HIRD Meeting, Council Meeting, WRAL interview, and Basant Bahar

Council Meeting Prep

Monday I attempted to contact council members to hear of concerns or questions about Thursday’s meeting agenda. The only questions were related to the road renaming discussion for Green Level West Road.

Later Monday I met with management and directors to go over the agenda. Based on the items, it appeared the meeting would be short.

Town Manager One-On-One

My last meeting Monday was with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We had a quick debrief of the recent council-staff retreat. We also talked about the upcoming work session on March 22nd when we will discuss affordable housing and the E-Bike pilot.

Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force Meeting

Tuesday evening I attended a meeting of the Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force. The meeting started with a discussion on pride month and what could be done to help inform the LGBTQ+ community of safe places.

The task force spent the remainder of the meeting providing ideas for the definition of their three pillars: Access, Public Safety, and Relationships & Community Engagement.

As the liaison, I provided information on current activities within the town such as Cary 101, Basant Bahar, and CASSI at Bond Park. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and forty minutes.

Council Meeting

Thursday the council held its first regularly scheduled council meeting of March. The agenda included a presentation, six consent items, one public hearing, and one discussion item. The consent agenda was approved unanimously.

The meeting started with a presentation from the CAP (Citizens Assisting Police) team who are graduates of the Citizen Police Academy. They assist police in several activities including public events, child safety seat installations, clerical duties, service staffing, promoting community watch, and more. The save us thousands of dollars every year with their valuable services. They presented a check representing the dollar amount saved by their work which was well over $100,000. Thank you CAP team!

The public hearing was for the annexation of a 32.92-acre parcel located in the southwest quadrant of the Mills Road and Green Level Church Road intersection and of an adjoining 6.01-acre parcel located at 7824-7828 Emery Gayle Lane. Since the properties were in our ETJ (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction), the rezonings (21-REZ-07 and 21-REZ-19) were approved without the need for an annexation which is usually prior. The approval of this annexation was unanimous.

The discussion item was whether or not to direct staff to start a process of renaming Green Level West Road to High House. The renaming would be from Highway 55 to Green Level Church Road. The council asked the staff to begin this process which will include an investigation, public hearings, and more.

The council meeting concluded in less than an hour.

NC Metro Mayors

Friday morning I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors where we discussed legislative actions. Here is a summary of legislative actions for the week from KTS Strategies:

Budget Update

On Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced an agreement on total spending for the 2023-2024 state budget. Leadership has agreed to a 6.5 percent increase in the first year and 3.75 percent in the second year. Based on last year’s spending numbers, this is an approximate $2.8 billion increase. This year’s budget process will begin in the House. The current goal is for the House to have their version of the budget completed by the first week of April. The Senate will then complete their version before the two chambers negotiate in a conference committee to finalize the final proposal. The goal is to have a budget completed before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. 

State of the State

Governor Cooper delivered his State of the State address on Monday night. The Governor acknowledged the State’s great economic success and commended the bipartisan accomplishments of state leadership, including an agreement on Medicaid expansion. He also voiced the need for the General Assembly to invest in childhood education based on the still ongoing Leandro case and urged against more corporate tax cuts. Governor Cooper also announced a comprehensive behavioral health plan that was officially released on Wednesday.

Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson delivered the Republican response. Lt. Governor Robinson touted the accomplishments of the NC General Assembly under Republican leadership. He also emphasized the importance of the state’s workforce, education, and law enforcement. His full response can be viewed here.

Medicaid Expansion

The legislature’s Medicaid expansion deal was presented to the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday. The Senate gutted and amended the original House plan (H76, Access to Healthcare Options). The bill would do the following:

  • Provide Medicaid coverage through NC Health Works to adults aged 18-64 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level;
  • Enact various workforce development measures to promote employment among Medicaid enrollees; 
  • Remove the following from certificate of need review:
    • Psychiatric beds and facilities;
    • Chemical dependency treatment beds and facilities;
    • Replacement equipment up to $3 million, indexed to inflation;
    • Aggregate total of $3 million for all the equipment at a diagnostic center that individually exceeds $10,000; 
    • Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment services to children under age 21 at home health agencies in compliance with federal law.
  • Exempt ambulatory surgical centers and MRI machines in counties with a population greater than 125,000 from certificate of need review.

The Medicaid expansion provision would be contingent on passage of the state budget. The bill was approved by the Senate Health and Finance Committees this week. We anticipate the bill to pass in both chambers next week.

WRAL Interview on LBGTQ+ Crime

Friday afternoon I was interviewed by WRAL about vandalization and stealing of LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter flags on Greenwood Forest Baptist Church property. I expressed disappointment that this happened in Cary since we are such a loving and caring community that embraces everyone. I also let them know that we will not tolerate these crimes and that the perpetrators will be prosecuted. I added that even though are welcoming community we are looking for ways to improve with our Human Relations, Inclusion, Diversity task force which meets monthly.

