State of Cary- Cary Central Rotary
Monday morning I presented an abbreviated version of the State of Cary address to the Cary Central Rotary. I didn’t have enough time for questions from the entire group but based on feedback afterwards it was well received.
After giving my address I met with a candidate for office. My practice continues to be that I endorse incumbents and help all candidates.
Council Meeting Prep
Monday during the day I attempted to contact council members to hear of any concerns or questions about the upcoming agenda. There were questions about the Duke Health proposal from one council member. Other than that, there were no questions.
Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda items. The meeting was brief.
Town Manager One-On-One
Monday I briefly met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. Some of the topics of discussion included the town’s RFQ for the town hall campus, advisory boards, proclamations, and Cary Council candidates.
Wake Mayors Association Meeting
Monday night I traveled to Knightdale for the Wake County Mayors Association meeting. Mayors in attendance were from the towns of Cary, Fuquay Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon. Our topics of discussion included the Centennial Authority and budgets. Our meeting lasted about two and a half hours.
Year of the Trail Ride
Tuesday afternoon I joined council member Bush and about a dozen citizens in a bike ride from Bond Park to the Davis Drive Park as part of the “Year of the Trail” celebration. It was great to participate in the ride and see all the people on the greenway. Cary has about 85 miles of greenways. And if you include trails, we have over 100 miles.
Wednesday afternoon I participated in a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board. There were four consent items and six discussion items. We heard reports on the Triangle Regional Model, Triangle Transportation Choices/Transportation Demand Management (TDM), FY2024 Community Funding Area Program Update, 2023 (Section 5310) Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program Project Selection, Wake Transit FY24 Recommended Work Plan, and Amendment #12 to FY2020-2029 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). You can review the entire agenda and staff reports here.
Meeting with Bel Canto Representative
Thursday before the council meeting, I met with a representative from the Bel Canto Asset Growth Fund. I usually don’t meet with developers or their represeentatives, but I thought it was important for me to hear her out and for me to express what the council expects in projects. In my conversation I emphasized the importance of affordable housing, green infrastructure, and mobility. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.
Thursday night the council held their last regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda had four consent items, two public hearings, and three discussion items.
The first public hearing was for the FY 2024 budget and had no speakers. There will be an additional public hearing on June 8th before the vote on June 22nd.
The second public hearing on the Duke Health rezoning proposal which had a lot of discussion between council, staff, and the applicant about interior roads, stormwater mitigation, kiosk usage, affordable housing, and more.
Under discussion the council unanimously approved all items including the FY 2023 – 2024 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Annual Action Plan and funding recommendation. Council also approved Walnut Street and Davis Drive changes. Walnut Street will have a slower speed limit at 35 mph instead of 45 mph and Davis Drive will have a large school speed zone. And the Cary Water Treatment Plant will get upgrades which is part of the infrastructure lifecycle management.
State of Cary Searstone
Friday morning, I presented an updated version of the State of Cary address to about 50 residents and future residents of Searstone. My presentation took about 45 minutes and there were about 10 minutes of questions. I enjoyed my visit and hope I am invited back in the future.
North Carolina Metro Mayors
Friday the North Carolina Metro Mayors held their weekly meeting to hear a summary of legislative actions. Here are the week’s activities summarized by KTS strategies:
Senate Passes Budget
This week, the Senate released their budget proposal. The proposal received approval from the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget, Finance and Pensions Committees before heading to the full Senate. After consideration of 30 amendments, it passed 36-13. Seven Democrats voted in favor. Some highlights of the $29.8 billion spending plan include the following:
- Cuts taxes by $1.2 billion for all North Carolina families and businesses over the next two years;
- Spends over $17.2 billion on education in fiscal year 2023–24 and over $17.6 billion in fiscal year 2024–25;
- Boosts funding for the General Maintenance Reserve, used to help with upkeep of roads, by over $311 million;
- Raises pay for State employees by 5% over the biennium;
- Raises pay for teachers by 4.5% over the biennium;
- Enacts Medicaid expansion.
The House and Senate will now meet in a Conference Committee in the upcoming weeks to negotiate the final budget. Their goal is to have a budget in place before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
Veto Override Vote on Abortion Bill
Last Saturday, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed S20, Care for Women, Children and Families Act. This bill prohibits elective abortions after 12 weeks in North Carolina. Exceptions apply for rape, incest, fetal life-limiting anomalies, and risk of life to the mother. It also includes $160 million for maternal health services, adoption care, contraceptive services, and paid leave for teachers and state employees after the birth of a child.
On Tuesday, the General Assembly held votes to override Governor Cooper’s veto. A three-fifths majority vote of all members present is necessary for a successful override. Both chambers successfully voted to override the veto along party lines. The final vote was 30-20 in the Senate and 72-48 in the House. This marks the second time this session that the General Assembly has overridden a veto from the governor.
