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.
On Monday I received information that the Raleigh-Cary area was ranked as one of the “most educated” in the US by CNBC. The criteria included educational attainment and Quality of Education & Attainment Gap. In Cary 70% of adults have college degrees with 25% having advanced degrees.
Deputy Town Manager One-On-One
Monday evening I talked briefly with the Deputy Town Manager for my weekly one-on-one. Our topics included the downtown park and various small issues around town. The ribbon cutting for the downtown park is set for November 19th. The fences may come down a few days before that.
Wake County Mayors Association
Monday night I attended the monthly meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association in Cary. In attendance were the mayors of Apex, Cary, Garner, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon.
Cary Chamber Planning Conference
Wednesday I joined five of six council members and dozens of business leaders for the annual Cary Chamber Planning Conference. The program started with a panel discussion and remarks from Beaufort officials and the owner of the Beaufort Hotel. This was followed by remarks from the mayor of Beaufort. I was the next speaker and talked about what we can expect in the next few years. Then Dr. Ralls of Wake Tech spoke about how they are training the next generation to meet local work force demand. NC Senator Gale Adcock talked about legislative actions in this long session including several harmful bills that impact Cary. Suzie Bishop of the Center of Leadership Studies presented slides about effective leadership qualities. The last speaker of the day was Dr. Mellissa Furman of Career Potential. She was an amazing speaker that broke down the typical characteristics of each generation starting from pre baby boomers through the current generation of adults.
Thursday started with the annual economic trends from Ted Abernathy. From his presentation it appears Cary and North Carolina will continue to grow and prosper. However, it appears that North Carolina rural counties will continue to lose population and skilled labor. A trained workforce will continue to be a problem and get worse in the foreseeable future. Mr. Abernathy’s data is always fascinating and is a great preview of what we can expect in the next few years.
The conference was a great success and had amazing speakers that supplied invaluable information for all in attendance. Thanks to the Cary Chamber for putting on this conference.
RTA Transportation Breakfast
Friday morning I was part of a panel discussing the importance of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) in Cary. The panel included mayors from Raleigh, Cary, and Wake Forest; council members and commissioners from Chatham County, Wake County, Orange County, Johnston County, and Chapel Hill; transportation leaders from Durham County, GoTriangle, and NCDOT Division 5; and business leaders from WakeMed, First Citizens Bank, RTA Foundation, UNC Chapel Hill, and the RDU Airport Authority. Even though the panel discussion was over two hours I was only able to answer one question. The following is an excerpt from my remarks:
“…We are excited about Bus Rapid Transit and the opportunities it will bring to Cary!
We are joining the City of Raleigh later this summer to kick-off a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) study that will look at the areas around the Western BRT stations for any land use and zoning changes that may be necessary to support development that advances the goals outlined in the Cary Community Plan.
We are also planning for a new Multi-Modal Center that will provide improved mobility options to connect regionally within the Triangle, including access to the Western BRT and the future BRT extension to RTP. …”
Based on what I know, I believe we will see BRT operating within the next five years.
State of Cary Follow-up Questions
A couple of weeks ago I presented the State of Cary address to Carolina Preserve. Here are some of the answers to questions they asked:
What corporate headquarters are planning to move to this area in the near future?
Corporate headquarter relocations are complicated transactions, which require a lot of time and a number of public and private entities working together, often under the direction of non-disclosure agreements. In Cary, we typically have between 2-4 formal relocation inquiries in the pipeline at any given time. These are mostly portions of a company relocating a division, not the entire HQ. These formal inquiries are also looking in other states in addition to Cary. The Town of Cary partners with the Cary Chamber to formally manage and recruit companies to Cary through their Vice President of Economic Development.
What developments are happening in the area, particularly related to retail and Parkside Commons?
The Parkside Town Commons shopping center originally received development plan approval in 2008. This approval allowed construction to begin on the site. Now that the shopping center is built, the owner and management of the center are responsible for selecting and signing leases with individual retail tenants. Permitting for new retail tenants is required through the Town of Cary. Regarding new developments in the area, there is currently a rezoning application in process across from Parkside Town Commons at the corner of O’Kelly Chapel Road and NC 55 Hwy (case number 23-REZ-01). This request is to rezone 46.29 acres to the Mixed-Use District (MXD) zoning to allow a mixed-use development which will include office, commercial, multi-family, and hotel. More information can be found on Cary’s website: https://www.carync.gov/connect-engage/transparency/public-hearings/public-hearing-cases/rezoning-cases/2023-rezoning-cases.
