Kingswood Earth Day, South Hills, CAMPO, North Fulton County Visit, Indian Ambassador, and ACC Tennis Championships

Town Manager One-On-One

Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly meeting. Topics included South Hills redevelopment, the downtown park, and meeting with leaders in Wake County.

Youth Villages

Tuesday morning I joined council members Johnson and Bush at the Youth Villages’ Growing Strong Breakfast. We heard how important it is to help youth that turn 18 and are suddenly out of Foster Care. They find themselves discarding, living alone without support, resources, or guidance of a stable family or network of caring adults. Youth Villages help these youth. If you would like to find our more visit http://YouthVillages.org .

Kingwood Elementary Earth Day Fair

Tuesday evening I attended an Earth Day Fair at Kingswood Elementary in downtown Cary. Kingswood is a STEM school that uses Montessori techniques. The event was well attended with hundreds of people visiting all kinds of booths. I picked up a longleaf pine sapling which I later planted in my yard. Toward the end of my visit, I read a proclamation to the crowd with the help of the junior green team. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to future visits which will include the installation of a solar panel.

South Hills Project Page Goes Live

The project page for the South Hills Development went “live” on Cary’s website at the following link https://www.carync.gov/projects-initiatives/cary-community-plan/south-hills-development. The following is part of the press release from the developer:

A New Vision for South Hills

South Hills was once home to Cary’s first shopping center, a favorite family-friendly mall that helped propel the town’s growth in the mid-20th century. Today, the future of South Hills is being reimagined as a cultivated urban experience. A thoughtfully planned, walkable community with abundant community gathering spaces, pedestrian pathways, and convenient access to local greenway trails. South Hills promises to become a landmark destination for Cary and Triangle residents and visitors alike.

The vision: A vibrant, urban district that hosts concerts, sports tournaments, festivals, and special events year-round. Pedestrian and bicycle-oriented “living streets” lined with bustling coffee shops, local cafés and boutiques, and lively restaurants that serve as a social space to connect and engage. A unique blend of residences, offices, and hospitality that are seamlessly integrated to provide energy and activity throughout the day and night.

The Cary community and sports recreation center will serve as an anchor in the South Hills District.

Project Highlights

The South Hills District includes 44+ acres.

  • Urban experience, easily walkable, pedestrian-friendly
  • Mix of retail, food + beverage, residential, office, hospitality,
  • athletic, and event spaces

Developed by The South Hills Development Company, a joint venture of LODEN Properties and Northpond Partners. Partners include Perkins + Will (planning and architecture), McAdams (civil engineering), Kimley-Horn (traffic engineering), Morningstar Law Group (legal), Redgate (construction management) and Site Collaborative (development management).

CAMPO

Wednesday afternoon I participated in a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board held in their new offices at Fenton of Cary. The agenda included two consent items and five items for discussion. All the discussion items were informational and did not require a vote. Staff reports of the informational items can be found here. The presentation on the STIP (2024-2033 State Transportation Improvement Program) had significance for Cary. The Trinity Road Grade Separation which was removed has been put back in the STIP. This is crucial as Wake Med Soccer, and Fenton, continue to grow since it will allow access to Chapel Hill Road and I-40.

Cary Chamber Elected Officials Reception

Wednesday night I attended an elected official’s reception held by the Cary Chamber at the Umstead Hotel. I was joined by all the council members. Here is a portion of the remarks I spoke from:

“… I am proud to say that the partnerships we have between federal, state, and local elected officials and our Chamber are very strong and are vital to the success of our community. They enable us to provide the services and programs that our residents need and deserve.

Together, we have been able to invest in our infrastructure, improve public safety, and create new opportunities for economic growth. We have leveraged federal and state funding to build and improve our environment, housing, and transit. Together, we have created a version of Cary that shows a commitment to the environment while welcoming and supporting our business community.

As we move forward, we must continue to build upon our success by being creative, innovative, and inspirational in our efforts to support our economy, our citizens, and each other. …”

Attending the event were elected officials on the state level and local level. It was a great time to build relationships that will benefit Cary in the future.

