Meeting with Historian
Monday afternoon I met with a historian who talked about citizen interest in Cary’s history. We discussed opportunities for the town to be involved in special historical specific events. I encouraged a conversation with the Parks Director before continuing.
Council Meeting Prep
Later Monday I contacted council members to hear of any questions or concerns about Thursday’s agenda. One council member expressed a concern about the lack of affordable housing in a proposal. Another council member had questions about the amendments to the Land Development Ordinance.
Later in the day I met with the Mayor Pro-Tem and staff to review the agenda items.
Town Manager One-On-One
Monday evening I met briefly with the town manager and Mayor Pro-Tem. We discussed the Environmental Advisory Board, the upcoming work session, and a few other topics.
Wake County Mayors Association
Monday night I joined a meeting of the Wake County Mayors. Attending were mayors from Cary, Fuquay Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon. The meeting started with speakers who are our appointees to the Centennial Authority. They mostly talked about of the expansion of RBC arena and surrounding properties. There are plans to make it a destination center with restaurants, retail, etc., in addition to the venue. The cost may reach $250 million which will be funded by bonds. The bonds will be paid for with hotel, meal, and occupancy tax monies.
The remainder of the meeting was a roundtable discussion on a variety of topics including bills in the legislature that could be harmful to our communities. The meeting concluded after a little over two hours.
Tuesday I joined staff and members of EDC (Economic Development Committee) in a work session to explore how we could better utilize our committee members. Our current committee includes prominent business leaders with decades of experience. After several exercises and discussions, the consensus was that committee members needed to be involved more in the early part of the development cycle. They believe they could provide feedback on the economic impact of a proposal. The ideas will be fleshed out by staff and brought back to the committee at our next meeting in June.
Council Work Session
Wednesday the council held a work session to cover topics that were planned for the annual retreat last month. Topics included Greenways and E-Bikes, capital projects, and housing. Here are some points made in the work session:
- All of our greenways are designed for bicycles.
- 800 citizens were surveyed about e-bikes, 50% excited, 20% comfortable.
- Surrounding communities don’t enforce e-bike use on greenways.
- The council should expect an ordinance amendment on e-bikes in April.
- Cameras will be installed at trailheads.
- Staff will develop greenway safety and etiquette educational campaign and install additional speed limit signage along the greenways.
- The e-bikes program will expire in 18 months and will be re-evaluated.
- Downtown Cary Park is 83% completed and will be finished this year.
- Higgins Greenway phase III will begin construction this year and will have 12-foot-wide paths.
- Intersection improvements at Kildaire and Walnut will realign lanes on Kildaire and should be finished in the coming months.
- The Ivey-Ellington will be refurbished and will house staff offices. We may build a tabletop deck (2 levels) on the old parking lot site. The rest of the site will remain open.
- 2019 bonds are being implemented with several more parks and transportation projects left on the bonds.
- There are 41 funded sidewalk projects totaling 10.4 miles, 14 supported by ARPA funds, and 6 supported by 2019 bonds.
- Parks projects Dunham, Annie Jones, Penny Road, are completed or should be completed this year.
- Cary Parkway Pedestrian bridge will start construction this year and will be completed in 2025/2026.
- Crabtree Creek Trail and Weston Parkway tunnel will start construction this year and be completed late next year.
- Carpenter Fire Station Road widening will start construction this year and be completed in 2025.
- Carpenter Fire Station Road Park and McCrimmon Park will be completed this year.
- $5 million budgeted for this year for affordable housing. FY 2024, which starts July 1, will be about the same.
- $1.15 million from operations and $3.85 million from capital.
- One penny on our tax rate is about $3.7 million which exceeds recommendations from special interest groups for affordable housing.
