This week was another slow summer week for mayoral activities.
New Pool at TAC
Monday started with an event celebrating the new 50-meter outdoor pool at TAC (Triangle Aquatic Center). I along with several others provided remarks. The following is an excerpt from my remarks:
“… During the last 15 years it has been amazing to watch the growth of TAC and how it changed to meet the needs of our area. And not only has it meet the needs, but it has also produced some of the best swimmers in the world including 3 Olympians and 2 Paralympians at the last Tokyo games in 2021. Those five talented athletes brought home a combined 7 medals, including 4 Gold, 2 Bronze, and 1 Silver to Cary. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Cary is proud to have a strategic partnership with TAC. The focus and programming to promote aquatic health, safety, and competition for Cary citizens and surrounding communities is invaluable. And we are so grateful that TAC sponsors the Make-A-Splash program, which allows financially disadvantaged families the opportunity to receive free swim lessons.
I am proud that TAC chooses to call Cary home. As one of the top aquatic centers in the United States it provides over $10 million in economic benefit from its swim meets. With this newest addition of the 50-meter pool and future expansions, I know TAC will continue doing and offering so much to our community. …”
The event was completed with members of the TAC Titans jumping in and beginning their practice.
Town Manager One-On-One
Later Monday I met with the town manager and the parks director for my weekly one-on-one. Topics included future opportunities with our sport venues, potential plans for the 217-park site, tennis center expansion, using trolleys in downtown, and the downtown park schedule. Based on current information we are hopeful that the downtown park fountain will be back on in December. If construction remains on schedule the downtown park should open next summer. Our meeting lasted about twenty minutes.
Police Chief Sult Sworn In
Tuesday I joined the majority of the council for the official swearing of our new police chief Terry Sult. I, along with others, provided remarks. The chief was sworn in by NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. Chief Sult had his badge pinned by his son who also has a career in policing.
Jack Smith Campaign Event
Thursday I attended a campaign event for Jack Smith. It has been my practice only to endorse incumbent council members though I am always willing to talk with and help all other candidates.
NC Metro Mayors Meeting
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. The following is a summary from the Executive Director:
- Overall, not an overly active legislative session. There were a lot of conversations around some major policy items, but nothing came to fruition (exception is transportation – see below).
- Two major items were sports betting and medical cannabis. Sports betting failed on the House floor 50-51 and the House Republican Caucus could not get the support need to move forward with medical cannabis.
- We expect these two policy items to continue in 2023. As the legislature continues to lean in on efforts to decrease the income and corporate tax rates, these two items remain as important options to raise revenue for the State.
Budget – H103/SL2022-74
- The budget passed with large bi-partisan support in both chambers and was signed by Governor Cooper on Monday, July 11.
- The Governor had originally said he would veto if Medicaid expansion was not included. However, the House and Senate have indicated they remain committed to reaching a deal on Medicaid expansion. We anticipate the legislature could address expansion in their December session.
- There were a lot of things not included in the budget which is a good thing for cities – issues we could be in defensive postures on. For example, no cuts to transit/SMAP or Powell bill funding (perennial concerns).
- Commercial Service Airports received an additional $25 million in recurring funding, bringing the total to $100 million per year.
- Sales Tax Revenue Transfer – Section 42.3, Page 190 – MAJOR PRIORITY for Metro Mayors
- MMC submitted letter of support for the concept of using STATE SALES tax revenue for transportation – S793
- S793 was included in the budget – the provision directs STATE sales tax revenues for transportation needs. It redirects 2 percent of sales tax revenue to the Highway Fund for transportation purposes, increasing to 4 percent in 2023 and 6 percent in subsequent years (est. $628m in 2024).
- Water/Sewer Infrastructure Funds – Section 12.9, Page 127
- Provides a total of $883 million for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
- Sales tax revenue transfer (See budget provision above)
- Traffic Crash Investigators – H1011, Greenville/Wilmington Traffic Investigators & H1024, Durham Traffic Crash Investigators
- The bills would authorize the cities to use traffic investigators to investigate traffic accidents involving property damage. The City of Fayetteville and City of Wilmington were granted authority to employ Civilian Traffic Investigators in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
- Both bills received good hearings in House Committees. There is work to be done in the Senate.
- MMC needs to consider developing a strategy for the long session and consider what other cities may be interested in creating this authority.
- We need to have conversations from a public safety perspective and debunk the idea this is a way to defund the police. It would be helpful to get police chiefs involved to educate legislators on this issue (successful strategy fir Greenville and Durham).
- H291 – Commercial Prop. Plan Review
- The bill passed the full House (79-33) and the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee but did not advance further.
- The bill would have created a 21-day timeline to approve plans filed for commercial developments and likely create unintended consequences such as lengthening the approval process instead of expediting.
Local Control/Local Revenues
- Annexation/Deannexation Issues – H1165, Salisbury Voluntary Annex. Temp. & S911, Leland Annexation Moratoria
- These local bills are just two examples of the types of legislation dealing with annexation that are surfacing more and more at the General Assembly and could potentially come as a statewide set of circumstances.
- This is a complicated subject around fiscal issues and urban development that we need to work on educating both the legislature and our colleagues in the counties.
- Next session, we need to be more proactive in bringing solutions to leadership, so we are “at the table, instead of on the plate.”
- Beau has had conversations with NCLM staff about this issue – NCLM Strategic Communications team is working on the relationship between water and sewer and annexation and it will continue to be a topic for us to be engaged on. Educating legislators on the complexities of this issue needs to be a priority.
