think that this is an elephant in the room?

      Reply
        • Mark Neill
          Mark Neill says:

          Why? The mayor, and the council as a whole, have explained several times over the past few years that they do not make political position statements on subjects which they or the town have no ability to influence.

          What would the effect be for them to say something, one way or the other?

          Reply

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