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 attempted to contact each council member and the council member elect about Thursday’s regular meeting agenda. There was a question about the Gas Utility Franchise agreement on the Consent Agenda. In addition, two council members expressed a concern about a proposed joint use agreement with Wake County Public Schools on a ballfield for the future Morrisville High School.
Town Manager One-On-One
Monday evening I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We talked about the outcome of Cary’s election, the runoff in District D, and what that might mean. We also discussed how our roles will change with the loss of experience on council.
Tuesday the council held a work session on council priorities, future council meetings, and the downtown park. Here are some takeaways from the work session:
- The council will hold a work session on December 14. The purpose would be to present a brief orientation of council policies and procedures and to decide if there should be changes. The work session will not replace individual meetings with new council members to discuss legal implications and awareness of being a council member.
- Downtown Cary Park manager presented slides on how we transition from construction to operations.
- Concerns include learning parking habits after the park opens. We will probably bring back Walker Consultants to update the parking plan.
- There will be a smart gate pilot at the library parking deck. Construction of this will begin on November 6th. Other parking decks that will have smart parking include the Harrison/Chatham deck and the Cedar Street deck.
- We will be managing event parking differently using Car Park.
- There will be new public parking signage.
- Some of the issues that may occur with the new park will include complaints about traffic, noise, homelessness, special events, and the social district.
- Downtown trolleys were sent back because they did not meet ADA standards.
- There will be cameras in the park. The police department does not permanently install cameras but works with others who have cameras installed. Data from cameras can be used to solve crimes.
The calendar for the remainder of the year includes a quarterly meeting on November 9th, an Organizational meeting (swearing in of elected officials) on December 5th, a work session on legal matters on December 14th, and a council meeting also on December 14th.
We expect big crowds at the park for a few months. We will consistently monitor and address unexpected issues as they arise. Having said all that, I am excited about the opening of the Downtown Cary Park!
Wednesday I joined the town manager in a workshop held by a local engineering firm. They were interested in learning how to relate to management, staff, and elected officials. After the workshop and lunch we had a quick tour of the downtown park.
The last regularly scheduled council meeting of October had two presentations, five consent items, one public hearing, and three discussion items.
The first presentation was a proclamation honoring Koka Booth who passed in early October. Several members of his family were in attendance and his son Scott spoke. Cary had flags staff for twelve days to honor each of the years he served.
Our second presentation was for Cary Band Day. This was the 64th Cary Band Day and this year marks the 102nd year of the Cary Band.
The consent agenda included:
- A bid award for the Howland Avenue Water Main Replacement project
- The FY 2023 Annual Utility Reimbursements
- An appointment of an Information Services Advisory Board member
- The adoption of an Ordinance granting the Gas Utility Franchise
The consent agenda was approved unanimously with discussion.
Public Speaks Out had several speakers representing the Pickleball Community. They criticized Cary and our park system and said they wanted courts now. There was also a lady and her son who criticized the town for not having enough affordable housing.
The only Public Hearing was for SV Temple on Chapel Hill Road to allow for more parking. There were no speakers, and this will go to the Planning and Zoning Board for their review.
The first discussion item was to accept a federal grant of $1 million for the “My Tree, Our Tree” program. With this grant award, staff estimates that Cary will provide 10,000 more trees in the next five years, or approximately 2,000 per year, for planting. Needless to say, it was unanimously approved.
Our second discussion item was to partner with Wake County Public Schools and receive $1.25 million for conversion of Baseball field #3 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex to artificial turf. This passed 5-2 with Bush and Robinson dissenting.
Our last item for discussion was the project construction bid award converting USA Baseball National Training Complex’s Fields #3 and #4 to artificial turf. This passed unanimously.
