Mayor Harold Weinbrecht publishes his weekly blog post on his personal blog (mayorweinbrecht.com), sharing his thoughts and updates on local news and events in Cary, NC. The Cary Report, with permission from the town, will be re-publishing the Mayor’s blog as they are posted each Sunday. The following is the latest from Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.
Interview with Raleigh Realtors, ATP 75 Tennis Tournament, and Fenton #3 for Retail Experience
Interview with Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors
Monday I talked with about a half a dozen realtors representing the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors. Topics included housing, affordable housing, infrastructure, and how I see the future. Our conversation lasted about thirty minutes.
Boy Scout Interview
Later Monday I was interviewed by a Boy Scout working on his government merit badge. After the interview I showed him and his mother the council chambers and we took a few pictures. It is nice to see someone of that age interested in their local government.
ATP 75 Tennis Tournament
Monday night I attended the first round of the ATP 75 professional tennis tournament being held at the Cary Tennis Park. This is the first of two professional tournaments that will be held at the Cary Tennis Park along with collegiate and other championships.
Tuesday I once again attended the ATP 75 professional tennis tournament. Twenty players out of the thirty-two-player draw were from outside the United States. It was great to see such international talent on display.
Saturday I watched both semi-finals singles matches and the finals in doubles. One player, Adam Walton, played in the heat indices over 100 for three hours before winning his singles match and then played in the doubles championship. I presented the doubles trophies to the winners.
Sunday afternoon, in heat indices of about 105, Adam Walton once again battled for over three hours before winning the championship. I was honored to present him with the Championship Trophy.
Sunday before the tournament began, I took the tournament supervisor to Prestonwood to hit tennis balls for an hour. The supervisor, Jorge Mandl, is from Croatia after living most of his life in Argentenia. It was so nice to meet, talk, and enjoy time with someone from a different county and a different background. Once we were on the tennis court it was like we had known each other a lifetime. It is great to build these relationships and hopefully one day they will help in bringing more tournaments to Cary.
This Atlantic Tire Tennis Championship was a great tournament and had incredible talent from all over the world. If you missed it don’t fret, the second Atlantic Tire Tennis Championship of 2023 will be September 10ththrough September 17th.
Diwali Dance Practice
Because of recent minor surgery I was not able to practice the Diwali dances on Wednesday as I had hoped, but I was able to watch them learn a new dance. Our group will have several dances with the mayors of Apex, Cary and Morrisville doing their own dance.
General Assembly Update
The following is a summary of legislative actions from KTS Strategies:
Budget Update and Legislative Schedule
It was another quiet week at the General Assembly as legislative leadership continued to negotiate the final version of the state budget behind closed doors. No committee meetings or votes were held by either chamber. While we had anticipated the budget to be completed by the end of August, at this point we do not plan to see a budget vote until September. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) was quoted on Monday after a non-voting session saying there is “zero chance” a budget will pass before September 1st. Speaker Moore and Senator Berger have confirmed an agreement has been reached on tax cuts and raises for state employees, but there are still outstanding items including spending of savings, capital improvement projects, and if they will legalize more casinos in North Carolina. No specific details on agreed upon items have been released. We do expect some legislative activity to occur at the General Assembly next week. The House has calendared several veto override votes for next Wednesday, August 16.
Speaker of the House Race
Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) confirmed last month he would not seek re-election for Speaker in 2025. Moore is the longest-serving speaker, holding the role for five two-year terms. Three Republican House members have since announced they would run to replace him. Representative Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), Chair of the House Rules Committee, House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) and Representative Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) have officially confirmed their plans to run for the position. Senior Appropriations Chair, Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), has mentioned he is considering a run, but he has yet to officially enter the race.
Fenton’s National Recognition
This week Fenton was recognized by Chain Store Age as #3 in the nation for retail experiences. The following is from the article:
When Fenton was about to open a year ago, its then leasing director Dotan Zuckerman told Chain Store Age that locals in Cary would be glad that North Carolina nixed its original plan to turn the empty, 92-acre site between Raleigh and Durham into a storage location for state vehicles.