White Oak Community Center Visit

Friday evening I joined Council member Johnson, Council member Bush, Assistant Town Manager Widmar, and Housing and CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) Manager Mansa in a visit to the White Oak Foundation center. We heard about all the programs and all the great achievements they have made to the citizens in our community including a day care which is under construction. In addition we listened to a proposal about affordable housing units for purchase that they plan to build in the future. Within the next year they plan to build 30 townhomes. Afterwards, they plan to build age restricted multi-family units. We talked about possible ways to partner to add affordable housing in this area. It is a blessing that we have the White Oak Foundation in Cary.

Basant Bahar

Sunday afternoon I provided welcoming remarks at the Basant Bahar celebration at the Cary Arts Center. Mayor Cawley from Morrisville and Mayor Gilbert from Apex were in attendance along with Cary Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz, council member Eades, council member Johnson, and council member Bush. We were first treated to classical Indian music supported by the Cary Concert singers. That was followed by a clap/stomp routine which combined classical Indian dancers along with Hip Hop type dancers. The following hours of music and dance were just as amazing. We are blessed to have such diversity in our community.

NCDOT Offramp Proposal

NCDOT is proposing a Crossroads Junction interchange project (I-40/I-440/US 1/US 64 interchange) project. You can view the three alternatives at https://publicinput.com/40-440-us1-interchange . This project is not currently in NCDOT’s 10-year work plan, called the STIP (State Transportation Improvement Plan). However, the STIP is updated every two years. The current draft 2024 – 2033 STIP, which is out for review, adds this project with a schedule design to build beginning in 2026. Residents of Wellington are upset that proposals have a removal of the sound wall protecting their neighborhood. There is a public meeting on March 14, from 4-7 pm, at Hope Community Church in Raleigh located on 821 Buck Jones Road. Cary staff will be present at this meeting and will comment on the noise wall. I would encourage citizens that are concerned about the NCDOT proposal to attend this meeting or make comments at https://publicinput.com/40-440-us1-interchange.

Soliciting in Cary

This week I was asked if No Soliciting signs are enforceable. Here is how the police chief responded:

“… Cary PD cannot enforce a no solicitation sign. Nor can we really enforce an HOA neighborhood no trespassing sign. However, we can enforce properly posted no trespassing signs on individual property. Enforcement can also occur if an individual has been personally warned prior and returns or refuses to leave your property after first being warned. …”

Town Manager’s Report

Sean’s Message

On Monday, I joined Council Member Ryan Eades, Shelley Curran, Jerry Jensen, and Nicole Coughlin for a ride on the Connected Autonomous Shuttle Supporting Innovation (CASSI) at Bond Park. The official ribbon cutting for the shuttle service is on Tuesday, March 14 at 9:00 a.m., at the Cary Senior Center, and we look forward to learning from riders about their experience during the pilot. 
Have a safe and relaxing weekend.

More Teslas on the Streets of Cary

Last week six Tesla model 3’s arrived in Cary. The additions to Cary’s electric fleet will be used by the Police and Utilities departments, and one will be available as a loner vehicle in the staff fleet pool. These will hit the streets of Cary in the next few weeks.

March Into Earth Day with Environmental Events

The Cary community is encouraged to grow green this spring through the March Into Earth Day campaign. Dozens of environmental events, celebrations, and workshops are taking place now through the end of April – when we celebrate Earth Day at Spring Daze in Bond Park. Participants can sign up for free compost, learn about backyard gardening, ask an arborist about tree care, and more through diverse opportunities designed to support Cary’s commitment to protecting our land, air, and water. The complete lineup of activities will be promoted through social media, printed materials, and the one-stop-shop webpage at www.carync.gov/green

2022 Annual Biosolids Report

Cary’s Water Reclamation Facilities (WRF) utilize thermal drying at both the South Cary and Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facilities for managing and treating biosolids, a nutrient-rich byproduct of wastewater treatment. Cary produces EPA-Certified, Class A Exceptional Quality biosolids by recovering valuable nutrients from the wastewater for beneficial reuse in a natural fertilizer and soil amendment product. In 2022, the North Cary and South Cary WRF together produced 3,825 dry tons and the Western Wake Regional WRF produced 2,697 dry tons of biosolids. Cary’s high-quality dried biosolids, known as Enviro-Gems are marketed to a vendor for use in the agribusiness industry. Read the entire 2022 Annual Biosolids Report  here.

