Town Manager One-On-One
Monday I met with the town manager briefly to go over a few items. Topics included the CASSI pilot at Bond Park that was partially funded by NCDOT, and a potential new pickleball center at the Cary Tennis Park.
Monday I watched a taped presentation of the S Line. The S-Line is a freight rail line, owned by CSX, that connects Richmond, Virginia, to Tampa, Florida. A portion of the former Seaboard Air Railroad mainline, North Carolina and Virginia are purchasing the right of way for the S-line between Petersburg, Virginia, and Raleigh, North Carolina, to grow freight and passenger rail services.
The S Line was originally designated in 1992. Interest and funding lagged for years. Now there is a renewed effort by the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) to create a high-speed rail with speeds of 110 mph from Raleigh to Washington, D.C. In 2020 funds were granted to begin the purchase of the corridor. In 2022 funds were granted for surveys and mobility hubs. The criteria for additional funding would require commitments to build transit-oriented development along the routes. A $220 million Siemens facility to build the latest version of commuter trains will be in Lexington.
ATC Board Meeting
Monday night I participated in a two-hour meeting of the Atlantic Tire Championships Board. We talked about the future expansion of the Cary Tennis Park for about an hour. The remainder of the time was spent discussing items related to this year’s tournament.
Tuesday morning I was joined by council member Eades for the official opening of the CASSI (Connected Autonomous Shuttle Supporting Innovation) pilot at Bond Park that will run through June 2nd. I provided remarks in addition to NC Secretary of Transportation Boyette and a representative of BEEP who built and maintains the vehicle. My remarks included the following:
“… groundbreaking project is poised to revolutionize the way we think about transportation and technology.
… CASSI is a powerful symbol of our commitment to a greener, cleaner future. By using electric power, CASSI will reduce our city’s carbon footprint and help to mitigate the effects of climate change. This is a critical goal, and I am proud that our city is leading the way in this effort.
… Today we may view this vehicle as unique and unusual. By the time my one-year-old grandson is my age he may view steering wheels and people driving cars as unique and unusual. …”
The event was attended by dozens of people including Cary staff who worked hard to make this a reality. Also attended were others who helped get this pilot going. WRAL and CBS17 covered the event.
Later Tuesday I provided remarks to several dozen young men and women participating in the Cary Chambers Youth Leadership Day. My remarks included the type of governments in various states (Dillons versus Home Rule), the types of council structures (strong mayor versus council-manager), various leadership styles, and the type of decisions we make in Cary. Afterwards, I answered a few questions, took a group picture, and several selfies.
The meeting included six consent items, one public hearing, and three discussion items. One consent item included a DCHC MPO (Durham Chapel Hill Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization) MPO project swap with CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) which will fund and advance four projects including the Trinity Road Railroad Grade Separation project in Cary. The consent items were approved unanimously.
Amendment #11 to the Fiscal Year 2020-2029 Transportation Improvement Program was approved pending no negative comments.
The meeting also included presentations on the 2025-2025 Wake Bus Plan, the draft Fiscal Year 2024 Wake Transit Work Plan, and an update on the Rapid Bus Extension Major Investment Study.
The meeting concluded after about an hour.
Wake County Sheriff
Thursday morning I had the pleasure of sitting down with the Wake County Sheriff, Willie Rowe, for about half an hour. We pledged to build stronger relationships and communications between our organizations. We discussed our thoughts on the future and the challenges we will face. I look forward to working with Sheriff Rowe.
State of Cary – Glenaire
Thursday afternoon I presented an updated version of the State of Cary address to about 100 residents of the Glenaire retirement community. After the presentation Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz, who is also their district representative, joined me at the podium to answer questions. Several concerns were expressed including crossing Cornwall Road to the new buildings and the closing of department stores in Cary such as Belk at the old Cary Town Center.
Cary Matters with Ryan Eades
Thursday evening I joined our newest council member, Ryan Eades, in the April taping of Cary Matters. We used the episode to introduce Ryan to the public and talk about the Count Me in, Cary campaign. It was a long episode, and we did two entire takes followed by additional takes of certain segments.
