Cary, NC – This week’s activities were fewer than expected but I was still busy.
Monday – Wake County Mayors
Monday I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Attending were mayors from Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon. After a brief presentation on police training, we talked about local issues. The focus of our conversation was on the CAMPO LAPP projects (more on that later). We also decided that we should send a letter to the school board asking that municipalities have a say in the naming of schools within their jurisdiction. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.
Wednesday – Transportation Plan
Wednesday was a big day for me and a busy one too.
I joined council member Smith, several staff members, and several chamber staff at the 2019 GRCVB (Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau) Awards luncheon. I was honored to receive the 23rd Annual John B. Ross, Jr. Leadership Award. The GRCVB describes this award as:
“The John B. Ross Leadership Award was established in 1996 to recognize an outstanding executive management-level individual who displays exceptional leadership skills to positively impact the Wake County hospitality industry and community. The award is given in honor of John Ross, who was the GRCVB Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1995-96. The award exemplifies the courage, leadership, dedication and inspiration that Ross portrayed in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years.”
I truly believe an award in my role as mayor is an award for the town of Cary, its staff, and our partners. Because it takes a team effort to create excellence which is what we have in Cary. Here is excerpts from my remarks:
“…Some people believe leadership is making others do what they want. But that’s not leading. That’s using authority and power over someone.
To me, leading is about building and nurturing relationships. It’s about people. No one leads without followers who, through their support and participation, give leaders permission to lead them. Leaders and followers TOGETHER create an environment for success.
…Tourism dollars are important to Cary. And for many years the conversation around the region has been about getting “our fair share” rather than working together for the benefit of all. That conversation and way of thinking has changed. Our town manager, Sean Stegall, deserves a lot of credit for this work. The Council brought Sean to Cary in part to help us improve our standing with our neighbors in the region. And that change started with our thinking, our perspective, and our organization’s culture.
…Whether or not you think of yourself as a “leader” has a lot to do with self-awareness because I believe that each of us follows and each of us leads at different times and at different points in our daily lives. And regardless of the role you happen to be playing at any one moment, you’ll contribute to success by never forgetting to truly listen and to want the very best for the people around you.
Thank you for this award, for your partnership, and for contributing so positively to Cary’s success and the success of our region.”
After the luncheon I joined council, staff, and chamber attendees for pictures. The event was a couple of hours long.
Later Wednesday I chaired a meeting of CAMPO’s (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s) Executive Board. The agenda included four consent items, five public hearings, and one discussion item. The committee unanimously approved an alternate route for the New Bern Avenue Bus Rapid Transit, an amendment to the 2017-2027 Transportation Improvement Program, an amendment to the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan – Air Quality Conformity Determination, the public participation plan, and changes to the FY2021 Locally Administered Projects Program. After discussion the committee approved a modified version of a plan to avoid federal rescission of funds recommended by the CAMPO TCC (Technical Coordinating Committee). The modification would allow projects from Apex, Zebulon, and Holly Springs to continue pass the deadline. This could put them at risk of rescission if they are not funded by June of next year. The positive side of this decision is that the projects would not be delayed which is very important for Apex, Zebulon, and Holly Springs. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.
Friday – NC Legislature Update
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:
Brief OPENING remarks – This week the General Assembly, the Senate in particular, held more committee meetings and considered more substantive bills than we have seen over the past several weeks. The Senate introduced two stand-alone bills that pulled specific provisions from the full appropriations bill that remains stuck at an impasse with the Governor. We expect the House to follow suit with some smaller “mini-budget” bills next week. It does appear that the majority leaders are trying to angle themselves towards adjournment, however the Governor has indicated that he may veto any mini budgets so it’s hard to say how things will play out. Public opinion has not really been a factor – up to this point.
Legislative Schedule and BUDGET H966 / New “Mini” Budgets”
- The legislative schedule is still up in the air – the Speaker has said “if we have to be here until December, we will be here until December.”