School Choice Bill
After a long floor debate and several failed amendment attempts, the House passed H823, Choose Your School, Choose Your Future Act on Wednesday. This legislation expands access to the Opportunity Scholarship Program to all North Carolina families and grant amounts would be based on household income. This bill is co-sponsored by all House Republicans. The bill passed with a final vote of 65-45, with only one Democrat voting in favor.
TST (The Soccer Tournament) Taping
Friday afternoon I did a welcome taping for TST (The Soccer Tournament) which will have 32 teams from all over the world playing for a grand prize of $1 million. Matches start on Thursday, June 1st and the Championship match is on Sunday, June 4th. See you on the pitch!
Town Manager’s Report
This was a very busy week for our dedicated planning staff. Following the Duke Health rezoning case last night, staff are now focused on the upcoming South Hills Development rezoning case. Letters for the neighborhood meeting, scheduled for June 7, will go out to inform property owners on Wednesday. For the latest information on the case visit the rezoning webpage, here.
Have a good weekend.
Celebrating Bike Month and Volunteer Appreciation
On Tuesday members of the Transportation Working Group, Greenways Committee, and Bike Plan Focus Group came together at the Bond Park Boathouse to celebrate Bike Month, the Year of the Trail, and our volunteers. After a proclamation delivered by At-Large Councilmember Lori Bush, the group, which included Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, enjoyed a bike ride along the scenic Black Creek and White Oak Greenways, heading to Davis Drive Park and back.
WWTA Senior Appreciation Day
On Wednesday Western Wake Tennis Association (WWTA) held their spring Senior Appreciation Day at the Cary Tennis Park. This event is held twice a year to celebrate the senior citizens who support the game of tennis in Cary. The event, which had 56 participants, featured a morning of organized round robin tennis as well as lunch and tennis clinics led by Cary Tennis Park pros. The highlight of the event was the exhibition match in which Mayor Harold Weinbrecht played against Tennis Services Coordinator Sean Ferreira during which they were partnered up with two senior volunteers to play in a doubles match. Mayor Weinbrecht also read a proclamation recognizing May as National Tennis Month.
White Oak Conservation Management Plan Public Meeting
Last week Councilmembers Ryan Eades and Lori Bush and residents from Cary and Apex enjoyed an evening of engagement at the White Oak Creek Conservation Management Plan Public Meeting. The management plan is a grant-funded collaborative project including Cary, Apex, the Triangle Land Conservancy, and industry experts. Participants learned about the ecology and hydrology of the conservation area, why Cary is protecting it with a conservation management plan and gave feedback on possible future public uses/considerations of the space.
Early Voting Site in Chatham County
At their meeting on May 16, the Chatham County Board of Elections voted to approve an early voting site for Cary’s 2023 municipal election. This will be the first time Cary has had a designated early voting site in Chatham County. We thank the Chatham County Board of Elections for approving this as Cary’s Chatham County population continues to grow. For more information, visit carync.gov/elections.
Cary Senior Housing Symposium
Last week Cary held its first Senior Housing Symposium at the Herb Young Community Center. A partnership between the Senior Advisory Board and the Cary housing staff, this convening brought together regional experts on senior housing affordability to explore current needs, opportunities, and resources to support diverse senior housing options. The agenda included senior demographic data, best practices for constructing and operating affordable senior housing, and models to support aging in place in Cary. Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, Councilmembers Lori Bush and Carissa Kohn-Johnson, and Assistant Town Manager Danna Widmar joined the discussion along with presentations from regional leaders on this topic which includes AARP, Wake County’s Housing Division, Wake County Dept. of Human Services, DHIC, Brick Capital, Rebuilding Together of the Triangle, and Dorcas Ministries.
Councilmember Carissa Kohn-Johnson Presents Creative Placemaking Award
On Tuesday the Cary Chamber of Commerce held the Small Business Excellence Awards Luncheon. Councilmembers Jack Smith and Carissa Kohn-Johnson shared remarks. Councilmember Kohn-Johnson presented the Creative Placemaking Award to Singh Development for commissioning artist Thomas Sayre to create a unique “earth casting” sculpture for their project at Griffin Weston. The Creative Placemaking Award was created to increase public awareness of outstanding public art and to recognize and encourage design excellence in the private development sector.
Upcoming Closure of South Harrison Avenue
Beginning on Monday, the Annual Water Main Replacement project contractor, Carolina Civilworks, will place barricades on S. Harrison Ave between Chatham St. and Dry Ave. to begin construction of a new water main. This project invests in the future of downtown infrastructure by providing additional water supply capacity for our existing community, supporting the development of new projects, and enhancing existing infrastructure within the project area. A larger water main proposed for South Harrison will enhance fire flow protection within the downtown area. Detour routes will be available while S. Harrison Ave is closed to through traffic. During construction, on-street parking will not be available in the work zone.
