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.
Council Meeting Prep
Monday I contacted council members and the council member elect to hear of any questions or concerns related to the upcoming agenda. There was a clarification question about Jordan Hall, comments about the parking deck agreement with the Rogers development, a question about the street renaming public hearing, and a financing question about Higgins Greenway Phase III.
Later in the day I met with management and staff to go over the questions and the agenda. The meeting took about 20 minutes.
Town Manager One-On-One
My final meeting Monday was my weekly one-on-one with the town manager. We discussed the election, the runoff, and future council relationships. Other topics included the potential future bond and the potential town hall campus redevelopment.
Downtown Cary Park Documentary
Tuesday morning, I did an interview as part of a documentary on the creation of The Downtown Cary Park. We talked about initial ideas for the park from 20 years ago and the impact of the park. There were about a dozen questions and the taping lasted about twenty minutes.
Flying Biscuit Ribbon Cutting
Later Tuesday morning I was part of the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Flying Biscuit at Parkside Town Commons. Instead of a ribbon cutting they decided to have a photo op buttering the biscuits, which was a first for me. I wish them great success at this new location.
Chinese Lantern Festival Flip the Switch Event
Tuesday night I joined council members, county commissioners, representatives, advisory board members, staff, and others for the “flip the switch” event for the Chinese Lantern Festival at Booth Amphitheater.
I made a few remarks, and we did a count down before flipping the switch, and after a few seconds of delay, all the lighted fixtures were illuminated. It took 40 tractor-trailers to deliver the lanterns to Cary after they had arrived on cargo ships from China. Each lantern is created by hand on silk fabric stretched over steel frames and then lit with upwards of hundreds of LED.
Most lanterns were made in Zigong in the Sichuan Province of China which is the lantern capital of China. The spectacular Chinese Dragon floating on Symphony Lake is longer than three school buses at more than 200 feet. It stands 21 feet high and weighs 18,000 pounds. Its head was installed by crane with a 15-person crew!
It is a must see for everyone and is open until mid-January.
On Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board. The agenda had four consent items and three discussion items. The consent included minutes, a Wake Transit Plan Update with a contract award, LAPP (Locally Administered Projects Program) additional funding, and Amendment 2 to the FY2024-2033 TIP (Transportation Improvement Program). Items on consent were approved unanimously.
The first discussion item was a FY2024 2nd quarter Wake Transit Work Plan amendment which was approved unanimously. The other two discussion items were informational and included Safety Performance Measure Targets for 2024 and a Draft 2055 MTP Goals, Objectives, and Performance Measures.
The next meeting of the CAMPO Executive Board will be in January.
Human Relations, Inclusion, & Diversity Task Force
Wednesday night I joined a meeting of the Human Relations, Inclusion, & Diversity Task Force. They discussed events for a task force booth, reviewed their 2024 meeting schedule, talked about their downtown park visit, and discussed a public awareness event for communications. Afterwards I provided an update on council and town activities. The meeting lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Hometown Spirit Award Reception
Thursday afternoon a reception was held to introduce the three finalists for the Hometown Spirit Award. The three finalists were Kara Daniels Hand, Peggy Van Scoyoc, and Frank Yarborough. I was the emcee for the reception which was attended by council members Jack Smith, Ryan Eades, and Carissa Johnson. Here is what I said about each one of the finalists:
Kara Daniels Hand
Kara, your nominators shared that you are a lifelong Cary citizen and are dedicated to your community, promoting hospitality, and preserving traditions that inspire all who know you. Your nominators shared that you are an active member of the First United Methodist Church where you initiated a project in 2022 of selling ham biscuits to the community with the goal of raising money for the Food Bank and local food pantries while continuing the tradition of church members making food together. Kara’s community support, church involvement, and dedication to preserving its historical significance enrich downtown Cary culturally, ensuring traditions thrive and history remains integral.
Your nominators shared that you have had a decade-long commitment to Cary Elementary as the Teacher Appreciation Chair, where you have fostered connections in our community.