Joint CAMPO and DCHC MPO Commuter Rail Committee Meeting
Thursday I was part of a meeting at CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) headquarters in Fenton of Cary. It was a joint meeting between a CAMPO subcommittee and a DCHC (Durham Chapel Hill Carrboro) subcommittee to discuss commuter rail’s phase one beginning and destination. The CAMPO subcommittee was made up of CAMPO officers, CAMPO staff, Wake Forest Mayor Jones, Raleigh Council member Branch, Mayor Weinbrecht from Cary, Mayor Marshburn from Garner, Mayor Cawley from Morrisville, Wake County Commissioner Evans, and GoTriangle Board member Hutchinson. The DCHC subcommittee was made up of Chair Weaver, Orange County Commissioner Greene, Durham Council member Cabellero, Carrboro Commissioner Seils, Durham County Commissioner Jacobs, and GoTriangle member Parker. The discussion focused on the termination of phase one of the commuter rail route which begins in Garner. Options were RTP, Ellis Road, or further. After a lengthy discussion the DCHC representatives said they needed more time and information to make a choice. Since there is no federal funding for phase one I estimate that the realization of this route is at least ten years out. The meeting concluded after a couple of hours.
Toni Dezomits Reception
Before the council meeting on Thursday the staff and council held a reception for outgoing Public Safety Director Toni Dezomits who is retiring in April. She is a beloved member that will be sorely missed. Some of the things I noted about her in a proclamation include:
- 27 years of public service, 25 in Cary.
- 1989-1997, serving our country bravely and honorably in the United States Army including in Operation Desert Storm.
- Served first as a Sergeant, followed by her appointment as a District Lieutenant, a District and Professional Standards Captain, an Assistant Chief of Professional Standards, and our Police Chief before transitioning to her current role as Director of Public Safety in 2021.
- Always deeply committed to Cary’s organizational value of ‘people first’’
- Toni adaptively grew along with Cary as it evolved from a thriving community of 46,000 when she began her career here to a maturing community of more than 182,000 citizens today, perhaps best exemplified through her collaboration in the introduction of Geo Policing which enables officers to partner with citizens and become experts on the needs, issues, and concerns of the people within their district.
- Toni’s high standards for both integrity and ethical policing made her excel in her job, it was her shining kindness toward everyone she encountered that made her a very special kind of colleague and friend, most especially among her peers in the department director group who cherish her with the highest regard.
- Toni will enjoy her retirement from the vast responsibilities inherent in her business role, to enjoy her partnership with wife Hilary and three beloved dogs while continuing to serve as a volunteer and foster home for Chihuahua rescue while also embracing her love for the outdoors, mountain biking, and enhancing her self-taught guitar skills along with all the other freedoms and adventures that retirement brings.
Wishing you the best in retirement Toni! We will miss you!
Thursday the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of the month.
The meeting included recognition of Toni Dezomits, two consent items, two public hearings, and one discussion item. The public hearing on Carpenter Fire Station at Highcroft PDD drew more than a dozen speakers in opposition. The second public hearing was for an annexation on Green Level West Road associated with rezoning 22-REZ-26 and had no speakers. Our discussion item was for the Fire Station 4 Renovation Bid Award which was unanimously approved. The council meeting concluded after about two hours.
NC Metro Mayors
The North Carolina Metro Mayors met virtually Friday morning to hear and discuss legislative actions. Here is a summary of legislative actions from KTS Strategies:
House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) confirmed the House budget will be released to the public next Wednesday, March 29. The proposal will have its first committee hearings following its release. The House is on track to have their budget passed by the first week of April. This is one of the quickest budget timelines we have seen in recent memory. The Senate plans to have their version passed in May. The two chambers will then negotiate in a conference committee until a final compromise has been reached. The goal is to have a budget completed before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
This week, the House considered H347, Sports Wagering. The bill would authorize, regulate, and tax sports betting in North Carolina. The Lottery Commission would be responsible for regulating and issuing licenses to 10 to 12 sports wagering operators. A 14 percent privilege tax would be levied on each operator. A portion of tax revenues would be distributed to DHHS for problem gambling, the NC Department of Parks and Recreation for grants to benefit youth sports, certain universities to support collegiate athletic departments, and the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council for grants for sports team travel assistance.
The bill passed the House Commerce, Finance, and Judiciary Committees this week. It will be heard in the House Rules Committee next Tuesday before heading to the floor for consideration.
The legislature gave final approval to Medicaid expansion this week. H76, Access to Healthcare Options, was heard on the House floor Wednesday and Thursday for concurrence votes. The bill passed on third reading with a vote of 87-24. It will now head to Governor Cooper for approval. Expansion would not be enacted immediately upon signature. It is contingent upon passage of this year’s state budget.