County Me in, Cary
This is our campaign to “explore the impacts of a changing climate, identify challenges and opportunities, and implement solutions that work for us.” Over the coming months, we are assessing potential initiatives and our community’s contribution to climate change and the environment. There are six surveys that focus on a variety of topics that will be available from now through the end of summer. Your feedback will help create strategies for action. So please take the surveys.
North Carolina Metro Mayors
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of legislative actions for this week from KTS Strategies:
Governor’s Budget Proposal
Governor Cooper released his recommended biennial budget for FY 2023-2025 on Wednesday. The proposal includes an average 18 percent teacher raise over the biennium, maintains the corporate tax rate at 2.5 percent, and implements an 8 percent raise for all state employees over the biennium. The plan would also allocate over $1 billion for mental health, $1.5 billion in new funding for childcare and early childhood education needs, and $6.8 billion in reserves.
House and Senate leadership characterized the Governor’s proposal as “reckless.” As part of his full response, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) stated, “Governor Cooper’s budget proposal takes the same reckless approach to spending that his fellow Democrats have taken in Washington. Unfortunately, this kind of runaway spending has resulted in a failing economy that has left millions of Americans behind.” You can read Senator Berger’s statement on the budget proposal here.
The Governor’s proposed budget is the first official step in the state budget process. The legislature alternates in which chamber the budget starts every biennium. This year, the House will begin the process. The House has already been working on their proposal and plans to have their version passed in early April. The Senate will then pass their version (likely in May) and the two chambers will 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 Senate considered S189, Fentanyl Drug Offenses and Related Changes. The bill would increase the fines for trafficking heroin, fentanyl, or carfentanil from a baseline of $50,000 to $500,0000. It would also provide limited criminal immunity to someone who possesses less than one gram of any controlled substance if the person is seeking medical assistance for an overdose and establish a new Task Force on Enforcement of Fentanyl and Heroin Drug Violations. S189 passed unanimously on the Senate floor Tuesday. This bill is one of many that have been filed so far this year related to the opioid epidemic. We anticipate additional measures to address the crisis to be considered this session.
This week, the House considered S41, Guarantee 2nd Amendment Freedom and Protections. This bill 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 would also 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. Additionally, it would create a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative to educate the public about safe firearm storage, facilitate the distribution of gun locks, and provide local communities with a toolkit to launch local firearm safe storage initiatives.
The bill moved through the House Judiciary and Rules Committees this week. On Wednesday, it passed on the House floor (70-44) with three Democrats voting in favor. It will now head to the Governor for consideration. We anticipate the Governor to veto the bill.
The meeting concluded in half an hour.
Town Manager’s Report
I remain present with the knowledge that I first became known to Cary from my work developing Elgin’s 311 with Dan Ault. So it was great for both Dan and me to see all of the activities this week marking National 311 Day in Cary.
311 Assistant Director Carolyn Roman shared important reminders with staff about how everyone plays an impactful role in helping the Town deliver great customer service to our citizens. For the public, Carolyn and Citizen Advocate Sammy Campbell joined other staff at the Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Leadership Day to talk about 311 as a service and how to use it to connect with Town Hall.
As construction wraps up in the new 311 Center, look for opportunities later this spring to visit the new space, listen in on calls, and meet our citizen advocates, who are illustrated above by one of our very talented citizen advocates, Bailie Pickering!
Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!
First Director Development Dialogue of 2023
On Monday, our directors gathered for the first in-person Director Development Dialogue of 2023. The dialogue focused on nuanced, challenging situations of leadership, with a particular emphasis on how to engage in difficult conversations with each other and teams. Through a combination of large and small group discussions, the group explored lessons learned from difficult conversations in the past, what can be done to make difficult conversations more productive, and how to navigate conflict and disagreement while preserving and even strengthening relationships.
Youth Leadership Cary
On Tuesday, 40 high school juniors participating in the Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Leadership Cary program, spent the day with Cary staff to learn about local government and potential career paths.
Hum Sub Basant Bahar
On Sunday, the Cary Arts Center came alive with Hum Sub’s annual Basant Bahar celebration. The focus of Basant Bahar is showcasing classical Indian traditions in music and dance. Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert, and Morrisville Mayor TJ Cawley, along with several Council members attended this year’s event. More than 200 performers demonstrated their unique and artistic talents for over 400 patrons who attended. Hum Sub partners with Cary to bring Diwali to Koka Booth Amphitheater each fall and Basant Bahar to the Cary Arts Center each spring.