“Everyone around there compared it to other modern open-air developments,” Zuckerman said then, “but they didn’t know what they didn’t know, and they soon will.”
Now they do.
Today, thousands of residents in this well-to-do suburban enclave in the Research Triangle escape to Fenton to dine at chef-driven restaurants such as M Sushi and Colletta, from which they can exit with their cocktails and stroll through art-lined paseos.
They can pause at two green spaces set with hammocks, fireplaces, cornhole sets, and chess tables. And they and their families can take advantage of the center’s 200-plus annual activations such as Raleigh Fashion Fest, Little Fentonians, and Light the Square—Fenton’s Christmas tree lighting event which drew more than 17,000 visitors in its first year.
“It’s a vibe. It’s an environment,” said Kurt Hartman, a senior managing director at the global real estate power Hines, which developed Fenton in partnership with Columbia Development.
“Most of the other retail centers in the area have been around a long, long time. There is an old mall that has been morphing into an outdoor center. This is the only one created from the ground up.”
Wegmans was the very first tenant to show an interest in the location, and their lease signing shone as a beacon to other top national and local brands.
Fenton’s 345,000-sq.-ft. of retail GLA houses Arhaus, Lululemon, Paragon Theaters, PBR Cowboy Bar, Williams Sonoma, CRU Food & Wine Bar, Club Pilates, and Sephora. Office space and multitenant residential is elevated above the street-level retail deck.
Phase Two of the project is now underway and Phase One’s exceptional debut has caught the eye of many more valuable tenants, according to Hartman.
“Leasing is up like crazy,” he said.
We are so blessed to have the Fenton in Cary.
Town Manager’s Report
I enjoyed meeting several new staff members at our directors’ meeting on Monday. I continue to be amazed by the incredible talent that is currently present within our organization, as well as the talent that we are actively recruiting.
I’m looking forward to seeing each of you next week at our only Council meeting of the month.
Have a great weekend.
Wake County Sports Facility Funding
Assistant Town Manager Shelley Curran, Community Projects Director Doug McRainey, and Financial Analysis Manager Mike Franks attended the final stakeholders meeting today concerning the distribution of the Hospitality Tax. Staff are currently reviewing the allocation that will be presented to the Wake County Board on August 14 and the Raleigh City Council on August 15. Both jurisdictions will take final action later in the month.
At this point in the process, $75M is being recommended for a “Cary Indoor Sports Facility,” an increase from the previously committed $35M for the project. This meaningful increase reflects the County’s continued commitment to the project. Doug McRainey and the Finance Team will work with this number to create architectural and financial models for the project. This will allow the Council to resume its consideration of the project and other sports facility projects toward the end of the year. Finally, Shelley and Doug, along with others, have done incredible work in this arena, and I am so very grateful to them. It is also noteworthy that our decision not to incessantly lobby both the appointed and elected officials at Wake County, as opposed to all the other jurisdictions, was highlighted as an important factor in our success.
Once the final allocation has been approved, we will share with the Town Council.
Contested Case/NPDES Permit
Today, Cary filed a Petition for a Contested Case Hearing with the NC Office of Administrative Hearings regarding the renewal of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility (WWRWRF). We have been working diligently with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on the terms of this permit renewal; however, we have not been able to come to agreement on a few items. To preserve our rights and provide us with additional time to discuss our concerns with DEQ, we filed the petition. The WWRWRF has been in operation for nine years as of this week and has not had any material NPDES permit violations, which is a testament to its state-of-the-art design and to the skill and dedication of the employees who operate it.
Municipal Manager’s Update Meeting
This week, Shelley Curran attended the Municipal Managers’ meeting. The topics included Wake EMS and behavioral health. The group discussed EMS services in Wake and Chatham Counties. Additionally, Shelley learned that youth suicides have been on the rise since the pandemic, and as a result, increased funding is needed for behavioral health. Wake County has been working on a crisis report, which will be released soon.