- S372/SL2022 -11, Electrical Lic./Bldg. Code/Dev. Reform 2022
- This was driven by the Homebuilders Association, and we expect more to come in 2023.
- Section 9 requires local governments to designate a person responsible for the daily oversight of the local government’s duties and responsibilities under GS 160D-1104 (building code inspection department). It also requires local governments to publish an annual financial report on how it used fees the previous year for its building code enforcement program.
- Section 10 would expressly prohibit a zoning or development regulation from setting a maximum parking space size larger than nine feet wide by twenty feet long, unless the parking space is a handicap, parallel, or diagonal parking space.
- H211/SL 2022-49, Social District/Common Area Clarifications (Bill Summary)
- Sections 1-4 recodify and revise the statutes related to common area entertainment permits and social districts to make them more uniform and clarify the areas that can be included under a common area entertainment permit or a social district.
- Section 5 (added in the Senate as a floor amendment in the last days of session) clarifies that a real property owner denied water or sewer service to property subject to an annexation agreement between local governments is allowed to seek other service or petition the court for relief.
- H768/SL 2022-44, ABC Omnibus
- Section 6 amends the “private bar” definition to eliminate the membership requirement.
The meeting lasted just over thirty minutes.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week includes the following:
It was great to end the week with my monthly update on the Downtown Park with Manager Joy Ennis. Joy is doing a great job balancing all the activities and interests while building an excellent team to implement the vision for this historic project for our downtown. The Gathering Place is beginning to go vertical, and the elevated walkway has been erected. The project remains on schedule for a summer 2023 opening – so exciting!
I look forward to attending and seeing several of you at the Chamber’s Annual Planning Conference in Pinehurst next week.
Enjoy your weekend.
Installation of Historic Signage
A new sign has been placed near the back southeast corner of the Hillcrest Cemetery. Last year, Cary applied for and received a placemaking grant in the amount of $1,500 from the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors (RRAR). The idea behind the grant project was to recognize Cary’s first African American Church site within the downtown area. The church, Cary First Christian, built their original structure in 1883. The structure no longer stands; however, remnants of the church remain and are located along the future Higgins Greenway trail. Current members of the Cary First Christian church and the Friends of Page-Walker collaborated with staff to research and compile the area’s rich history. Grant funds were then used to design and install educational signage that calls attention to this historic location, creating a place for residents and visitors to learn and reflect on Cary’s past. The signage is currently located in Hillcrest Cemetery and will be moved to its permanent location along the Greenway once construction is completed. A PDF version of the sign can be viewed here.
Chief of Police Oath of Office Ceremony
On Tuesday, Chief Terry Sult took the Oath of Office, becoming Cary’s 14th Chief of Police. Chief Sult was appointed in October 2021 to serve as Cary’s Interim Chief. Following a nationwide search, Town Manager Sean Stegall announced that Sult would serve as Cary’s newest Chief of Police. Special thanks to N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall for administering the Oath of Office to Chief Sult.
Bond Park Challenge Course Participation
The Bond Park Challenge Course has been very busy this summer, providing adventures and leadership development programs for several public and private groups.
A few notable visitors include:
- Town of Cary Fire Academy 26
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy
- Town of Cary Specialized Recreation & Inclusion
- Governor Morehead School of the Blind
We are excited to continue collaborating with organizations and share our passion for leadership.
Norwell Boulevard Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements
Improvements have been made to pedestrian and bicycle access on Norwell Boulevard between Weston Oaks Court and North Cary Park. Improvements include pavement resurfacing, new pavement markings, and flexible delineators to designate bicycle lanes on both sides of Norwell Boulevard. In addition, curb ramps were upgraded to current ADA standards.
The enhancements to Norwell Boulevard will improve bicycle and pedestrian access along this corridor, which will serve as part of the detour route for the Black Creek Greenway during sewer rehabilitation and upcoming renovation of the Black Creek Greenway.
CAWTF Water Production Update
Recent dry conditions and high temperatures led to the highest water production of the year at the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility (CAWTF). The 30.7 million gallons of treated water produced on July 7 was just shy of last August’s all-time record. While the Triangle has been inching toward drought conditions, water levels at Jordan Lake have remained fairly steady and have been increased by recent rainfall. Due to careful planning and optimization, the 56-MGD rated CAWTF has the treatment capacity needed to meet the needs of our citizens now and many years into the future.
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meetings
Neighborhood meetings will be held virtually on WebEx from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. on August 3. The following cases will be discussed:
- 22-REZ-12 Brookstone HOA
- 22-REZ-13 Kanoy Property
- 22-REZ-14 Carpenter Fire Station @ Highcroft PDD
For more information and to register visit the Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting page.
Hybrid Public Art Advisory Board
Wednesday, July 20
- A request for information about Walker Street issues.
- A notification from a citizen that Cary was ranked #1 among the 20 Safest Cities in America by Wall Street.
- A complaint about racism at a laundry mat in Cary.
- A suggestion to install benches in the shade next to the sand boxes at Carpenter Park.
- A thanks to our police department for cross walk enforcement on South Academy Street.
- A request about the status on the Chapel Hill Road study.
- A request to connect sidewalks for Birkhaven in Lochmere.
- A complaint about the town manager not responding to an issue in time.
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, an event with NC Insurance Commissioner Causey, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, dance practice for Diwali, and the Cary Chamber Planning Conference.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 24th. 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 email@example.com.