Top Local Government Police Negotiators
Cary’s Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) competed in the 2023 Blue Ridge Negotiator’s Challenge hosted by the North Carolina Justice Academy. They competed against crisis negotiation teams from 14 agencies from across the country. The CNT earned 1st place for a municipality, and 3rd place recognition overall – behind two federal agencies. Teams were judged on several topics including active listening, team communication, structured brainstorming, intelligence and information management and documentation, risk assessments, and the managing of demands and deadlines.
Repair Café Spring 2023
Cary hosted the Repair Café last Saturday at Herb Young Community Center. The focus of this event is to divert materials from the landfill by repairing them for reuse by our citizens. Local “fix-it coaches” utilized their skills by providing repair service for various items that were brought in for service. Overall, 54 items were repaired with a successful repair rate of 70%.
American Public Works Association-NC Conference
Srijana Guilford, Waste Strategy and Community Impact Consultant, presented how Cary embraces technology to enhance communication and engagement with the community at the American Public Works Association-NC annual conference. This event brings together the NC Chapter divisions of Leadership & Management, Facilities & Grounds, Equipment Services, Solid Waste, Stormwater Management, and Streets for training sessions focused on technology, leadership, and career development in Public Works.
2023 Summer Camp Registration
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Summer Camp registration opened for Cary residents on Monday. Residents responded in force with almost 5,000 registrations processed, ensuring summer camp fun. This year’s registration numbers saw a 55% increase compared to last year. While the overwhelming response to camps was gratifying, it came with challenges. At times, the registration system was not able to keep up with the demand. Staff is working with citizens whose registrations did not process properly, doing whatever feasible to provide a fun summer.
Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge Pedestrian Fencing Complete
In response to safety concerns a father brought to staff’s attention regarding his son, Cary and NCDOT have worked together to install pedestrian fencing across the Carpenter Fire Station Road bridge over NC540. In addition to helping make the bridge safer for all users, staff was also able to learn more about this family and provide additional resources and opportunities through Cary’s Share and Care Program.
RFQ Consultant Selection: Wake BRT Western Corridor Station Area Planning
Cary and Raleigh are actively preparing for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor that will connect the two downtown areas. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded a grant to support Transit Oriented Development (TOD) planning work in the station areas along this corridor. A request for qualifications (RFQ) to select a consultant to lead this effort, released in early 2023, resulted in the selection of Skidmore Owings and Merrill to support this work. Raleigh Council will consider the authorization to negotiate contracts at their March 21 Council Meeting. No action is needed from the Cary Council at this time. If you have any questions, direct them to Transit Director Kelly Blazey.
Cary Compost Classes
Interest in composting in Cary continues to grow. More than 200 Cary residents participated in the biannual Compost Giveaway Workshops at Good Hope Farm. Along with instructions on how to start backyard composting, guests received bags of finished compost, guidebooks, and tips for growing greener gardens. Participants toured Good Hope Farm and learned firsthand how compost is a fundamental aspect of regenerative agriculture. Participants were able to see how the scraps they take to the Drop-off Food Waste Recycling program can become part of the soil at Good Hope Farm.
Economic Development Committee
March 21 at 12:00 p.m.
|Council Meeting Work Session|
March 22 at 5:30 p.m. Cultural Arts Committee
March 22 at 6:00 p.m. Council Meeting
March 23 at 6:30 p.m.
- A comment about the Repair Café
- A question on who’s Cary’s Public Transit Planner
- A complaint about getting a permit
- A complaint and more than a dozen questions about a 2021 Mask Up Cary Campaign
- A complaint that GoCary would be more efficient if it were door-to-door
- A complaint about pan handling in Cary
- A complaint that someone was smoking in a park
- A compliment of the State of Cary address at Glenaire
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting with a local artist, a Wake County Mayors Association meeting, an Economic Development workshop, a council work session, a joint CAMPO & DCHC MPO meeting about commuter rail, the last regularly scheduled council meeting of March, a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors, a celebration recognizing 30 years of Cary Sister Cities, and a Wake County Mayors Association outing.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 26th, 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 email@example.com.