Monday I attempted to contact council members to hear of questions and/or concerns about the upcoming regularly scheduled council meeting. Since the agenda was very light there were none. Later in the day I meet virtually with Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz, Directors, and Management to go over the agenda.
Town Manager One-On-One
My last meeting Monday was my weekly meeting with the town manager. Topics included EMS response times and the priority of future parks.
First Meeting of DEI Task Force
Tuesday night I virtually joined the first DEI Task Force meeting. Their agenda included introductions and the start of creating their work plan. The task force members were tasked with thinking about things that should be included in their work plan before their next meeting on July 5th.
Economic Development Committee
Wednesday I joined council members Smith and Robinson in a meeting of the Economic Development Committee. The meeting started with a discussion about restructuring the committee to allow more input from the citizen members. In addition, the committee agreed that adding two more citizen members would be beneficial.
The quarterly report from the Cary Chamber included the following information:
- Advanced Manufacturing and a HealthCare Technology firm is expanding with an estimated capital investment of about $80 million. The number of new jobs is unknown currently.
- There are three recruitment projects in the pipeline with the potential for 1105 jobs and $105 million in capital investment.
- The product trend continues to be consistent over the past 12 months, mostly interest in the Industrial and Life Science space, with consultants and corporations looking for existing or shell buildings. There were a few a looking at build-to-suit opportunities averaging in size from 50,000 – 250, 000 square feet. Raw land request on average ranges from 20 – 40 acres, with some as much as 150 plus acres.
- There are two separate development firms on large industrial / flex space type of product sets. The first is in west Cary with 15 acres and a planned building size of around 170,000 sq ft, of which can be 2 buildings, or one large building. The other is a large tract in northwest Cary near the airport. This tract is 142 acres and is planned to have just over 700,000 sq ft of flex/ industrial space. Both projects are estimated to have their site /development plans approved from the Town within the next 4-6 months.
- Interest in the class A office market is starting to pick up somewhat, but based on office professionals, the office market will take more time before it comes back, and at what extent is still unknown. We have been working towards gaining interest in locating some of the smaller office projects into our new downtown development opportunities. Most office professionals seem to feel that it is estimated around 18 -24 months.
Under Old and New Business, the committee discussed remanent parcels around town and agreed that the town should consider purchasing some as open space.
The report from the Economic Development Director included a video concept of the “Center” sports and entertainment venue in South Hills. Staff continues to work with the landowners on an agreement.
In the committee’s general discussion, topics included the 30th anniversary of our sister city relationship with Hsinchu city, social districts, and how to market Cary’s people and talent. The meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.
Town Council Meeting
Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month. The meeting started with a reading of a proclamation recognizing the Cary Fire Department’s 100 years of service. I presented the proclamation to Battalion Chief Tracy Williams. Chief Mike Cooper also provided a few remarks. The public speaks out portion of the meeting had two speakers asking for gun reform due to gun violence across the United States. Unfortunately municipalities have very little authority when it comes to gun regulations. Our only public hearing was on the budget and there were no in-person speakers. After a brief closed session, the meeting was adjourned with a meeting time of about 45 minutes.
Weatherstone 5th Grader Recognition Ceremony
Friday I had the joy of being the Guest Speaker at the Weatherstone Elementary 5th Grade Recognition Ceremony. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:
“… I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished. When you were in the middle of 3rd grade, you had to suddenly move into remote learning, leaving behind your school, teachers, and friends. While you were able to see your friends and teachers on a computer screen is not the same as seeing them in person. So that had to be tough, but you stuck it out, you adapted, and you learned how to be flexible. Those are skills that will serve you well as you move through school and throughout your life.
A lot has changed since you first arrived at Weatherstone. And, as you might suspect, a lot has changed since I was in elementary school. In fact, I finished the 5th grade 55 years ago. It was very different back then:
There were no computers in houses. In fact there were very few computers in the world. And the computers that existed would take up an entire room.
There were no cell phones. In fact most families only had one phone in their house that was attached to a wire (called a land line today).