- The legislature is now working on “mini” budgets, meaning they are taking provisions from the full budget and passing individual spending bills that that would be more difficult to veto – popular spending such as teacher and state employee raises. The following two bills were unveiled this week:
- H609 would give salary increases to state adult correctional facility employees. It passed the Senate Appropriations and Senate Rules Committees this week.
- H555 appropriates the funds needed for the Medicaid transformation process from fee for service to managed care. It passed the Senate Health Care and Senate Finance Committees this week.
- We expect the House to release “mini” budget bills next week related to state employee raises and teacher pay.
- We are working hard to get the Coalition’s priorities covered that were included in the larger budget like public transit/SMAP and Powell Bill funding. It is uncertain right now whether they will pull specific provisions, entire sections of the budget, or only focus on popular topics such pay increases.
Nothing New to Report
- H370, Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE
- The issue has made national news – link to an article from the Atlantic.
- The bill sets out the protocol for sheriff’s for ICE compliance, states that failure to comply is grounds for dismissal, and creates a reporting function.
- The legislation passed the House Tuesday on a concurrence vote (62-53).
- The Governor issued his first of two vetoes this week (both supporting local authority) – here is the Governor veto message (Governor’s veto statement).
- Given the margin of the votes in the House, the veto will likely be sustained if and when it comes to a vote.
- This will continue to be a hotly debated political fight and there is potential for subsequent versions of the bill to pop up in the next few months
Nothing new to report
Local Revenues/ Local Control
- S681 – Rural Health Care/Local Sales Tax Flexibility
- This bill was originally sponsored by Sen. Berger and established a loan program for struggling rural hospitals.
- The House added a provision that would provide counties the flexibility to levy, by referendum, an additional ¼ cent sales tax.
- The Senate did not concur with the House changes (including the local option sale tax for counties)
- This week in the Senate Finance Committee, H704 (originally Dental Bill of Rights) was stripped and the Senate’s original language from S681 (dealing only with rural hospitals) was added (no local option sales tax)
- It was stated in committee that the legislative effort to help rural hospitals needs to be addressed as a separate and unique effort, so this is an strong indication that the Senate will not consider the House language that added the local sales tax flexibility.
H645 – Billboard Bill
The bill was vetoed by the Governor yesterday afternoon. (VETO Statement from Governor).
His veto message indicates his support of local governments and local efforts to manage billboards and protection of natural resources.
As the bill was moving through the General Assembly it had fairly strong support with strong likelihood of passing in a much more onerous form, but municipal advocates were able to minimize the negative impact of the bill on local authority to manage billboards. Over time the industry group continued to agree to changes and met with specific municipalities and municipal advocates. The NC League of Municipalities, and later the Metro Mayors, did not actively oppose this bill, while others continued to express a number of concerns.
We believe the margin of the vote in the House is not enough to override the veto should it come up for a vote.
There is a likelihood that this issue could be visited in a more piece meal fashion with smaller provisions from the bill popping up elsewhere in the next few months. We aren’t sure what that might look like, but will keep an eye out.
We encourage individual cities that had concerns about the bill to express their thanks to the Governor for his support of local governments.
Our meeting concluded after about 20 minutes.
Saturday – Lazy Daze
Saturday I had the honor and pleasure of official opening the 43rd Lazy Daze festival in Cary which is one of the largest in the southeast and is ranked #20 in the nation for arts and crafts.
The ceremony began with our town crier, John Webster, from our sister city in Markham, Canada. He is Cary’s official crier and travels here every year with his wife Mary to start off Lazy Daze. At a competition this year in Holland, Michigan, John was named the international town crier champion. And of course, listed Cary as one of his cities. After his cry to open Lazy Daze he presented me and the town with a nice painting of Unionville which is a part of Markham. Having visited there a couple of years ago I knew right where it was. What an honor it is to have him as our crier.
Jerry Miller followed the town crier. He started Lazy Daze decades ago and gave the honorary opening.