On July 25, Cary Community Candidate Forum invitations were emailed to Council candidates. The five-minute, live-to-tape segments are currently being recorded and the final videos will be shared on Cary TV, YouTube, and the Town of Cary website starting August 21.
Construction of New Maintenance Facility with Solar Rooftop
The new maintenance facility at the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility (CAWTF) is wrapping up final construction. The new facility includes a rooftop solar array of 87 panels, with an anticipated annual production of approximately 57,000 kWh. The expected payback period analysis is approximately six to eight years, which includes the benefit of Cary having received $24,975 in solar rebates from Duke Energy – the solar-only component of the project cost was approximately $90,000. While the project provides a great need for maintenance activities at the site, incorporating the solar arrays into new and existing infrastructure projects continues to support Cary’s emission reduction goals and initiatives. The site is expected to be in full operation by the end of the month.
Chris Simpson Receives Ball-Bluestein Award
Chris Simpson, who retired as Cary’s Town Attorney in December 2020, received the Ball-Bluestein Award for Excellence in Municipal Law. This award, presented by the North Carolina Association of Municipal Attorneys, is named in honor of Ernie Ball, former Cary Town Attorney and General Counsel of the NC League of Municipalities, and Frayda Bluestein, a beloved professor at the UNC School of Government. The award recognizes those who have made valuable contributions to the field of municipal law. Current Town Attorney Lisa Glover was honored to both nominate Chris for this award and present it to her at the ceremony, where Chris was lauded for her intellect, professionalism, mentorship of attorneys across the state, and dedication to family.
Duke International Visit
Last Friday, twelve international officials visited Town Hall to learn about Cary’s financial management. The students’ visit was a part of the curriculum in Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy’s program for Fiscal Decentralization and Local Government Financial Management. High-ranking officials from Africa and Asia attend Duke’s three-week summer program to focus on transferring control from the central government to local officials. The officials enjoyed touring the Council Chambers and hearing from Chief Strategy Officer Susan Moran about Cary’s government and culture. They also engaged in conversations with finance leaders Kimberly Branch, Mike Franks, and Marcelo Olarte, intern Elizabeth McKay, and retired Chief Financial Officer Karen Mills. Cary gifted the officials a copy of Leadership on the Line to reinforce the cultural messages and change management lessons that strengthen Cary’s financial management and citizen satisfaction.
Winding Pine Pump Station Pipeline Construction
Park Construction was awarded a contract for construction of the offsite pipeline for the new Winding Pine Pump Station on August 25, 2022. Park Construction has mobilized to the project site and is expected to be complete with their work by July 25, 2024. Clearing and grubbing along the project corridor from the new pump station site to the existing Kit Creek Pump Station site, is expected to last approximately one month. Pipeline installation is anticipated to begin in October 2023.
New GoCary Digital Displays
As part of GoCary’s expanding outreach efforts, new digital displays were installed at the Cary Senior Center at Bond Park and at Herb Young Community Center. The touchscreen feature allows people to navigate the GoCary website to learn more about the public transit services we offer, including the trip planning tool on our homepage. Our real-time app for fixed route service will also be available on the displays later this fall.
Public Art Advisory Board
Wednesday Aug. 16
Thursday Aug. 17
- Dozens of emails asking to stop RDU Parking Expansion (Cary is not a decision maker in any RDU issues)
- Request to change ordinances regarding Airbnb.
- Several requests to lift COVID restrictions (We have no COVID restrictions. Another example of misinformation being spread about Cary.)
- A complaint about crime in Regency.
- A request for an outdoor swimming pool.
- A question about downtown development.
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, the Cary Chamber Education Golf tournament, the Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships board meeting, a Candidate Taping, minor surgery and recovery, India Independence Day.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 20th, 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.