North Fulton County Georgia Regional Chamber Visit

Thursday morning I participated in a panel discussion for a delegation from North Fulton County Georgia who were visiting Cary as part of an intercity visit. The panel included Cary Economic Development Director Ted Boyd, Cary Chief Development Officer Scot Berry, Cary developer Jordan Gussenhoven, and the President of MacKenan Property Group Kyle Greer. The delegation from Georgia included several chamber and business leaders in addition to elected officials and three mayors. The mayors included Jim Gilvin of Alpharetta, Peyton Jamison of Milton, and John Bradberry of Johns Creek. Their interests included:

  • How has Cary grown and changed over the years? What were some of the large milestones or catalytic projects or policy changes that spurred this growth?
  • What processes were helpful when the city was mapping out its vision and focus for growth and redevelopment and comprehensive planning? When did that take place? Who was involved? What did the process look like?
  • What does your approach to public-private partnership look like across the city?
  • What are the city’s biggest opportunities and challenges right now?
  • How are you currently supporting the workforce development and talent attraction needs of your businesses and largest employers? What are your plans for growing and sustaining this in the future? What are your biggest needs/gaps and how are you addressing those?
  • What are the largest and most influential industries in Cary? How have they grown and changed over the years? What type of public and private support has gone into cultivating those industries?
  • How is Cary approaching diversity and inclusion?
  • How much discussion is happening in Cary about affordable housing? What conversations or initiatives may be in the works around this topic?
  • What are your key economic development priorities in the coming decade?

We spent about 30 to 45 minutes answering these questions as well as a few more before they headed out for a tour of Cary parks and other facilities including Booth Amphitheater, USA Baseball, Cary Tennis Park, WakeMed Soccer, and Fenton.

Indian Ambassador Visit

Thursday night I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz, council member Johnson, and council member Eades at an event celebrating 50 years of business by Singh Development which was attended by the Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu. To have the Indian Ambassador visit Cary was very special and we were honored by his visit. The event included remarks by Sing Development, the Indian Ambassador, Morrisville representatives, and me. I presented the Indian Ambassador with a gift which had our new logo engraved on it. The event lasted about three hours.

NC Metro Mayors

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors for a legislative summary. The following is a summary from KTS Strategies:

Bill Filing Deadlines

The House bill filing deadline for any bill without a finance or appropriations provision was this Tuesday, April 18. To date, 840 bills have been filed. Finance- and appropriations-related bills must be filed in the House by next Tuesday, April 25. The Senate bill filing deadline was April 4. The Senate has filed 745 bills. Exceptions to bill filing deadlines include Constitutional amendments, redistricting, election laws, nominations and appointments, and adjournment resolutions.

Over the next two weeks, we will see a large volume of bills passing through the House and Senate to meet this session’s May 4 crossover deadline. Crossover is the date by which a bill must pass its chamber of origin to remain eligible for consideration for the remainder of the biennial session. Exemptions to the crossover deadline are the same as the exceptions for the bill filing deadline. Bills with a finance or appropriations provision are also not subject to the crossover deadline.

Women’s Sports Bills

This week, the North Carolina House and Senate considered companion bills H574/S631, Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. Both bills would prohibit biological males from competing on female sports teams. The Senate version of the bill would apply only to middle and high schools. The House version also includes colleges.

The House bill was approved by the Judiciary and Rules Committees before being heard on the House floor Wednesday. H574 passed on the floor with a vote of 73-39, with three Democrats voting in favor. The Senate bill was approved by the Education and Rules Committees and heard on the Senate floor Thursday.  After two tabled amendments, the bill passed along party lines (29-18).

NC Farm Act

S582, North Carolina Farm Act of 2023, was heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee this week. This is the legislature’s annual bill that generally makes various changes to laws pertaining to agriculture, forestry, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This year’s bill includes provisions that would allow income from the sale of honey to be considered gross income, create a Class 3 misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an animal waste spill, prohibit the use of an unmanned aircraft near a forest fire, and clarify the definition of wetlands. The bill passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

ACC Tennis Championships

Sunday I attended the women’s ACC Championships which were held at the Cary Tennis Park. I joined a large crowd in watching two of the best teams in the country battle it out.