I followed with the official opening, introduced the council members, and provided information about Lazy Daze such as there were 300 artists from 18 states. After the opening ceremonies I toured the campus to see the vendors. There was about everything you could imagine. I stopped and had my picture made with the WTVD crew who were one of the sponsors of Lazy Daze this year. The crowds were a little less because of the forecast for rainy weather. But the weather was fantastic with mid 70s and clouds. You rarely see that this time of year.
Later in the morning I had the honor and privilege of dedicating the parlor in the Page Walker as the Jerry Miller Room. Here are the remarks I spoke from:
Good morning! It is an honor to stand here today with my fellow council members to celebrate a man who has continued to dedicate his time and talents to better our community.
This parlor in which we stand in today has been renamed to honor Mr. Jerry Miller, a Cary citizen who has shed a positive light on our Town for the past 50 years. Through his passion and love for his community, he has impacted a variety of Cary’s programs and signature events.
Since the early 1970’s, Jerry has drawn and painted a large selection of historical landmarks, churches, schools and colleges across the state, winning numerous local and state awards. Through this work he helped spread awareness of historic preservation efforts. He has documented many of Cary’s historical buildings in his finely detailed style like the water-colored prints displayed in this room and throughout town hall.
Jerry is known for his illustrations in “Around and About Cary,” a book on local history, authored by his long-time friend and neighbor, Tom Byrd.
In 2001, to commemorate the 25th annual festival, the Lazy Daze Committee instituted the Lazy Daze Invitation Awards, now named the Jerry Miller Artist Awards to honor Jerry as the Lazy Daze founding father.
In 2013, Jerry was awarded with Cary’s Hometown Spirit Award in recognition of his many contributions to the Cary community.
Today, we honor Jerry for his work chronicling Cary’s historic structures, past and present, by dedicating this room in the historic Page-Walker by renaming it the “Jerry Miller Room”.
Jerry, for all you do, for who you are, Cary is grateful for your endless contributions to this community.
Jerry Miller is a great artist, a great ambassador of Cary, but more importantly a great person. I am blessed to know such a kind and generous person.
Sunday – Political Event
Sunday I attended a political event for Josh Stein. There are many of these events this time of year. I was only there a short time.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
Congratulations to Mayor Weinbrecht on receipt of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau’s 23rd Annual John B. Ross, Jr. Leadership Award. This award was made because of your leadership and vision in transforming the Town of Cary into the premier sports destination that it is today. [Check out Cary’s news release for more details!]
150th Task Force
I had the opportunity to join the 150th Task Force when the members met on August 20. It was great to find out what they have been working on provide feedback regarding their preliminary plans for Cary’s 150th birthday celebration that will take place throughout 2021. Members of each committee (Festivals and Events, Public Engagement, History and Commemorative) updated the Task Force on their discussions from their individual committee meetings in July. The members also reviewed each committee’s month-by-month plans month by month plans for the year-long celebration. Turning 150 only happens once, and I encouraged the members to continue with their ideas and plans for this special celebration.
Interlocal Agreement Approved
The Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Raleigh City Council approved the 21st Amendment to the Revised Interlocal Agreement between Wake County and the City of Raleigh related to the countywide room occupancy and prepared food and beverage (Hospitality) tax revenues. In addition to continuing funding of the PNC Arena and Raleigh Convention Center (including maintaining financial capacity for expansion), the agreement provides for $3 million in annual funding for capital maintenance of the Cary Sports Facilities, $2.36 million for 25 years to fund a future Indoor Sports Facility and $46.6 million to support Medium Competitive Capital Projects. An RFP process will be established for the Indoor Sports Facility and the Medium Competitive Projects. The next review and public process will be due by July 1, 2022.
Glitch in Utility Billing
This week our utility bill print vendor inadvertently printed and mailed two copies of bills to 8,100 utility account holders. We responded to numerous calls and posted on social media to let citizens know that their accounts were not charged twice and that automatic payments would not be processed twice. The bill print vendor will send letters from the Town to each affected account holder to confirm this message.