Information about street lighting.
Streetlights can be added to any street and are routinely done so through a variety of methods. Typically, streetlights are added during the development process when a private development widens streets to meet our Cary Community Plan’s street widths requirements. Additionally, Cary has a street lighting program pertaining to the installation of streetlights along existing streets for the purposes of traffic safety.
Wherever streetlights are requested, Cary staff work with Duke Energy to develop a design plan and construction schedule for installation of the poles and lights. Duke Energy hires a private contractor to install the poles once all of the plans are completed.
To request installation of street lighting, you can email Kimberly Baker, Senior Right of Way Technician, or call (919) 481-5098.
Here is the website to view the streetlight program: https://www.carync.gov/projects-initiatives/project-updates/street-light-program.
What are the future plans for the extension of McCrimmon Parkway from Rt. 55 to McCrimmon Parkway in Morrisville? What is the timeline, and is it funded yet?
The extension of McCrimmon Pkwy is part of the Town’s long-range plan. Unfortunately, we do not have funds for design and construction at this time. McCrimmon Pkwy is a state road, I hope state funding will become available in the future to complete this gap in the road. We do request this street extension when NCDOT is evaluating future projects. This corridor will also require a bridge over the CSX railroad as CSX no longer allows new at-grade railroad crossings directly across their tracks, unless 2 to 3 existing at-grade crossings at different locations are closed. We hope to work with NCDOT to find funding for the road in the future. For more information about the feasibility study, click here: https://www.carync.gov/projects-initiatives/project-updates/street-projects/mccrimmon-parkway-extension-feasibility-study.
Can we have information about street lighting on O’Kelly Chapel Road/55 and when it can be installed?
Street lighting is present along most of NC 55 and O’Kelly Chapel Road in the vicinity of this intersection. The western leg of O’Kelly Chapel Road is missing lighting along the Hawthorne development frontage as well as the undeveloped property north of the street. Many of the required improvements that Hawthorne would have provided along O’Kelly Chapel Road were relieved based on a single payment in lieu. With these funds already secured by Cary, the additional improvements along their frontage, which would include street lighting, would be provided once the remainder of O’Kelly Chapel Road is constructed through the development of adjacent parcels. Street lighting along the undeveloped property will be provided with their development plan. This parcel is currently in for review for development.
How can one travel from Carolina Preserve to the Downtown area without driving?
GoCary, Cary’s Transit program, offers Door to Door service for any Cary resident aged 60 and older. GoCary Door to Door is a shared ride, reservation-based service. More information about how to ride is available on our website: https://gocary.org/about-gocary-door-door-service.
Can we obtain information about future growth in Cary and how the Town addresses infrastructure needs, especially streets?
In 2017, the Town Council and community members created the Cary Community Plan that sets the vision for our community’s future. Within this plan, Council and the community members addressed the growing population and how it will put pressure on transportation infrastructure. From the plan:
As development and redevelopment occur throughout Cary, it is important to continually reevaluate the transportation network and services to ensure the system functions and provides adequate access to the locations that people desire to go to.
New growth will have positive impacts on many aspects of the community but also places pressure on the transportation infrastructure to continue to function effectively and efficiently with the additional users.
Each development that is built in Cary, residential and commercial, has to go through a strenuous review by our planners and traffic engineers. These reviews include traffic flow, light schedule, and capacity of streets with projected growth. These reviews often result in improvements by developers. If there is a particular street you are concerned about, our staff is happy to talk with you about what developments may be happening or not happening in the area related to street improvements.
The MOVE Chapter within the Cary Community Plan replaced Cary’s previous Comprehensive Transportation Plan.
To view the full Cary Community Plan, visit: https://www.carync.gov/projects-initiatives/cary-community-plan.
Information about the BRT (Commuter Rail) in the area.
The Wake Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): Western Corridor is approximately 12 miles long, extending from downtown Raleigh to the future Multi-Modal Center in downtown Cary. The preliminary design phase (0 to 30 percent) for the Western Corridor is underway. The final location and number of BRT stations along the corridor, which will include both mixed traffic and dedicated transit lanes, will be determined during this preliminary design phase. As of Summer 2022, the Western Corridor project has reached the 10% design milestone.
To learn more about BRT in our area, visit: https://www.carync.gov/projects-initiatives/project-updates/facilities-projects/western-brt#:~:text=Project%20Overview,Modal%20Center%20in%20downtown%20Cary.