Transportation Working Group Visits CASSI
The Transportation Working Group utilized its May meeting to learn more about Cary’s experiences with the CASSI autonomous shuttle at Bond Park. Topics of discussion ranged from battery life and laser detection equipment to the vehicle’s video game-like operational system. The meeting concluded with a round trip ride from the Boathouse to the Cary Senior Center.
Dillard Drive Magnet Middle School Career Fair
Coray Davis, Chris Little, and Ernest Ray from the Transportation Department shared insight into their career paths and use of technology and teamwork to design, manage, and provide practical solutions to challenging engineering projects within Cary at the Dillard Drive Middle School Career Day. More than 1,000 students participated in the event, with a select group of eighth graders provided on-site mock interviews.
BRT Western Corridor Station Area Planning Scoping
Cary and Raleigh are actively preparing for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor connecting the two downtown areas. The Federal Transit Administration awarded a grant to support Transit Oriented Development planning work in the station areas along this corridor. Project scoping is currently underway. This week Cary staff hosted Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the consultant selected for this work, on a site drive of the future BRT route. If you have any questions, direct them to Transit Director Kelly Blazey.
On Tuesday, 18 new Cary firefighters who were hired May 7 as part of Cary’s 27th fire academy joined 20 of their colleagues from many other departments at orientation, a special day structured by Human Resources to welcome Cary’s newest staff members. This week’s roster was one of the biggest ever, and together participants gained insights into Cary’s story, culture, and current events in sessions presented by our organization’s leaders. This unique day-long experience distinguishes Cary’s commitment to People First by dedicating a welcoming day.
Last week Public Works and Fire hosted a homeschool group for a Meet-the-Fleet field trip. There was plenty of sunshine and lots of smiles from the 40 children and 30 adults that attended while they learned about the different equipment, we use to serve the community.
Special Events Around Cary
Cary took the main stage last weekend as we hosted the 19th annual Ritmo Latino Festival and two sold out nights with Grammy Award-winning musician Pitbull. Cary partnered with Diamante Arts and Cultural Center to present the 19th annual Ritmo Latino Festival to celebrate Latino/Hispanic culture through music, dancing, and food. Across town Pitbull had the audience on their feet dancing for the entire show.
Fest in the West
Fest in the West was held on May 6, and the event drew approximately 3,000 people. There was a main stage that showcased a variety of musical acts, pie eating contest, petting zoo, and aerialist. There were local artisans selling their wares to the attendees who enjoyed the good weather and a fun community festival.
Solarize the Triangle a Local Success
Solarize the Triangle 2022 set a national record as the largest Solarize program in the country to date with 1,500 people signing up for free evaluations in a single campaign. As a result, 173 Triangle homeowners executed contracts to purchase new solar energy systems. Of these, Cary had 109 free evaluation sign ups and 12 completed contracts. Based upon 2022 success, a second Solarize the Triangle program kicked off on May 15. Enrollment for a free evaluation of homes, nonprofits, and small businesses ends September 30, and enrollees have until December 31, to decide whether to sign a contract.
Spring Garden Season in Full Bloom
Garden season is in full bloom! Cary continues to grow its pollinator, edible, and native habitats. Recently, staff and seniors renovated two communal garden areas at the Senior Center Community Garden by removing non-native and invasive plants and installing over 32 species of native grasses, shrubs, and flowers. Garden guests of all ages enjoyed the first open house event of the season at the newly renovated Carpenter Park Community Garden. In addition, through our annual sale at Good Hope Farm 385 people purchased a compost bin or rain barrel.
White Oak Church Road Water Main Construction Begins
Part of providing exceptional utility service includes constructing new water mains to support our community’s growing needs. The White Oak Church Rd Water Main Project closes a gap in the water system which will improve operations, water quality, and fire protection for the surrounding area. Cary has contracted with Sanford Contractor Inc. to install about 3200-feet of 16-inch water main along White Oak Church Road, from the White Oak Elementary to Vandiver Way. Construction work started on Monday with mobilization and tree clearing.
2024 Council-Staff Retreat Dates
The annual Council-Staff Retreat weekend is the perfect time to be on the balcony for strategic planning and blue-sky thinking, and on the dance floor team building. Town Clerk Virginia Johnson added a block to your calendars for March 1-2, in Wilmington. We look forward to spending time with each of you there for a second year.
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting on June 7th
The Neighborhood Meeting will be held virtually on WebEx from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The following cases will be discussed on June 7:
For more information and to register visit the Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting.
Planning and Zoning Board
Monday, May 22
Cultural Arts Committee
Wednesday, May 24
- Complaints to CAMPO about the future path to US 401 Bypass in Fuquay Varina (scheduled for 2050).
- A complaint about the Kanoy rezoning proposal 22-REZ-13.
- Complaints about the redevelopment of town hall campus.
- A request to approve the budget as proposed.
Next I will be on a family vacation.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, June 4th, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.