Kara’s nominators shared that you are a lifetime Girl Scout who earned the prestigious Gold Award in high school at Cary High School, and you have mentored future leaders through your troop leadership, emphasizing the importance of community service.
Kara’s commitment to service also extends to her work life. Kara is a small business owner with her law practice, which supports individuals and contributes to the community.
Peggy Van Scoyoc
Peggy, your nominators shared that you are a Cary treasure and that you are among Cary’s top historians, showing concern for preservation and working to preserve traditions in our community. For over two decades, Peggy has been compiling oral histories of prominent people in Cary’s history, recently completing her 100th oral history!
Your nominators shared that you demonstrate hospitality to new and established citizens of Cary. As a member of the Friends of the Page‐Walker’s Speakers Bureau, Peggy has spoken to women’s clubs, church groups, senior groups, newcomers’ groups and others about Cary’s history, helping everyone establish a sense of community.
Peggy, your nominators shared that you are a long‐time board member and multiple‐term past president of the Friends of the Page‐Walker and engage in many community outreach events to promote the sense of community. Peggy wrote a popular recurring column about Cary’s history for the Cary Citizen until 2022 when the publication ended its circulation, but she continues to share Cary’s rich history through blog posts, social media, and the Friends’ newsletter.
Frank, your nominators shared that whenever a fellow Caryite is in need, you are always there to offer help or hospitality, saying that a person hardly has to mention a problem and you are already planning how you can help solve it. Your nominators said you are the ultimate host and have never met a stranger, welcoming people into your home and life with laughter and putting everyone at ease. Frank gives joyfully of his resources, time, and talents to his neighbors, friends, and church family without expecting anything other than knowing he made someone’s day better.
Your nominators shared that you coached your son’s special needs baseball team for the Miracle League of the Triangle, where you have been a volunteer for over 25 seasons. Frank is one of the few Hall of Fame coaches for the Miracle League of the Triangle.
Frank, your nominators shared you are proud of your Cary heritage and have worked hard to restore your grandfather’s historic house on South Academy Street. Frank loves connecting with people in Downtown and enjoys talking about his ancestors’ history in Cary.
Frank’s company, AVCON, has provided employment opportunities and exceptional services to companies within and beyond the Triangle area since 1997.
Thursday night the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of November. The meeting included the Hometown Spirit Award winner presentation, the manager’s update, speakers at Public Speaks Out, two public hearings, two discussion items, and a closed session.
In the recognition portion of the meeting, I called on 2022 Hometown Spirit Award winner Bob Moncsko, who opened the envelope and announced that Peggy Van Scoyoc was the Hometown Spirit Award winner for 2023. I presented her with a plaque, and she provided a few words of thanks. While we were very blessed to have three amazing nominees, I was excited for Peggy and her nominees.
The town manager’s report noted that the fences were coming down at the Downtown Cary Park as he spoke and that it would be open to the public starting Friday, November 17th. The ribbon cutting for the park was on the 19th.
During the Public Speaks Out portion of the meeting several residents spoke against a proposed rezoning for the Middleton Townhomes because of a required street cut through.
The consent agenda portion of the meeting unanimously approved several items without discussion which included the Viridis apartments at Green Level across from the proposed Duke Hospital, Jordan Hall renovations for the new fire administration building, and an agreement to build a parking deck next to the Rogers Development.
The first public hearing was for a proposed rezoning for Wheatsbury Drive to remove a fence that was part of a deed restriction when the properties were built. Residents in favor of the rezoning stated that they were fenced off from 40 feet of their property that they were required to pay taxes on. Residents against the proposal listed security concerns and protection of wildlife. A lawyer also spoke for the residents against the proposal. The proposal will go to the Planning and Zoning Board and come back to council for a vote in a few months.
The second public hearing was for a renaming of roads related to the realignment of a portion of Morrisville Carpenter Road. The motion passed unanimously. An additional motion from Ms. Robinson was made to have staff study renaming other streets in the area for naming consistency along each road.