In the end, NC State beat Carolina 4-1 for the ACC title. I was especially impressed with the #1 singles match where NC State’s Diana Shnaider beat previously undefeated, and number 1 nationally ranked player, Fiona Crawley in straight sets. BTW Shnaider is no slouch. She is currently ranked #88 in the world and made it to the third round of the Australian Open before losing a close three set match to the #6 seed. Needless to say, I witnessed two great players today.

I am so proud that Cary hosted the ACC men’s and women’s tennis championships and I hope to see many more in the future. It is our goal to grow this sports venue as well as the other sports venues in Cary.

Town Manager’s Report

Sean’s Message

We couldn’t have more perfect weather than this for Appreciate the Best, which is being held today at USA Baseball. I appreciate the Council’s continued support of events like this that foster fellowship and fun – two important aspects of our culture and creating the local government that doesn’t exist.
Tomorrow, several of us will begin our trip to Denver for the Raleigh Chamber’s Inter-City Visit, and since there’s no Council meeting next week, the next time I will see most of you in person will be the following week in Tampa with the Cary Chamber.
Have a good weekend. 
Sean

Indian Ambassador to the United States Visits Cary

Last night many on Town Council and from staff attended a reception honoring the Indian Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu. Mr. Sandhu offered comments about the Indian Diaspora with the audience, made up of representatives from local municipalities. The evening included a gift from Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, and the attendees enjoyed an evening celebrating cultural diversity in Cary and the surrounding area. 

Year of the Trail at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

On Saturday, NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson, North Carolina State Representative Julie von Haefen, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, and Council Members Lori Bush and Ryan Eades gathered at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve to celebrate NC’s Year of The Trail in 2023 and the completed updates to the Swift Creek Loop Trail boardwalk. North Carolina’s Year of the Trail in 2023 celebrates North Carolina’s thousands of miles of stunning trails, greenways, and blueways. Cary is taking this opportunity to celebrate its 90+ miles of greenways and trails.

Mayor Presents Earth Day Proclamation at Kingswood Elementary

On Tuesday, Mayor Weinbrecht presented the Earth Day Proclamation to the Junior Green Team at Kingswood Elementary School. Kingswood held its annual Earth Day fair that included vendors, food trucks, and activities. Cary It Green also participated as a vendor and handed out material related to the Count Me In Cary initiative.

First Climate Advisory Stakeholder Meeting

On Wednesday, a diverse group of more than 40 staff and citizen stakeholders gathered to participate in the first Climate Advisory Stakeholder meeting as Cary advances towards creating a community-wide Sustainability and Climate Action Strategy . The meeting began with an overview of the signs and predicted impacts of climate change in Cary and transitioned into an interactive presentation about existing conditions, possible pathways, and Cary’s desire to be a national leader in creating a sustainable and resilient community. Breakout groups then discussed and listed opportunities, barriers, and equity considerations to lay the foundation for next steps in creating potential strategies that reflect the future Cary wants to see. 

Volunteer Advisory Board Staff Liaison Meeting

On Monday, Sean Stegall spoke at the monthly Volunteer Advisory Board Staff Liaisons meeting. He thanked staff liaisons for their commitment to the boards, appreciation of our volunteers, and how the boards support the overall structure of our government. Organized by the clerk’s office, Cary staff liaisons meet monthly to cover logistic updates, upcoming advisory volunteer meeting topics, and professional development opportunities for liaisons.

Cary Speaker Series with Marshall Brain

The IT Department launched a Speaker Series highlighting local tech entrepreneurs who are disrupting the IT industry and inspiring us to think differently. On Thursday, our inaugural guest, Marshall Brain, Director of the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program at NC State and founder of HowStuffWorks.com, spoke with staff about the importance of identifying gaps and opportunities in the market and creating solutions to address them — often in a way that disrupts traditional business models and ways of thinking. Brain is a well-known public speaker and the author of over a dozen books on various topics.