Governor Cooper allowed two bills to become law without his signature. S53, Hotel Safety Issues, would clarify that accommodations provided by inns, hotels, motels, or similar lodgings for less than 90 consecutive days do not create a tenancy. H40, Prevent Civil Rioting and Disorder, would increase the penalties for rioting or inciting rioting that causes damage to property, serious bodily injury, or death. It would also increase the penalty for certain assaults on emergency personnel. Both issues were passed by the legislature last year, but ultimately vetoed by the Governor. They are now Session Law 2023-5 and Session Law 2023-6 respectively.
NC Courage Kicks Off Season
Saturday I attended the first NC Courage match of the year. Cary’s NC Courage kicked off their 2023 season in style with a 1-0 victory over Kansas City. This was the team that beat them in the semi-finals last year. In attendance was a board member from the USA Soccer Federation and several other dignitaries. I had the opportunity to briefly meet a few. It was a good time and I wish our Courage the best.
Wake County Mayors Association Hockey Outing
Sunday I joined other Wake County Mayors at the PNC arena for our annual hockey outing. We were treated to a hockey match between the two best teams in the NHL. It was Whaler night which is a throwback night to the predecessor to the Carolina Hurricanes. That is, they used to be the Hartford Whalers. I had my picture made with Plunky the Whale which was their mascot in Hartford. The match was a good one that ended up in a shootout. Unfortunately, the Canes did not win the shootout. It was a great game, and we had a lot of fun. Thanks to the Centennial Authority for hosting us..
Town Manager’s Report
On Tuesday, we had an incredible half-day workshop with Council’s Economic Development Committee focused on how the Town can better leverage the talents, skills, experience, and energy of each member in our work to keep Cary at the top of the arc from an economic development lens. The session was facilitated by Foutainworks and included topics such as the elements of inspiring communities, corridor redevelopment, development recommendations, and potential structural changes to the committee’s meetings and schedule.
This was a significant time commitment by all who attended, and I believe that it will result in substantive impacts by the committee in the months and years to come.
I want to thank Ted Boyd, Kerry Harville, and Sarah Schubert for their work in making the workshop everything I hoped it would be and more.
Enjoy your weekend.
Annual Joint Meeting with Morrisville
On April 20, we will be hosting our annual joint meeting/social with Morrisville. Morrisville Town Manager Martha Paige and I have discussed keeping the meeting focused on fellowship. With that said, if there is a particular topic or two that you would like to more formally discuss for inclusion on the agenda, please let me know by April 7.
Celebrating Trees at Arbor Day
Cary celebrated its commitment to urban forests at Arbor Day. Approximately 800 guests took part in commemorating Cary’s 40th consecutive designation as a Tree City USA community from the Arbor Day Foundation. Mayor Pro Tem Don Frantz and Council Members Ryan Eades and Carissa Kohn-Johnson honored Hometown Spirit Award winners with Arbor Day trees via a brief ceremony that was paired with tree sapling giveaways from the Ask and Arborist booth. The event was rich with environmental engagement thanks to community partner groups who helped host 24 education stations covering topics such as proper tree planting techniques, composting, native plants, and climate action. Live bird demos with a professional falconer, the chance to contribute to a tree-themed public art mural, and locally sourced food were big hits as community members enjoyed the free festivities.
Public Safety Director Toni Dezomits Retires
On Thursday, staff and community members celebrated the retirement of Public Safety Director Toni Dezomits. Toni has served the Cary community with distinction for over 25 years, and we wish her all the best!
Supporting Pollinators and Honeybees in 2023
Expanding on the success of beekeeping at South Cary Water Reclamation Facility (SCWRF), staff launched a nine-month trial period to keep honeybees at some fire stations. Staff and citizen beekeepers are working together to understand the importance and nature of bees and other pollinators, why they need our help, and how they contribute to healthy and connected ecosystems.
2022 Asset Management Report
The 2022 Annual Asset Management Report is complete, providing a dashboard view of the current state of Cary’s linear assets. The report tracks assets added through capital and development initiatives and helps verify the achievement of key performance targets. Over the past year, the focus has remained on GIS improvements, maintaining buried linear infrastructure, and continuing work on risk-based capital planning. One of the highlights of the report is the continued high level of sewer main rehabilitation, with significant progress along the Black Creek and Lake Crabtree corridors.
