Ivey-Ellington House Moved, Wake County Mayors, Town and State Dinner, Panel Discussion, and Council-Staff Retreat

Ivey-Ellington House Move

Monday morning I joined dozens of people to watch the move of the Ivey-Ellington house to its new location on the old library site. I had the honor of meeting and talking with members of the Ivey family who were attending the move.

While the move took about four hours, I was only able to watch the move for two. During that time, it went from its starting location at 204 Academy Street (moved there on February 17th from Chatham) to its new location at 308 Academy Street. The move was a success with no loss of trees or damage to the house.

Wake County Mayors Association

Monday night I hosted a meeting of the Wake County Mayors in Fenton. Attending were mayors from Apex, Cary, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wendell, and Zebulon. We were given a tour of Fenton by the General Manager which was followed by dinner at Colletta’s. Our monthly roundtable discussion included whether or not we provided an annual address, and if we were having an annual retreat. All municipalities in Wake County have had or will be having an annual retreat. This is not necessarily the case for some municipalities in North Carolina. Our meeting, including the tour, lasted about three hours.

Town Manager One-On-One

Tuesday morning the town manager and I reviewed the items for the annual staff-council meeting (retreat). Even though we were meeting for two days it was hard to imagine we would complete the agenda.

NCLM Town and State Dinner

Wednesday I joined council member Johnson in attending the 5th Annual North Carolina League of Municipalities Town and State Dinner at the Raleigh Convention Center. There was about an hour for mingling where I had the opportunity to meet and talk with other mayors and elected officials from across the state. During dinner I was honored to sit with such great legislators as Dan Blue. It is my hope that one day the legislature will figure out how to work as one united body with a common goal rather than a group divided by partisan politics.

TCC Mayors Panel

Thursday Morning, I joined Mayor O’Neal of Durham and Mayor Gilbert of Apex for a panel discussion hosted by Triangle Community Coalition in Brier Creek. Most of the questions were focused on Economic Development and impacts on Economic Development. Mayor O’Neal talked about homelessness, crime, and a variety of other issues that aren’t as severe in Cary and Apex as they are in Durham. While our issues and priorities may be different, it is very important for all communities to work together and listen to each other’s issues. In an effort to build and strengthen relationships with our neighboring municipalities, Cary’s council will be meeting with councils from Apex and Morrisville in the upcoming weeks.

NC Metro Mayors

The North Carolina Metro Mayors met on Friday morning to hear about legislative actions. Here is a summary of legislative actions by KTS Strategies:

Medial Marijuana

S3, NC Compassionate Care Act, passed the Senate Judiciary and Senate Finance Committees this week. The bill would legalize medical marijuana for qualified patients with a debilitating medical condition. Several amendments were offered and approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee. To increase access in rural areas, one amendment would require each supplier to operate at least one medical cannabis center in a Tier 1 County. It also directs the Medical Cannabis Production Commission to consider priority to suppliers committed to ensuring equitable distribution of medical cannabis centers. The bill has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee. We anticipate the bill to be heard on the Senate floor next week.

Gun Legislation

The House passed two pieces of legislation related to firearms – H50, Pistol Purchase Permit Repeal and H72, Firearm Safe Storage Awareness Initiative. H50 would remove the requirement to obtain a pistol purchase permit from the sheriff’s office prior to the purchase or receipt of a pistol. Criminal background checks would still be required prior to purchase of a pistol from a federally licensed dealer. The bill passed along party lines (67-48).

H72 directs the Department of Public Safety, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Wildlife Resources Commission to work collaboratively to create a two-year firearm safety program. The goal of the program would be to educate the public on safe storage of firearms and to facilitate the distribution of gun locks. The bill passed on Wednesday with a vote of 111-4.

Last week, the Senate passed S41, Guarantee 2nd Amendment Freedom and Protections. This bill includes the pistol purchase permit repeal language and firearm safe storage awareness initiative the House passed. Additionally, S41 would authorize concealed carry for certain law enforcement facility employees and authorize carrying a handgun in a place of religious worship that is also educational property under certain conditions. The bill passed along party lines (29-19).

Council-Staff Retreat

On Thursday the council traveled to Wilmington for two days of meetings with staff. Six members of council met Thursday night for dinner in which we were not allowed to talk about Cary business. We spent the time learning about each other’s backgrounds and families.