Information on how the Town manages the power grid and handles the area’s growth.
Duke Energy oversees the power grid in the Cary area, and they have a devoted website on this topic: https://www.duke-energy.com/our-company/future/strong-grid?jur=NC02. This website shares the ways that they are working to build a stronger and protected network. If you have any further questions that we can relay to our Duke Energy District Manager, please submit them to email@example.com.
Information about the EPA study featured on WRAL regarding PFAS in drinking water.
Cary is committed to providing high-quality, safe drinking water and closely follows the scientific study of contaminants of emerging concern. Each year Cary tests your drinking water over 100,000 times for many substances, including the contaminants of emerging concern: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4-dioxane. Cary’s drinking water already meets the proposed Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) today because we operate an advanced water treatment facility with multiple-barrier processes, such as ozonation and powdered activated carbon (PAC) treatment.
To learn more about water treatment and emerging contaminants, visit: https://www.carync.gov/services-publications/water-sewer-stormwater/water/water-treatment/emerging-contaminants.
Written copy of the Mayor’s State of Cary
The Mayor’s State of Cary address, originally given in January 2023, is available here: https://www.carync.gov/mayor-council/town-council/state-of-cary.
Early Voting Questions
This week a candidate for Cary Council criticized the council for not having early voting at the Cary Community Center in Bond Park. This prompted questions from the council and answers:
Question – I know in the past that the Town of Cary has paid for early voting. I’m wondering how much we are paying for early voting for this upcoming election. Are we also paying Chatham County to have that location open as well? And do we pay anything to Wake County for the actual election day?
The cost for Wake County early elections at Herb Young is $359,299. The general election costs in Wake County will cost $578,752.23. If there is a runoff in November it will cost $114,772.15 for early voting and $277,963.81 for the general election. These costs cover precinct official wages for training and election day, seasonal temporary staff, polling place rental fees, telephone service charges, equipment delivery fees, polling place supplies, support staff mileage, absentee mailings and postage, ballots, poll books, authorization to vote forms, training manuals, miscellaneous polling place forms, and legal ads. The cost for Chatham County will be $44,093.29.
Question – Who decides where and how many early voting election sites we can have?
Here is the timeline of our interactions re. early voting site decisions with Wake County:
- In November 2022, the Wake County Board of Election reached out to see if we would have an election, filing fees for offices, and if we would like to have early voting. We responded to their request with the information and ‘yes’ to interest in early voting in our municipal elections.
- In January 2023, the Wake County Board of Election asked if we would want one or two early voting sites. We responded ‘one’ based on our practice of past municipal-only elections.
- In May 2023, the Wake County Board of Elections suggested Herb Young Community Center as our early voting location. At that time, we had no reason to contradict their suggestion.
As there may be questions regarding changing the location or adding a location, we had a conversation with the Board of Elections Director today. Their next meeting is Tuesday, July 25 and the Director would be willing to bring forward a change in location for the BOE board’s consideration. The BOE board would have to approve the change at this Tuesday’s meeting.
The last normally scheduled Cary election (non-partisan) was in 2019. At that time there were about 15,500 votes cast. Of those about 3,500 were not on election day. Even though there is a complaint about not enough early voting sites, some might complain about the cost of early voting which, based on previous results is over $135 per vote.
The ballot for Cary’s October 10th elections has been set. The following is a list of candidates in each race:
Harold Weinbrecht (incumbent)
Lori Bush (incumbent)
Don Frantz (incumbent)
Ryan Eades (incumbent)
If a candidate does not get 50% of the vote plus one, then there will be a runoff in November.
It is my practice to endorse incumbents but help all candidates.
Town Manager’s Report
I really enjoyed spending time with you, Council, in Beaufort over the past couple of days at the Chamber Planning Conference. It was nice to have the opportunity to connect with so many of our community partners and hear informative presentations and updates from the speakers.
I am looking forward to having Sean back in the office on Monday; I’m sure you are too.
Have a great weekend.
Update on RFQ for Development of Town-Owned Land in Downtown Cary
We’re very pleased with having received 18 responses to our Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the potential redevelopment of Town-owned properties in Cary’s downtown.
We didn’t know what to expect.
Submittals were comprised of teams that included companies from seven different states including North Carolina but also as far away as New Mexico, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Today’s Cary was built by planners, visionaries, and caring people who, at some point, all came from somewhere else to work together and with the people who came before them, to help make Cary the best community it could be, and we see that same spirit embodied in this effort.