There were no smart watches. In fact, back then there were no digital watches. All watches did was tell time.
TVs were in a very big box and there was usually just one in a house. And they usually had antennas on top of the TV or on top of the house so that you could pick up a TV station.
In this area there were only 2 TV stations and they both shut off around midnight.
Usually families had just one car.
Milk used to be delivered to my house by a milkman.
The most popular music back then was by the Beatles. Many of you probably haven’t hear of them.
The president was Lyndon Johnson.
The US was fighting the Vietnam War.
The only high school in Cary was Cary High School and I believe the only elementary schools were Cary elementary and Kingswood.
This area has changed a lot. Raleigh back then was smaller than Cary is today.
Raleigh had a population of about 137,000 people 55 years ago. Cary has over 180,000 people today.
The world has changed a lot in the last 55 years and in my lifetime. And the world continues to change every day.
To be ready for that change we must always be learning, including myself. If we never stop learning, there is no telling what we can do. In fact, you may surprise yourself. I never planned to work with computers or be a mayor, but I was able to do that because I never stopped learning. And the adults in this room are the same. Their choices in their lives have a lot to do with what they learned. So if you want more choices in life you need to learn all you can.
So my message to you as you move into the sixth grade is to never stop learning. And if you only remember one thing that I say today remember this: Each and every one of you has gifts and talents. And those gifts and talents can help you succeed in whatever you pursue.
Before I close, I need to thank Principal Chadwick, Vice Principal Thomas, and all your phenomenal teachers and staff that work hard to encourage you and empower you. To the teachers, please know that you are a gift. Thank you! And thanks for dedicating your life to building our future. You have built a strong foundation with these students as they move forward in their education.
To the parents and guardians here today, to say the past few years have been difficult is an understatement. But you persevered. You navigated parenting, schooling, running a household, working, and many other things during this pandemic. I admire your dedication and unconditional love for your children.
And last, but not least, CONGRATULATIONS to our soon to be 6th graders—I am so proud of each of you! You have accomplished so much during your time at Weatherstone Elementary and I wish you luck as you continue your education journey towards graduating from high school as the class of 2029!”
After speaking the principal presented me with a T-shirt that included all the names of the 5th grade graduating class. How cool is that!
North Carolina Metro Mayors
Friday the North Carolina Metro Mayors met to get an update on the legislature. Here is a summary of legislative actions from KTS Strategies:
House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs held closed-door meetings all week to work out their area-specific portions of the budget. House and Senate leadership have already reached an agreement on topline spending. We anticipate the chambers to reach a budget agreement within the next two weeks which would keep the legislature on track to conclude the short session by July 1.
The Senate gave final approval to S711, NC Compassionate Care Act. The legislation would legalize the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients with a debilitating medical condition. On Monday, the bill passed third reading on the Senate floor (36-7) with 1 Democrat and 6 Republicans voting against the measure. The bill has been sent to the House for consideration.
This week, the House passed S448, Amendments to Schedule VI of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The bill would remove Marijuana and THC derived prescription drugs that have received approval from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), from Schedule VI of the CSA. The North Carolina Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services could submit objections to any decision that comes from the FDA. House proponents made it clear in their discussions this was not marijuana legalization and dealt with prescription drugs already approved by the FDA. The bill passed third reading in the House on Wednesday (92-9) and has been sent to the Governor.
On Tuesday, the House Banking Committee discussed H1039, Medical Debt De-Weaponization Act. Requested by the NC Department of State Treasurer, the bill would require hospitals and other large health care facilities and providers to disclose prices and financial assistance, provide minimum levels of free care, and prohibit certain collections practices. Facilities would have to adopt a written financial assistance policy (Medical Debt Mitigation Policy or MDMP) and provide free care for patients at 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The bill would give the Attorney General the authority of enforcement. No vote was taken on the legislation during the committee.