Funding for Reedy Creek Road
On August 21, the CAMPO Executive Board approved an additional $3.7 million for the Reedy Creek Road Project. Cary has received several rounds of LAPP funding to help design and build a complete street on Reedy Creek Road that will serve not only motorists but also cyclists and pedestrians. The total project cost is estimated to be $14.6 million.
Cary submitted for ROW and construction funding in FFY18 and FFY19 and initially divided the project into two phases to maximize funding opportunities. Now recombined, the project will be constructed in its entirety to minimize impacts to residents and maximize efficiency. In FFY19, the project received a small LAPP grant of $632,029, less than the original $5,376,000 LAPP request. In response to a pending federal rescission and efforts by CAMPO to spend down funds, Cary successfully pursued additional funding for construction. Project construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2020.
Steve Schuster, noted architect for helping transform downtown Raleigh and also designer on several projects for Cary, died last weekend. Steve Schuster and Thomas Sayre founded the design firm Clearscapes in 1981.The firm worked on three significant projects in Cary – the Cary Arts Center, Jack Smith Park architecture and, most recently, the new Cary Regional Library and Parking Deck. Our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
Swift Creek Greenway Repairs
During the week of August 26, a contractor is scheduled to repair the paving at the entrance to the Swift Creek Greenway along Kildaire Farm Road. This work will require lane closures from 9am to 4pm on northbound Kildaire Farm Road between Lochmere Drive and Loch Highlands Drive. This repair will address the aging trail and safety issues.
The Tourism Economic Development Report is the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau’s monthly that demonstrates the Bureau’s role in accelerating sustainable growth and development by increasing visitor and convention business.
Community Center Closed
As a quick reminder, Bond Park Community Center will be closed for maintenance from Monday, August 26 through Monday, September 2. The Community Center will resume operations on Tuesday, September 3.
Annie Jones Greenway Improvements
Permits were submitted and a design is complete to pave the trail at Annie Jones Park to McCloud Court (650 feet). A six-foot wide concrete trail will be installed, and the stairs at McCloud Court will be removed making access to the park easier. Contractors will submit pricing in September to complete the paving and grading work needed. In the meantime, we will be removing approximately eight trees within the corridor that are located on top of the sewer easement. This tree removal work should occur by the second week of September.
Utility Contractor Training
On Tuesday, 54 project managers, construction managers, and installers attended the second utility contractor installation training session. In addition to traffic control, 811 regulations, and tree protection/landscaping, an NC811 representative presented upcoming changes to utility locating law that will take effect on October 1. Between the two sessions, our staff reached almost 70 people from more than 20 companies that will be doing work in Cary’s right of way. It was a valuable opportunity to communicate and collaborate with the utility industry as well a great team effort by Transportation & Facilities and Public Works.
Cary Hosts Purchasing Training
This week Cary hosted training for 45 governmental purchasing professionals from across the state. Cary colleagues Shaun Mizell and Precious Seabrooks facilitated two of the sessions on procurement in the future and insurance requirements, respectively. Thanks to everyone who supported this work to enhance collaboration and best practices.
International Champions Cup
Cary and NCFC hosted three European Professional Women’s teams and our NC Courage at WedMed Soccer Park for the Women’s International Champions Cup (ICC). Olympique Lyonnais narrowly defeated the NC Courage 1-0 in an entertaining match of back and forth opportunities in front of a great crowd in the finals match on Sunday, August 18. The event and facility were represented well at both of Sunday’s matches as they aired on ESPN TV channels. Council member George attended Sunday’s match.
Golf Course Up to Par
The sewer repairs at the Prestonwood Golf Course are complete. Installation of the cured-in-place liners wrapped up on Saturday, August 17. The liners essentially form a new pipe within the existing pipe that is fully structural without relying on the “host pipe” for support. Since the liners are seamless from manhole to manhole and the surface is smooth, they do not reduce the flow capacity of the sewer line. This process extends the service life of the sewer lines by 50 years. While the sewer repair is complete, remaining work on the project includes repairing the asphalt cart path, replacing the top sections of manholes, removing the pumps and pipes used to reroute sewer flows during the project, and removing the temporary mats that protected the golf course. This work is expected to take about a week. Prestonwood will contract directly to replace turf, where required.