Staff Experiences More AV Tech With NC A&T
With CASSI off and running in Bond Park, staff had an opportunity to experience more autonomous driving with the students and faculty at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. As a member of North Carolina’s Future of Autonomous Vehicles (FAV) Committee, Traffic Engineer David Spencer joined other committee members to hear from Dr. Ali Karimoddini and his students about the impressive work and achievements of the Autonomous Cooperative Control of Emergent Systems of Systems (ACCESS) Laboratory. NC A&T’s ACCESS Lab has developed a rural testing track in Brown Summit, where they test a developing fleet of autonomous shuttles and vehicles for operations in a rural environment. The ACCESS Lab will move on to test their vehicles in an urban environment by providing a connection from the NC A&T campus to downtown Greensboro, featuring a one-mile loop that connects restaurants and shops. This experience was valuable as staff further understood the capabilities of various AV technology and how it could be applied in a wide range of applications.
Sensors Along Davis Drive
Cary has partnered with NC State University to study the viability and impact of road treatments as a possible tool to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Weather permitting, NC State University will place temperature, air, and light sensors at three intersections along Davis Drive next week. The sensors are attached to poles within the right-of-way and will not encumber traffic. They are expected to be in place for a week and deployed quarterly to continue gathering seasonal data on the eco-friendly road maintenance treatment.
2023 Annual Controlled Burn
The annual controlled burn was conducted at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve on Wednesday. The burn was conducted by the NC State Parks in partnership with Cary’s Fire Department and preserve staff. These burns are completed to reduce the potential for fire and to protect adjacent neighborhoods as well as improve wildlife habitat.
Speaking with Real Estate Professionals About Utility Infrastructure
Utilities Director Jamie Revels was invited to speak with a group of real estate professionals with the local Cary/Morrisville Berkshire Hathaway York Simpson Underwood office about utility infrastructure and water supply earlier this week. This was a great opportunity to share information about Cary’s utility services and how infrastructure is master planned to serve both current and long-term needs for overall utility service area including, Cary, Morrisville, Wake RTP and RDU Airport.
My Tree, Our Tree
Now in its third year, Saturday’s My Tree, Our Tree campaign sent 600 native trees into the community for citizens to plant on private property. With the enthusiastic and unabated demand, staff are increasing the number of trees that will be offered in the fall, developing a new registration process, and redesigning logistics to keep the momentum going.
Growing Gardens at Good Hope Farm
More than 100 volunteers planted native wildflowers and grasses this spring that will support pollinators this summer at Cary’s newest ecosystem restoration site. Through partnerships with local experts and the generous efforts of volunteers, including college students from the University of Georgia who joined us for their Alternative Spring Break Service Project, these sites are building valuable wildlife corridors for birds, bees, and butterflies in our community and beyond.
Counting Down to Count You In
In addition to Arbor Day festivities, this week featured the soft launch of Count me in, Cary! Stewardship Strategies for a Sustainable Future. Staff, consultants, and volunteers continue to elevate efforts that will culminate and be ready to fly at Cary’s Spring Daze Earth Day celebration and beyond. Keep an eye out as the coming six months will feature topics to learn about and engage with including: Community Resilience, Energy, Water Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility, Solid Waste, and Natural Resources.
Cary Chamber Business Expo
Staff from Planning and Development Services joined more than 70 businesses at the Cary Chamber’s 2023 Business Expo. The Expo is always a great opportunity to talk with other businesses and citizens about the development process and all the exciting projects shaping Cary.
Planning and Zoning Board
Monday, March 27
at 6:30 p.m.
Preservation Month Committee of HPC
Monday, March 27
at 7:00 p.m.
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning
Wednesday, March 29
at 6:30 p.m.
- A comment about my grammar in last week’s post.
- A complaint about a staff member at a committee meeting.
- A complaint about homeless people on state property.
- An invitation to see Biden coming to Durham next week.
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a State of Cary address at the Templeton, meeting with citizens and candidates, participating in a history event, and a North Carolina Metro Mayors meeting.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 2nd, 2023. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communication with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to email@example.com.