Meter Replacement Operation Completed

The supply chain for new water meters continues to be challenging, especially for the type of smart water meters required for Cary’s Automated Meter Infrastructure systems. After receiving a new shipment of smart water meters, staff planned and implemented a special operation on April 15 to replace 137 previous-generation meters. In a coordinated effort by staff from multiple departments, including Utilities, Public Works, and Finance, staff installed, programmed, and synchronized the new meters with the appropriate billing cycle in one day.

Duke Energy Lights

North Carolina Football Club and North Carolina Courage fans have a new and exciting way to access WakeMed Soccer Park Stadium. With the opening of nearby Fenton, fans can walk to and from restaurants and bars before and after events at the stadium. Fenton built a new greenway connection that connects to the soccer park. New lights added to a portion of the cross-country trail is a great addition to fans’ game day experiences.

Taste of China

Last weekend, the Chinese American Friendship Association of North Carolina hosted its Taste of China Food & Culture Festival in downtown Cary. Thousands turned out for this inaugural event in Cary, sampling cuisine from more than 45 food vendors and enjoying the various performances and cultural activities. Joining Council Members Lori Bush, Carissa Kohn-Johnson, and Ryan Eades in attendance were more than a dozen other elected officials from the State and Wake County, including Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and NC Representative Ya Liu. The seed for this event was planted early in Ya Liu’s tenure on Cary’s Council in February 2020. After delays due to the pandemic and then a hurricane last fall, we were thrilled to finallysee this event spring to life in downtown Cary.

Housing Conditions

Linked here, please find recent history of affordable housing conditions offered by development. This was a conversation at the most recent Council meeting.

CASSI Open Data Portal Launched

To help better understand how the CASSI Autonomous Shuttle has been operating, survey and operational data were collected by NCDOT and Cary staff over the past several weeks. Data Scientists have crunched the numbers, created graphs and tables, and put them all on display for staff to use. The CASSI Open Data Portal is now live. The portal can be used to find data on popular ridership days or how often and where the shuttle has to disengage its autonomous features. You can find that and more here.

Triangle’s Got Talent 2023

Triangle’s Got Talent returned in 2023 with 14 performances that showcased local teens singing, dancing, jamming, and more at The Cary Theater on April 16. Hosted by the Executive Board of Cary Teen Council, Triangle’s Got Talent recognizes teens in the arts, with all proceeds donated to a local charity group. Last hosted in April 2019, the main event returned, and the beneficiary in 2023 was Read and Feed.

107 East Chatham Street Restaurant

Development plans were submitted for the second round of review for 107 East Chatham Street, currently Gurkan’s Auto Repair. The plans propose expanding the existing building and converting it into a restaurant with outdoor seating. Streetscape improvements will also be included along East Chatham Street from The Center Shopping Center to the corner of Academy Street and from Academy Street to Cedar Street. 

Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting

The Neighborhood Meeting will be held virtually on WebEx from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The following cases will be discussed on May 3.

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

Upcoming Meetings

Planning and Zoning Board
Monday April 24
at 6:30 p.m.

Cultural Arts Committee
Wednesday April 26
at 6:00 p.m.

Mayor’s Mailbox

  • A complaint about Lake Crabtree Pipeline construction
  • A complaint about side street parking when downtown holds an event
  • A complaint about the rezoning proposal 22-REZ-13
  • A thank you for helping with issues related to Google Fiber installation
  • A request to help homeless veterans
  • A request to support rezoning proposal 22-REZ-06
  • Several cut-and-paste requests to pass an inclusion and equality ordinance (we did that last summer)
  • A complaint to the town staff notifying someone about state public records laws allowing information: “I see how proud gleeful and triumphant you are to work for a backward S### H### of a place in a state where the government is always right and the citizens always wrong. Where you get to squeeze the citizen and expose the person to the wrath of your political friends. …”
  • A request to vote against the US 401 Corridor Preferred Route

Next Week

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a Cary 101 reception, a candidate meeting, a sports alliance meeting, a Global Horizons event, and a NC Metro Mayors meeting. The week has fewer meetings and events than normal because of three family birthdays and my anniversary.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 30th, 2023. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communication 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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