The House approved S671 this week. The proposed committee substitute (PCS) heard in the House Rules Committee would allow schools that provided full-time virtual instruction in the 2021-2022 school year to continue providing such instruction in the 2022-2023 school year and allow districts to opt for virtual learning days in the event of inclement weather. It would also authorize public school units to establish remote academies that meet certain requirements beginning in the 2023-2024 school year. The bill passed on the House floor Thursday with a vote of 73-22. It will be returned to the Senate for a concurrence vote.
Community Voice Tree Summit
Saturday I attended the Community Voice Tree Summit and provide remarks. There were 75 to 100 people in attendance. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:
“… Trees are a huge part of what makes Cary, Cary. Our trees shade us, feed us, clear our air and our water. In Cary 70% of the land is privately owned so our trees need our combined attention.
As you may know there have been tree plantings at town-owned sites to enhance our canopy such as those planted at Heater Park and Dorothy Park. Those plantings are to ensure we have a new generation of trees when the older trees mature and phase out. And that is our main focus, planning the next generation of Cary’s tree canopy.
We want to hear your thoughts, feedback, ideas and of course your questions. Everything expressed today will be considered as we create a plan to effectively manage the forest of our future here in Cary.
And while this plan will look out 10 years into our future, our trees will live and benefit our community well beyond that. So your ideas today will have a long impact. …”
I was in attendance for about an hour and a half.
Town Manager’s Report
The Town Manager’s Report for this week included the following:
Mayor and Council, I am pleased to confirm that Terry Sult has accepted our offer to serve as Cary’s fulltime Chief of Police, effective immediately.
As you know, Terry has an extensive operation and administrative background, bringing with him not one but three tours as a police chief in three states.
When we hired Terry 8 months ago as our interim chief, both he and we were certain that being interim would be the end of our relationship. But Terry found something in Cary he’d never seen before: our co-created culture, including your support, Council. Terry learned firsthand who we are and the remarkable community we serve, and so he asked to compete for the fulltime position. He wanted it so much that he’s coming out of retirement to have this experience, and we couldn’t be happier or more grateful.
I want to thank Renee Poole and Russ Overton for leading our extensive search and evaluation efforts. I also want to thank the dozen+ staff from police and other departments as well as the citizens who participated in candidate evaluation.
Please note, there won’t be a Council Weekly Report distributed next week. The next report will be shared on June 24.
May Quarterly Follow-Up
Following up on the environmental questions from the May quarterly, staff prepared two fact sheets and a recycling graphic. Details about the electric sanitation truck, including a comparation with the standard diesel truck, are available in the Electric Sanitation Truck Fact Sheet. Details about the compost produced from the food waste drop-off and distributed to Good Hope Farm are provided in the Food Waste Drop-off Fact Sheet . A draft version of a graphic regarding recycling has been prepared and is posted online here. The next recycling contract is scheduled for execution in early 2023 and updates to the graphic will be made at that time.
225 E. Park Street
Development Services has been in close contact with the demolition contractor for the house located on 225 E. Park Street. According to the demolition contractor, their plan is to demolish the house by the end of next week. Prior to beginning demolition of the house, the owner allowed the Police Department to use the house for training. The owner plans to rebuild on the property in the future.
Fire Celebrates 100th Anniversary
Fire celebrated its 100th anniversary this week beginning Friday evening by screening a movie on the lawn at the old library site with refreshments and family-friendly activities. A fire truck parade took place on Saturday followed by a street dance with a live band featuring a Fire retiree on bass guitar. Monday, all nine fire stations opened their doors for an open house that included station and apparatus tours, a new fire prevention video premiere, dinner cooked by the firefighters, and giveaways. At last night’s Council meeting, Mayor Weinbrecht shared a brief history of the Fire Department and presented a proclamation recognizing the 100th anniversary of Cary’s Fire Department. Battalion Chief Tracy Williams and Fire Chief Mike Cooper accepted the proclamation on behalf of the Department.
A final commemorative event is scheduled for June 25 at Bond Park with apparatus displays, demonstrations, obstacle courses for kids and adults, a band, a DJ, food and beer trucks, and other activities.