NC Metro Mayors
While the NC Metro Mayors didn’t meet on Friday there was a summary of legislative actions sent by KTS Strategies. This included the adjournment of session:
Redistricting Maps Approved
This week, the General Assembly voted to approve the new North Carolina House, Senate, and U.S. Congressional maps for the 2024 elections. These maps became Session Law after votes on Wednesday. Redistricting bills are not subject to signature or veto by the Governor. North Carolina’s current 14-seat U.S. House delegation consists of an even 7-7 split between Republicans and Democrats. Based on data from previous election cycles, the new congressional map is predicted to create 10 likely Republican districts, 3 likely Democrat districts, and 1 competitive swing district. The House and Senate maps are also predicted to result in Republican majorities.
Top Republican leaders in the North Carolina House have consolidated their support around Representative Destin Hall (R-Caldwell) to succeed current House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) once his term is complete. There have been many discussions this year about who would become the next speaker, as Moore has said this two-year term leading the chamber would be his last. Moore has held the position for a record five two-year terms. Hall, the current House Rules Committee chair, and Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) have been the leading candidates to replace Moore. On Wednesday, the two men along with other House GOP leaders told a Republican caucus meeting that they supported a plan for Hall to become the caucus nominee for the next speaker. If ultimately backed by the caucus and elected by a majority in the 120-seat chamber, Hall said he would select Bell as House Rules Chairman.
On October 25th, the House and Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 760 to officially adjourn the 2023 Regular Session of the North Carolina General Assembly. Lawmakers will reconvene once a month, starting on November 29th, to consider a limited number of items. Oversight and Interim Committee hearings will take place over the next few weeks. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said on Wednesday that these would likely be non-voting sessions, and he anticipates that next votes will take place when short session begins on April 24th, 2024.
Saturday morning I read a proclamation at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event held at Fenton:
“DECLARING OCTOBER BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH IN CARY
WHEREAS, far too many Americans face the overwhelming shock of a breast cancer diagnosis each year. They are flooded with new information, worried about loved ones, and at times unable to afford treatment—all the while staring down some of life’s toughest questions. Unfortunately, many of us know someone or have family members who have or have had cancer. One in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime, including an expected 297,790 just this year, and one in 833 men will be diagnosed in their lifetime, including an expected 2,800 new cases this year; and
WHEREAS, The American Cancer Society started Making Strides Against Breast Cancer to unite communities, companies, and individuals with a collective goal to end breast cancer as we know it. The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a celebration of courage and hope, a movement uniting communities to end breast cancer for everyone; and
WHEREAS, affordable access to screenings and early detection for all women are essential components in fighting breast cancer. ACS has enhanced digital offerings available to anyone across the nation, including one-on-one breast cancer patient support services and the use of video chat to safely connect patients, caregivers, and family members with valuable services and resources through the ACS website, in addition to a 24/7 helpline. Because of increased breast cancer screenings, earlier detection, and better treatments, mortality rates for breast cancer have decreased, life expectancy has increased, late-stage cancer diagnoses decreased, and five-year survival rates have increased; and
WHEREAS, Making Strides is the nation’s largest and most impactful breast cancer movement – providing a supportive community for courageous breast cancer survivors and metastatic breast cancer thrivers, caregivers, and families alike.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Harold Weinbrecht, Jr., Mayor of Cary, North Carolina, on behalf of the Cary Council, do hereby proclaim October 2023 as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Cary. I urge everyone to support ACS and Making Strides of the Triangle in the fight against Breast Cancer.
PROCLAIMED this 28th day of October, 2023.”
After reading the proclamation I joined the thousands in a 5K walk around Fenton. What a great crowd and great event.
District D Runoff Misinformation
I don’t like to get into negative politics because it is not something I believe in and does not serve the citizens of Cary. However in the best interest of the citizens, I feel obligated to let people know of a post where misinformation is being spread to alarm and confuse citizens. A citizen sent this post to me:
To clarify, the current council has 2 Democrats, 1 Republican, and 4 Independents. Two of the Independents were Republicans several years ago but changed because they realized partisanship was divisive and one of those lost their bid for re-election. For the record, I am a left-of-center Independent. I have been described as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. This council has worked very well together because we kept partisan politics out of local government. Partisanship has been proven to be divisive and destructive which is evident in many municipalities, state, and national governments. This council leads without misinformation and has been open and honest with its citizens. The Cary Council represents everyone regardless of their political leanings. It doesn’t take a Democrat or a Republican to put out fires, keep us safe, provide clean drinking water, or pick up garbage. It’s unfortunate that some want our council to head in a partisan direction to the detriment of the majority of the citizens. We are better than this!
