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.
State of Cary Prep
Monday I met with the town clerk to go over what information I will need from staff to write next year’s State of Cary address. I will probably start writing that address in late December.
Later Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We talked mostly about the upcoming work session and the potential bond items.
NC Senator Adcock Meeting
Tuesday evening, I met with NC Senator Adcock who was formerly Mayor Pro-Tem in Cary. We are good friends so most of the meeting was playing catch up. We also talked about upcoming challenges and Cary’s future.
Election Day Runoff for District D
Tuesday was the runoff for Cary Council District D. With 100% of the votes Sarika Bansal had a 67-vote lead over Rachael Jordan. There were 112 absentee ballots left to be counted which made the race too close to call. The Board of Elections is scheduled to count the remaining votes and declare a winner on November 17th.
Wednesday night I met with a consultant who will be helping in the marketing of Cary. This is important as Cary continues to attract key businesses from all over the world.
Council Staff Quarterly Meeting
Thursday, I joined council members Frantz, Smith, Robinson, Eades, and Johnson along with about 30 members of staff for the Fiscal Year 2024 Quarter One meeting. The meeting lasted about four and a half hours. Here are a few of the takeaways presented by staff:
Financial Update and Inclusive Procurement
- Cary is in excellent financial condition.
- Cary has opportunities for growth and maturity in financial management.
- Establishing an inclusive procurement process positively impacts Cary’s community and the economic growth of minority businesses.
- Cary is well positioned from an environmental stance.
- Cary is formulating a collective strategy.
- Solar and vehicle electrification are high impact environmental strategies.
- Cary created a loose-leaf collection boutique service that has been popular among citizens.
- The more trees we plant the higher the leaf volume will be, and there were 20,000,000 pounds of leaves collected last year and turned into compost.
- The Public Works operational approach allows for operational and environmental flexibility.
Capital and Community Projects
- Staff provided an update on the 2019 Shaping Cary’s Tomorrow Bond Projects that were planned between 2020 to 2024. Annie Jones Courts Replacement, Dunham Park Tennis Courts Replacement, Open Space Land Acquisition, and Penny Road School Park Refurbishment are complete. In addition, Downtown Cary Park, and Neighborhood Parks at Carpenter Fire Station Road and McCrimmon Parkway are nearing completion.
- Staff shared highlights from capital and community projects with progress during the last quarter.
- Development patterns remain consistent with the Imagine Cary Community Plan.
- Projects are clustered as primarily large developments or small developments.
- Staff discussed plans for more parking in downtown Cary.
Here are some additional points I noted in presentations and discussions:
- Rezoning cases approved have been trending downward the last few years.
- This quarter 21 rezoning requests were made to staff resulting in 3 submittals. That is consistent with the roughly 90% of requests never making it to the council.
- Quarter one had 66 apartments/condos, 62 detached, and 4600 square feet of commercial approved.
- The parking deck by the Rogers is moving forward.
- The Massey project on Byrum has cleared ground for development.
- The Meridian project on East Chatham has cleared ground for development.
- The two breweries and a patio on West Chatham are open.
Capital and Community Projects
- South Harrison Improvements and nearby roads are nearing completion.
- USA Baseball Indoor training facility is over 90% complete.
- Northwest Maynard Road Water Main and Sidewalk project from High House to Old Apex is underway. Service will not be disrupted.
- Higgins greenway Phase III from existing end to Kildaire begins construction soon.
- The Old Apex Road Water Line from Cary Parkway to Maynard will begin construction in summer of 2024. It will include 1000 feet of sidewalk.
- The PRCR Master Plan and Open Space Plan will be our guide for open space, parks, greenways, and programs for the next 10 years.
- An assessment of open space, programming, parks, assets, greenways, and trails will be part of master plans. It will include surveys, community events, and focus groups. Public input will begin in the spring.
- The town only has three existing community centers: Bond Park, Herb Young, and Middle Creek. None constructed in twenty years.
- The town has conceptualized two new centers: Mills Park and The Centre at South Hills. Thousands of people have participated in online surveys, workshops, or as part of a board or commission.
- A proposed base program for community centers would include office-lobby-support space, senior center, fitness area, weight training and group exercise, flexible courts, locker rooms, multipurpose rooms, classrooms, catering/teaching kitchen, wellness bar, adventure walking track, child watch, indoor play areas, and outdoor amenities.
- The Centre, which would be located on the South Hills mall site, would have a Community Center, Sports Center, and an Arena. Wake County has committed $75 million for this project. If approved by voters, it would be one of a kind. One of the nation’s top consultants said: “No other comparable facilities combine a sports center, community center, arena, and structured parking on multiple levels. What Cary is doing in INNOVATIVE and ICONIC.”
- The council will have a work session on the Mills Park center and The Centre in the spring of 2024. A potential bond referendum would be in the fall of 2024 but has yet to be decided by the council.