First Meeting of the Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force
On Tuesday, members of the Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force gathered together for their first meeting as a Task Force. The group learned how and why the task force came to be, began getting to know each other, and discussed what they look forward to achieving as a Task Force.
Cary Launches EBike Pilot Program on Greenways
On June 1, Cary launched a pilot to allow electric assisted bicycles (EBikes) on Cary greenways. This pilot allows us to test, listen, and learn. We are specifically interested in hearing from greenway users and are encouraging them to submit feedback through a survey so staff can determine if changing local ordinances to allow the use of EBikes on our greenway system would benefit Cary posted on signs along greenways across Cary.
We simultaneously have increased our messaging regarding travelling at safe speeds along the greenways and observing the 15mph speed limit. Pavement stickers and signs are being added to the longer and higher volume greenways.
The pilot will continue through December 31. Survey results and additional research is expected to be compiled and presented to Council in late fall.
The Carolina Composting Council invited Cary to speak at its annual meeting. Staff shared the success of the Food Waste Drop Off pilot program and how it fits into the existing framework of Cary’s composting culture that spans decades of education and outreach. Cary was joined by Toward Zero Waste Cary who shared about the value of community partnerships and their role in supporting Cary’s waste diversion efforts.
Also, staff toured New Hanover County’s compost facility to learn about the operations and its impact on waste diversion. The County uses an in-vessel composting system to turn municipal yard waste, commercial manure, and food waste from UNCW and a few commercial sites into compost that is available for free to residents. The tour was part of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Managing Composting Programs 3-day training.
The first of two Urban Forestry Master Plan outreach efforts launched recently with a tree workshop for Cary staff, area municipal experts, academics, and citizen representatives. The consultant, Urban Canopy Works, shared some technical results of their tree and canopy evaluation to date, and facilitated small group discussions that elicited ideas that will help inform the master plan. On June 11, the second outreach effort, the Community Voice Tree Summit, invites citizens at large to provide their feedback, ideas, and questions that will help inform the vision of Cary’s tree canopy.
Cary PD Cadets Graduate From the Police Academy
On June 9, three Cary Police Department (PD) cadets graduated from the police academy. Our cadets successfully completed 787 hours of intensive law enforcement training which includes topics and instructional methods required by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. Please join us in congratulating Justin Kosobucki, Devon Perillo, and Taylor Shealy on their completion of Wake Technical Community College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) Academy.
Crabtree Creek and Black Creek Sewer Rehab Update
The first phase of the Crabtree Creek & Black Creek Sewer Rehabilitation Project is approaching completion with additional lining work, manhole rehabilitation, and cleanup/restoration activities planned for the next few weeks before reopening the Crabtree Trail.
In the next phase, contractors will focus their efforts on rehabilitation of sewer lines along the Black Creek Greenway between West Dynasty Drive and North Cary Park, which will require a closure of this particular section. The remaining parts of Black Creek Greenway including those areas between North Cary Park and the Crabtree Creek Greenway will remain open during this next phase of the project.
Beginning June 16, signs notifying residents of the upcoming closure of the Black Creek Greenway between West Dynasty Drive and North Cary Park, as well as the corresponding greenway detour route, will be installed along the trail and at trailhead locations in the area.
Hybrid Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Advisory Board
Mon, June 13
Hybrid Information Services Advisory Board Meeting
Mon, June 13
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Mon, June 13
Hybrid Environmental Advisory Board
Tues, June 14
Hybrid Greenway Committee Meeting
Thurs, June 16
- Questions and complaints about gun violence
- A complaint about EMS response times
- Thanks to the Cary staff
- A complaint about a deck project delay
- A complaint about the town not monitoring water leaks appropriately with AquaStar
- A complaint about a traffic signal at Courland View and Mills Park Drive
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a Cary Chamber golf event, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board, Green Hope High School graduation, a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors, and a memorial service for Fellas Bond.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Saturday, June 18th. 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.