While it’ll be some time before we’ve conducted a thorough review of the responses, at first glance we can say that we’re impressed with both the quantity and quality of the firms that are interested in partnering with our community to think about what the future of Town-owned property downtown could be.
We expect to take several months to fully digest the array of thoughts, skills, and abilities shown in these responses before charting next steps.
Issuing the RFQ was the first step in an as yet uncharted course to determine how and when Town properties might evolve as we continue to implement the Imagine Cary Community Plan – our citizens’ collective vision for Cary’s future.
As for next steps, timelines, and processes moving forward, we’ll be working on answers to those questions over the coming months. The first step is to fully review and digest what’s been submitted, and this is too important to rush. Any timetable we develop will be one that includes lots of citizen involvement and takes into account everything we’re already working on along with the unanticipated issues and opportunities that come our way. What we can say is that we appreciate all of the interest in Cary’s future, and we’ll be staying in touch.
We expect media coverage on this project milestone in the coming weeks.
Three Sold Out Nights with Billy Strings
Fan favorite Billy Strings returned to Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre for three consecutive sold-out performances this past weekend. Over 20,000 fans enjoyed three completely different shows from the Grammy Award-winning artist who has built his reputation on delivering high-energy, dynamic live performances. For the second year in a row, Billy Strings has broken attendance records for Koka Booth Amphitheatre.
Chelsea FC and Wrexham Training at WakeMed Soccer Park
On Tuesday, WakeMed Soccer Park hosted Chelsea FC and Wrexham AFC for open training, giving fans a chance to get an up-close look at how they prepare for a match. Four thousand people had the unique opportunity to take pictures, get autographs, and share stories with some of the world’s best soccer players. Cary worked closely with the North Carolina Football Club to create a first-class experience for these world-renowned clubs.
Cary Participates in Watershed Protection with Triangle Land Conservancy
Cary’s Community Plan values protecting and preserving our natural resources. Watershed protection within the Jordan Lake watershed is one important way Cary contributes to this mission. In cooperation with Triangle Land Conservancy, Cary has committed to providing $250K toward purchasing 248 acres of property for watershed protection in Chatham County. Triangle Land Conservancy purchased the overall acquisition for $3.25M. Located close to Jordan Lake on the New Hope Arm of the lake, this property is upstream of Cary’s water intake facilities. We are very excited about this watershed protection opportunity to collaborate and support our partners with Triangle Land Conservancy to acquire this property for conservation and watershed protection.
We’re Registered! ®
Cary is now the proud holder of registered trademarks for the two versions of the new logo! These trademarks have been and will continue to serve as a symbol that identify Cary as the source of the services it provides.
Cary became the owner of these trademarks as soon as it started using them but having registered them with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Cary’s trademarks now have additional legal protections and Cary has nationwide rights to them. Cary began the registration process when it filed its applications with the USPTO back in March of 2022. Those applications moved through the USPTO’s lengthy approval process before formally achieving registration on June 27, 2023. To help ensure consistent use of these trademarks, staff has created a branding microsite where Council, staff, and contractors can learn about the messaging behind the marks, when and how they should be used, and obtain high quality versions of the marks for use in the appropriate ways. Cary’s Marketing and Legal teams are available should Council or staff have questions related to their use.
Training Drone Pilots and Piloting a Training Program
Last week, FAA-licensed drone pilots and firefighters Jose Mendez, Matt Trapp, and Allen Monds led staff from the Police and Transportation Departments as well as fellow Cary firefighters in a three-day drone training session at Central Carolina Community College Emergency Services Training Center in Sanford. Using National Institute of Standards and Technology small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2400 federal standards to guide a hands-on experience, the three instructors taught participants how to operate drones for scenario-based missions such as missing person searches, suspicious package monitoring, Haz-Mat Rail car identification, tower searches, and beyond-visual-line-of-sight trainings. This initiative is also being developed as a model program to enable Cary to train other agencies throughout the state to use drone technology.
Planning and Zoning Board
Monday, July 24
Cultural Arts Committee
Wednesday, July 26
Thursday, July 27
- A complaint about the grounds around the downtown post office.
- A request to meet with boy scouts.
- A request to meet with a college student for a paper.
- Invitations to several events.
- A complaint about early voting at Herb Young.
- A complaint about grease from a garbage truck on Old Apex Road.
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, Diwali Dance practice, the last regularly scheduled council meeting of July, the opening of RDU Galleria, and the NC Metro Mayors.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.