The two discussion items, Higgins Greenway Phase III, and the Sidewalk Request Program for FY2024 were passed unanimously with little discussion.
The council meeting concluded after about two and a half hours.
Interview with Triangle Business Journal
Friday afternoon I was interviewed by TBJ (Triangle Business Journal) about George Jordan and Jordan Gussenhoven (his nephew) who have developed or are developing several projects in downtown Cary including Midtown Square, Chatham Square, Meridian, Williams House, and the Rogers. I told TBJ that George and Jordan took risks and invested in downtown Cary before others.
Sarika Bansal Declared Winner of District D Race
Friday the Wake County Board of Elections certified that Sarika Bansal was the winner of the District D runoff. She received 2760 votes while challenger Rachael Jordan received 2700 votes. Congratulations Sarika and welcome to the council family!
Waverly Place Tree Lighting
Friday night I had the honor of joining Santa and Mrs. Clause in lighting the Christmas tree at Waverly Place. Before and after the ceremony we were entertained by Craig Woodard and the Embers. The ceremony began with Christmas music from the Athens High School Marching Band. I provided a few remarks and introduced Santa and Mrs. Clause. He wished everyone a Merry Christmas, counted down from ten, and threw magic dust on the Christmas tree as it lit. It was a fun time and a great way to begin the holiday season.
Fenton Tree Lighting
Saturday night I was part of the 2nd annual Christmas Tree Lighting event at Fenton. The ceremony started with an Acapulco group of ladies from NC State singing carols. This was followed by 5 ladies from “Elevate” who did a Rockette style dancing to “All I Want for Christmas”. I made remarks along with Fenton Manager Rob Canepa. Then we introduced Santa Clause and Elizabeth Gardner from WRAL. We all did the countdown and lit the tree. There was a great crowd, and everyone seemed to be having a blast.
Downtown Cary Park Opening
The official opening of the Downtown Cary Park was Sunday, November 19th.
The park had events all day long, but my first event was a reception in the Academy Street Pavilion at 2 PM. This was attended by elected officials, former elected officials, and other VIPs.
We then proceeded to the stage of the great lawn for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Remarks were made by the town manager, and the special parks manager, who introduced the Cary Children’s choir for the national anthem. This was followed by a flyover from the Bandit Flight Team.
Afterwards there were remarks from the park manager, and a partner from OJB who designed the park.
I followed them with remarks and introduced our attending VIPs:
Former council member Ed Yerha, former Mayor Glen Lang, former council member Ken George, former council member John Duncan, former council member Marla Dorrel, Congresswoman Deborah Ross, NC Senator and former Mayor Pro-Tem Gale Adcock, NC Senator Jay Chaudhuri, NC Senator Sydney Batch, NC Representative Maria Cervania, NC Representative Allison Dahl, NC Representative Ya Liu, Wake County Commissioner and Vice-Chair Susan Evans, Wake County Commissioner Cheryl Stallings, Morrisville Mayor TJ Cawley, Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert, former Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson, and a delegation from our sister city in County Meath Ireland.
Next I introduced Mayor Pro-Tem Don Frantz who was the main speaker.
Following Don Frantz’s remarks, I gathered all on stage for the ribbon cutting with each of us using giant scissors.
A trumpet and tambourine then led us to the fountain and main square for the Frantz Square dedication.
I had the honor of making remarks dedicating the square. Then Don followed with a few remarks and did the countdown which fully activated the fountain for the first time in two years and eight months.
Words cannot express how happy I am that this park is open. Not only is it an iconic park but it will be a place for creating memories for generations to come. I hope you visit the park soon to make your memories.
Town Manager Update
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I’m planning to take next week off to spend time with my family. And as is our practice on holiday Fridays, there will be no weekly report.
See you Sunday at the ribbon cutting.