Transit Signal Priority Pilot Underway for GoCary Buses

Cary’s Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) and GoCary are piloting Transit Signal Priority (TSP) on GoCary’s Route 5 along Kildaire Farm Road. Five GoCary buses have been outfitted and testing was completed this week. TSP adjusts the signals to prioritize GoCary buses when they are running late. TSP can be a powerful tool to improve reliability and travel time for riders. Riders regularly transfer buses at the Cary Depot. If a bus is more than 5 minutes late, riders could miss their transfer and have to wait an additional half hour. During the pilot, when a bus is running behind schedule, the traffic signals in the direction of travel adjust to change the light to green or hold the light green within set limits. This pilot is part of Cary’s Connected Vehicle project and Smart Cities initiative. Thank you to Transportation, GoCary and Public Works staff who have been collaborating on this system.

Bid Advertisement: FY23 Traffic Calming – Multiple Locations

Traffic engineering staff recently advertised to solicit contractor bids for the installation of new speed humps in several locations around Cary. A continuation of the FY23 traffic calming capital improvements, these devices are highly anticipated by the residents of the Picardy Pointe, Belmont and Brookstone subdivisions. Upon completion of the informal bid process and successful contractor selection later this month, work is anticipated to begin this Spring. 

North Carolina GIS Conference 2023

Since 1987, the NC Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Conference  has brought together professionals and academia to share in their experiences and learn about current trends and technologies affecting the GIS community. The conference is consistently one of the largest state GIS conferences in the nation. This year Transportation Engineer Amir Nezarati and Civil Designer Coray Davis were selected to present with Benesch on Cary’s Street Improvements Project. The 2023 conference was held in Winston-Salem, and the presentation focused on efforts to utilize GIS field collection programs for increased efficiency with GIS Technology to assist in analysis and decision making within our street improvement process. These systems are critical in maintaining quality roads for Cary citizens.

Public Meeting Hosted by NCDOT on March 14

NCDOT plans to redesign the I-40/I-440 and US 1/US 64 interchange and add additional lanes on I-40 between the interchange and Lake Wheeler Road to improve safety and traffic flow. For simplicity staff refers to NCDOT’s project as Crossroads Junction as this is the major crossroads of two interstate highways. This project is anticipated to begin construction in 2025.

Citizens can review NCDOT’s preferred design concept, ask questions and provide feedback online or in-person at the March 14 public meeting. The meeting is set for March 14 from 4-7 pm at Hope Community Church, 821 Buck Jones Road, Raleigh. If you cannot attend in-person, project information including, maps and a question/comment form are currently posted online at www.publicinput.com/40-440-us1-interchange.

It’s A Wrap

The relocation of the historic Ivey-Ellington House was a success! If you walk downtown this weekend, you will notice a new colorful fence wrap around the house. Featuring new Cary colors and architectural details of the house, this wrap will be recycled into tote bags once the project is complete. The site will remain active throughout the rehabilitation process, which is expected to begin in the coming months.

Other Municipalities Seek Assistance for Public Art Programs

Recently, our own Denise Dickens provided an overview of Cary’s Public Art Program to the Sanford City Council during their February retreat held in Cary. She has also been sharing information regarding the Public Art Program with the Director of Planning in Burgaw and Morrisville’s Planning Department.

It is exciting to see other cities in North Carolina looking to Cary as a model and great example of a Public Art Program that is integrating the thinking of artists into the design and creative placemaking of spaces Cary residents live, work and play!

Landscaping Installation

NCDOT and Cary are installing landscaping at the NC540 and Morrisville Parkway Interchange this spring. Over 450 trees will be installed in the roundabouts and medians on Morrisville Parkway as well as the loops and ramps leading from NC540 to Morrisville Parkway.

Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting – March 29, 2023

The Neighborhood Meeting will be held virtually on WebEx from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on March 29, 2023. The following case will be discussed:

For more information and to register visit the Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting page.

Upcoming Meetings

National Preservation Month Committee of HPC
March 13 at 7:00 p.m.

CASSI First Ride Event
March 14
9:00 a.m.

Environmental Advisory Board
March 14
6:00 p.m.

Public Art Advisory Board
March 15
6:15 p.m.

Greenway Committee
March 16
6:00 p.m.

Mayor’s Mailbox

  • A comment about the first phase of future commuter rail
  • A concern that the land, which includes a mobile home park, near Chatham and Maynard is being sold and that sale would eliminate affordable housing
  • A request to have a legacy bench installed at the lake next to Booth Amphitheater
  • A complaint about ticket fees at Koka Booth
  • A concern about future interchange improvements at US1 by NCDOT
  • A question about soliciting in Cary
  • A complaint that someone was smoking in a park

Next Week

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, an Atlantic Tire Championships Board meeting, the CASSI Ribbon Cutting, a Youth Leadership talk, A CAMPO Executive Board meeting, a meeting with the Wake County Sheriff, a State of Cary address at Glenaire, a taping of Cary Matters, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 19th, 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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