- The tennis center expansion would have 30 pickleball courts, a new clubhouse with the NC Tennis Hall of Fame, and facility improvements to allow high professional tournaments.
- Our environmental initiatives come from consultants Kim Lungren and Associates, staff, advisory board members, and citizens.
- The town hired a new Energy Manager, Sara Caliendo.
- The Count Me In Cary program had 3 meetings with 50-75 stakeholder; a meeting with 6 climate ambassadors and a coordinator; 25 community events; 15 presentations; 2 focus groups for renters and seniors; 2 workshops with police, fire, and public works; and 3553 completed surveys.
- 67% of citizens would be willing to install solar but have barriers such as financing and vetted contractors.
- 64% of citizens would be willing to purchase or lease an electric vehicle but have cost barriers.
- Cary’s energy programs today reduce energy and maximize efficiency in buildings community wide. Our goal is to require no new fossil fuel buildings and systems throughout Cary.
- We are currently creating our climate action strategy. Our high impact strategies include solar energy, building efficiency, and vehicle electrification.
- 80 town buildings have been studied for solar and half are solar ready. We will begin a phased installation over the coming years.
- The solar on USA baseball indoor facility will save enough power to provide electricity for up to 25 homes a year which is equivalent to 169 acres of forest.
- Residential solar installations continue to increase.
- Currently Cary has 7 electric police vehicles, 5 electric town vehicles, 1 electric cargo van, and 72 hybrid vehicles.
- If Cary’s fleet were totally electric today, we wouldn’t be able to get enough electricity from Duke to charge the vehicles.
- The town is retrofitting several vehicles with propane fuel tanks.
- Cary will have the first electric recycling truck in the southeast. It will arrive in the spring of 2024.
- Cary will have an electric fire truck in 2024/2025. Only four other communities in the US have electric fire trucks.
Loose Leaf Collection
- A mature, healthy tree can have between 100,000 and 200,000 leaves.
- One leaf weigh approximately .01 pounds. Last season Cary collected 20,000,000 pounds of leaves.
- The amount of leaves Cary collected would have covered the Eifel Tower.
- Cary is one of the few communities in the region that still collects leaves.
- Collections in the last ten years have shown an increase of approximately 500,000 pounds of leaves per year.
- Leaf trucks are also used for storm response such as snow. If it snows during leaf collection, then leaf collection will be suspended. Workers could also be pulled from leaf collection for other emergencies such as water main breaks.
- Cary leaves are turned into compost.
At the end of the quarterly I took a few moments to recognize outgoing council member Don Frantz who has served District B the last 16 years. In my comments I noted that he has had an incredible impact on downtown and was the biggest advocate for the downtown park. Who knows what downtown Cary would be like if he had not served on council. One thing for sure, it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is today. Once I finished my comments, I made a motion to name the downtown square around the fountain Frantz Square. It was seconded by Council member Robinson and passed unanimously. I look forward to dedicating Frantz Square during the park opening on November 19th.
Council Member Elect Meeting
Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of talking with council member elect Michelle Craig. We spent an hour getting to know each other better. I found that she has a PhD in Chemistry and will soon be teaching full time in the Wake County School system. Her passions fit with top Cary priorities: affordable housing, energy sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Parkside Commons Christmas Tree Lighting Event
Saturday night I visited Parkside Commons in Cary for the annual tree lighting event which was from 4 – 7 pm. There were trolley rides, face painting, holiday vendors, Santa Clause, and more. It was a great time to kick off the holiday season. I talked and had pictures taken with several citizens while I was there including Dave Brudy the CEO of the group that owns Parkside Commons. At dusk I invited all the kids up to help me count down and flip the big switch to light the Christmas tree.
It was great fun and the first of four tree lightings I will do this year. I will also be doing Menorah lighting in December.
Wednesday, November 15, 6 p.m.
Thursday, November 16, 6:30 p.m.
- Concerns about the potential shooter that was arrested by the Cary police.
- A complaint about downtown development removing older buildings and pushing out smaller businesses.
- A thanks to one of the Detective Young in our police department.
- A complaint about recycling bin location after pickup.
- A request to meet with seniors at town hall one evening.
- A request for help with a building permit.
- A complaint about plans to remove the Park West movie theater (that is in Morrisville and not in Cary).
- A request to send a document to Tim Sweeney of Epic Games.
- A request to support a rezoning on Whatsbury Drive.
- A thank you to officer Melissa May for going beyond the call of duty.
- A request to protect our health and environment.
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a downtown park documentary taping, a ribbon cutting, the Chinese Lantern Festival Preview event, a CAMPO meeting, a Human Relations, Inclusion, & Diversity Task Force meeting, a meeting about affordable housing, a council meeting, the Waverly Christmas tree lighting event, and the Christmas tree lighting at Fenton, and the Downtown Cary Park Ribbon Cutting.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 19th, 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.