Council Meeting Follow-Up
Senior Program Guide: Exceeding the expectations of Cary seniors is incredibly important to us, particularly when it comes to participating in Cary’s parks programming. As such, we will reinstate the printed Senior Program Guide this winter in time for spring registration.
Police Incident: I’m incredibly grateful to Chief Sult and our Police Department for the work they did helping keep the community safe from the threatening active shooter situation a few weeks ago. Based on comments at last night’s meeting, we will continue our after-action analysis and explore how we can do even better in the future.
Middleton Rezoning: The earliest this case could come before Planning and Zoning would be January. Currently, the developer is examining project layout and feasibility, and I anticipate the earliest it will return to Council will be spring 2024.
Road Renaming: Staff will begin developing a framework for the study regarding road name changes along Morrisville Carpenter, Carpenter Fire Station and Good Hope Church. I will update you on the next steps once the framework for the study is developed.
Chinese Lantern Festival Preview
On Tuesday evening, at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Mayor Weinbrecht and Councilmembers Robinson, Smith, Kohn-Johnson, and Eades ceremoniously “flipped the switch,” to kick off Cary’s 8th annual North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival. The festival opens to the public today, November 17, and runs nightly through January 14, which is a week longer than years past.
Waste To Wonder
This week, Councilmember Jennifer Robinson and staff attended the NC State Waste to Advanced Resources conference. Councilmember Robinson represented Cary and SAS on a panel discussing the possibilities of effective technologies to support waste characterizations, data, and government. Assistant Town Manager Danna Widmar provided welcoming remarks to the 200 stakeholders from government, industry, and academia, and Srijana Guilford, Waste Strategy and Community Impact Consultant, co-led a focus group regarding sourcing and handling materials to gather feedback for research projects.
Recognizing and Remembering Our Veterans
Last week, Cary citizens gathered at Veterans Freedom Park to observe Veterans Day and honor military veterans. Councilmember Carissa Kohn-Johnson read the Proclamation and remarks were given by Congresswoman Deborah Ross and Councilmember Jack Smith, who also emceed the event. Helen Nelson, State Commander for North Carolina Veterans of Foreign Wars, gave the primary address.
Then on Friday, November 3, Cary honored the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces at its Annual Veterans Luncheon event. Over 300 veterans and their families were welcomed to Prestonwood Country Club and treated to a patriotic program and lunch, along with entertainment. Councilmember Jack Smith served as the Master of Ceremonies. Keynote Speaker George Wade Carmichael Jr. followed with a personal and emotional speech about his service. Special guests also included Councilmember Jennifer Robinson, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, and Fallon Strickland, Outreach Coordinator for the Office of Wiley Nickel.
International Visitors Learn About Cary Sister Cities Program
On Monday, a delegation from Timor-Leste met at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center with Micheàl Lynch, Chair of Cary Sister Cities, and staff member Kris Carmichael to learn about Cary’s Sister City program. International Focus hosted the group of eight visitors as part of a three-week long International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) exchange – U.S. Foreign Policy in the Indo-Pacific – sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
RecTrac PRCR Registration System Implemented
The first step of implementing Cary’s new parks registration system, the account creation communication plan, was presented to the Senior Advisory Board, Information Services Advisory Board and PRCR Advisory Board in early November. The presentations were well received, the members were pleased to hear about the registration system transition, and there was good interaction with the members of each board. Citizen account creation in the new system, RecTrac, is anticipated to begin in early December with more details being shared with citizens in the coming weeks.
2023 Holiday Decorations are Coming
As the brisk breeze ushers in the holiday season, it’s clear that Cary is preparing to adorn the town. The elves have commenced the transformation, and it will be concluded by November 30. We look forward to seeing you explore and relish the enchanting wonderland. Feel free to share your pictures on social media. An interactive map of the decorations can be found on the webpage Downtown Cary Decorations.
2023 ACC Soccer Championships
In the past two weeks, WakeMed Soccer Park hosted four soccer matches as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships! Over 5,000 spectators traveled from all over the East Coast to experience Cary and one of the nation’s top soccer landmarks. Florida State (Women’s) and Clemson (Men’s) were crowned victorious.