The retreat started Friday morning with a reflection on our shared successes. This was followed by an icebreaker and manager’s vision for the retreat.

Our featured speaker for the morning session was former Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall. His talk was an insight into North Carolina Local Governments, their governmental issues, and organizational issues.

The afternoon session began with the Council’s role in intergovernmental relations. This discussion focused on good governance, partnerships, and building relationships with legislators and other municipalities.

The last session on Friday was a prioritizing exercise for six major upcoming projects without considering funding. We prioritized, discussed, and then re-prioritized.

The future Walnut Street greenway and linear park from downtown to Fenton and beyond received the highest votes, followed by the Mills Park Community Center,

the Cary Tennis Park expansion, the Centre at South Hills, the Earnest Jones property, and the Wake Med Soccer Park. This prioritization exercise was not a decision on what would happen first but to gage interest of council members about projects.

Saturday started with a group picture. Afterwards we heard from our keynote speaker, Joe Watson, whose business is to advise and coach senior leaders in the areas of leadership, relationship building, and credibility strengthening. His presentation included lots of Q&A and discussion.

The next session was on council policy and the several segments on the future.

Under future impacts things like land availability, new tax base, changing preferences, technical problems, and adaptive challenges will have more of an influence on our future decisions.

We discussed our ever-evolving plans. Current plans under revision include our sustainability and climate plan, the open space master plan, the urban forestry master plan, and our solid waste master plan. One interesting point made in this discussion was that 10% to 15% of all Cary incorporated land is under town control. Next we discussed the Engage Plan which includes the historic preservation plan, the bike plan, and the parks, recreation, and cultural resources plan. And all plans impact the Imagine Cary 2.0 which is also being revised.

Recycling and curbside pickup was discussed next. Council had a strong desire to have curbside pickup for compost materials, so staff agreed to implement a pilot program. The council also expressed a desire to have textiles picked up curbside. Staff mentioned that running two pilots at one time would be confusing so that will be delayed for a while.

Current infrastructure priorities were presented to council to make sure priorities haven’t changed. It was pointed out that infrastructure means everything that is a service. One new service will include CASSI which is an autonomous vehicle that will operate in Bond Park.

The afternoon session on the last day was Designing a Community for the Future. First we talked about “newish” projects which included the Graffiti Bar, the WalkUp Bar, the RBF Champaign Bar, the Ivey-Ellington House move for the future Jordan mixed use, the Meridian, the future Meridian at Hunter Street, the future Rogers Parking Deck which will be next to The Rogers, the proposed NW Cary development at O’Kelly Chapel Road, and the South Hills development with the Centre. Next, we talked about visions for Kildaire Farm Road which are being planned. This is important because Kildaire Farm redevelopment should fit into an overall plan rather than being piece meal.

The last session of the retreat was Looking Ahead. In our first discussion it was pointed out that town hall’s campus has many old buildings, is not meeting the citizens’ demands, and is underutilized land. We were shown a vision of one developer that used the land for a mixed use and included a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks to Cedar Street. At the recommendation of staff, council unanimously approved a motion to issue a RFQ (Request for Quote) next month for town hall campus.

Our last discussion was about a parking deck next to the Rogers development. We were shown a concept of how the deck might look. After much discussion, Council unanimously approved a motion to appropriate money so that the developers of the Rogers could build the parking deck. The deck will be designed with aesthetics in mind.

While we covered a LOT of information in the two days of the retreat we didn’t get to everything on the agenda. We will discuss the remaining items at a work session on March 22nd.

Mayor’s Mailbox

  • A complaint about the safety at the intersection of Waldo Rood and Davis Drive.
  • A complaint about “kids revving cars” at a Bojangles and a Sheets near Tryon Road.
  • A complaint about Google Fiber contractors digging up yards.
  • Kudos to our Cary Police for how they handled the standoff even though it ended with a tragic death.
  • A complaint about not being able to get a conference room in Cary libraries.
  • A request to have a miniature golf course downtown.

Next Week

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a CAMPO Commuter Rail Subcommittee meeting, an Economic Development Committee meeting, a presentation to the Heart of Cary Association, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 5th, 2023. 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.

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