Basketball with PD
On Saturday, members of the Cary Police Department and YM4C came together for the monthly Balling4Brotherhood event at the Taylor Family YMCA in Cary. Balling4Brotherhood engages young people, community leaders, and public servants from around the Triangle to build relationships through a mutual love of basketball.
Project PHOENIX is designed to help residents, owners and rental property managers keep their communities safe by sharing information, reviewing crime trends and developing strategies for solving problems and reducing the fear of crime in and near multifamily housing communities.
Chatham Forest held its Annual Cookout on Saturday and invited Town staff members to join them for games, fun and great food. The police department was in charge of setting up an inflatable water slide. While the officers were able to get the slide inflated without any problems, only a garden hose was available to fill it. Fortunately, they were able to call on their brothers from the Fire Department to assist. A fire hose is much more effective at filling a water slide and pool! Thanks to the team effort, the children were able to cool off and have fun on the water slide right away.
Officer Ken Collins partners with residents and management staff to become involved in community affairs and tailor services to the unique characteristics and needs of Woodlyn on the Green. Community Director Marie Brady said, “Project PHOENIX promotes an additional sense of community to Woodlyn on the Green.”
In another part of town, Officer Kevin Bern partners with residents and management staff to become involved in community affairs and tailor services to the unique characteristics and needs of the Arium. According to the staff at the Arium, “PHOENIX means safety and community partnerships to us. PHOENIX Rocks!”
Advisory Board Meetings
Mon, 8/26, 6:30pm
Town Hall Council Chambers
Wed, 8/28, 6:00pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Staff Report on Tap Water
There were many residents with cloudy water this week. Here is the staff’s report of that issue:
… I’m writing to let you know that as of last night, we believe we have solved the cloudy water conditions reported in parts of western Cary.
We believe the source of discoloration in the water system was related to sediment from a newly constructed pipeline recently placed in service. The new pipeline serves only the Western Pressure Zone, which is why the discolored water was isolated to the area west of Hwy 55 around Green Level Church Road and Green Level West Road. While the new pipeline has been in service for a couple of weeks, flows and velocities were increased substantially this week due to changes in system configuration, and we believe this increase in water velocity dislodged construction mud not cleared during the pre-release testing process. We’ve replaced and added a lot of pipe in Cary, and this is the first time in my 20 years of utilities work that I’ve seen this unusual occurrence!
It’s important to note that all water, including that which was cloudy, met or exceeded regulatory standards for safety and at no time was public health jeopardized.
We have completed flushing the water system including Carpenter storage tank at Hwy 55. As part of our response effort, we worked extensively in the community providing flushing assistance to residents and answering calls. We’ve carefully inspected the water system and physically climbed the western pressure zone water tanks for a thorough inspection. As part of the overall flushing effort, we’ve removed the discolored water and provided fresh water to the system. For most affected residents, conditions had returned to normal by mid-day on Thursday. In fact, we received some follow up e-mail from residents late yesterday indicating their water had returned to normal.
Emails from Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included:
- A complaint about election signs (Unfortunately we have little control over those. It is best to complain to the candidate if you don’t like the signs).
- Complaints about water (addressed above)
- Question about the Sams Jones house across from the Cary Arts Center (Still scheduled to be open as a restaurant once the renovations are complete).
- Congrats on the Xerox announcement
- Suggestions on the mall redevelopment proposal
- A complaint about the bond cost for the downtown park
- A question about cable installation
- A complaint about the RDU quarry proposal (Cary is not one of the decision makers)
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, one staff review (council has three direct reports: town attorney, town manager, and town clerk), interview with homebuilders association, a quarterly meeting of council and staff, and a trip to New York to accept an award on behalf of the town (costs are paid by the presenter of the award).
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 1st. 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.