Citizen’s Police Academy Graduation
On November 8, the Police Department graduated 14 students from its Citizens Police Academy (CPA). The CPA is a 10-week free program offered to Cary residents and affords attendees a close-up view of the Police Department. The course is a prerequisite for citizens interested in becoming members of the police department’s Citizens Assisting Police (CAP) team.
Sargent Travis Gresham Graduates from Southern Police Institute
On November 10th, Sergeant Travis Gresham graduated from the Southern Police Institute’s 150th Administrative Officers Course through the University of Louisville at Kentucky. During his cohort in Louisville, Travis had the distinction of holding the office of Class Vice President, an honor he was elected to hold by his classmates. Please join us as we extend hearty congratulations to Travis on achieving this milestone in his career.
National Pill Takeback Day
On Saturday, October 28, Cary Police hosted the bi-annual National Pill Takeback event at two locations: Town Hall campus in front of the PD and Wegmans on Davis Dr. A total of 120 lbs. of medication was collected and disposed of with the assistance of the State Bureau Investigations (SBI). A huge thank you to Officer Tim Vibert and Officer Ed Ross for their assistance with this program and also to Sergeant Matthew Pearson and Detective Rebecca Platz for their planning efforts and continued commitment to this program.
Weighing in on Compost Carts
Cary is one of the first municipalities in North Carolina to demo Compost Now’s prototype for an access-controlled drop-off receptacle and service app. Given the community’s growing interest in composting, Cary is proud to have been invited to provide insight on design and use, showcasing how this system can enhance municipal solid wastes services.
Apex Friendship Students Visit Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility
Damon Forney, Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility (WWRWRF) Manager, led science students during a recent site tour from Apex Friendship High School. Damon and the students had a great time discussing the WWRWRF’s role in serving the community while providing advanced wastewater treatment that supports our natural environment.
Cary Police Awarded Tenth CALEA Reaccreditation
Cary Police Department was awarded its tenth CALEA advanced law enforcement accreditation during the 2023 Fall CALEA Conference in Bellevue, Washington. Chief Terry Sult, Accreditation Manager Lieutenant Frank Schelah, and Deputy Chief Shawn Anderson represented the department for the Mid-Atlantic commission hearing and review.
NCDOT Meeting for Trinity Road Railroad Grade Separation Project on Monday, November 20
On Monday, NCDOT will conduct a public meeting at Herb Young Community Center to discuss the Trinity Road Railroad Grade Separation project. The project will close the at-grade (i.e. driving over the tracks) railroad crossing on Trinity Road and construct a vehicular bridge over the North Carolina Railroad. It is located at the intersection of Trinity Road and E. Chatham Street. NCDOT staff will be available to review the project and answer questions. Cary staff will also be in attendance. The Trinity Road Rail Improvement Project Page contains maps, plans, project contact information, and the option to leave comments if you cannot attend the in-person open house between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Monday.
Draft Urban Forest Master Plan Open for Public Comment
Proactive in our commitment to trees, Cary has drafted long-term strategies to guide urban forest management and conservation efforts in the form of an Urban Forest Master Plan. Valuing citizen input, staff have invited the public to learn more about our community’s canopy and review the draft plan with the option to provide comments from November 6 until December 6.
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting on December 6
A rezoning meeting for Sterling West subdivision will take place virtually on December 6 at 6:00 p.m.
Planning and Zoning Board
Monday, November 27
Cultural Arts Committee
Wednesday, November, 29
- Concerns about a rezoning proposal for Wheatsbury Drive
- Invitations to several events
- Complaints about a rezoning proposal for Middleton Avenue townhomes
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, and the Thanksgiving holiday. I have so many blessings and too many to thank in this post, but I do want to thank the great citizens of Cary who have helped shape this community to be one of the best in the nation. Thank you and have a wonderful holiday!
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 26th, 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 email@example.com.