Factually, you should know that we are addressing all the items mentioned in the post. We are moving faster than most municipalities in the state, region, and nation.
Town Manager’s Report
With Halloween falling on a weekday this year, I want to remind everyone that the Town doesn’t regulate when, or whether, kids trick-or-treat. In my experience, most Cary neighborhoods do host trick-or-treating on October 31st.
As for special, family-oriented Halloween events, the Town’s activities will be held this weekend.
Tonight at Bond Park, the Cary Teen Council will host its first-ever “Haunted Walk” along park trails, while the annual Pumpkin Flotilla will take place at Bond Lake.
On Saturday, The Cary Players will be telling ghost stories at the Page-Walker. And at the old library site, you can stop by the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin and carve it at one of our stations. That’s followed by an outdoor showing of “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
For indoor movies, The Cary Theater will be showing the Halloween classics “Ghostbusters,” “Carrie,” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Switching gears and as part of national fire prevention month, we’re hosting open houses at our nine fire stations this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Council, staff, and our citizens are invited to come tour the stations, meet our firefighters, and see all the different types of vehicles and equipment we use to help keep Cary safe.
There’s always something happening in Cary, and I know Council joins me in appreciation of the Town staff who work every day to make it such an enjoyable place to live.
Davis Drive Elementary School Visits Town Hall
This week, first graders from Davis Drive Elementary School visited Town Hall to learn from their District A Representative, Councilmember Jennifer Bryson-Robinson, about Cary’s government and how it affects their lives. While on Town Hall Campus, they also visited the Police Department and the 911 Communications Center.
NCLM and SOG Film Mock Council Meeting
This morning, North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM) and UNC’s School of Government (SOG) filmed a mock council meeting in chambers as part of UNC’s Essentials of Municipal Government course. The classes are designed to prepare those new to elected office for a successful transition to government. We were happy to host the group and provide space for a critical component of this course, which was an important part of the journey for many Cary councilmembers.
Final Climate Advisory Stakeholder Meeting
Cary’s Sustainability & Climate Action Strategy reached a major milestone this week when the Climate Action Advisory Stakeholder Group completed its final review. Nearly 50 staff and community members gathered for tactical discussions about implementation steps for priority actions. Realistic strategies for staff and community champions are now identified regarding Energy, Water Infrastructure, Transportation & Mobility, Solid Waste, Community, and Natural Resources.
Celebrating Cary’s Commitment to Trees Internationally
Cary’s Urban Forest program reached international heights this week. At Bond Park, staff coordinated a unique tree planting event in collaboration with international guest, Katiravan Subarayan. This tree planting pioneer has pledged to “nurture nature” by planting a tree in every country in the world. Through his efforts, Cary gained two new native trees and will be a featured example of climate action through our innovative natural resource initiatives. In addition, Leslie Moorman, our new Urban Forester joined over 1,000 professionals from across the globe in Washington D.C. for the World Forum on Urban Forests.
Commemorating the Harvest with Community and Education
Cary’s urban agriculture programs were highlighted this week with festivities and service learning. At the Senior Center Community Garden, 21 volunteers gathered for fall maintenance and native plant education. Thanks to our volunteers and Cary-sourced leaf mulch, this community gathering space in the heart of Bond Park is now ready for winter weather with amended soils and healthy pollinator plantings. Across town in Carpenter’s historic district, Good Hope Farm celebrated Cary’s agricultural legacy at the October Harvest Fest. Agritourism activities, environmental education, farm tours, and family-friendly fun attracted over 1,000 guests to experience regenerative farming in Cary.
Denise Dickens Receives NCAEA Award
On Sunday, the North Carolina Art Education Association (NCAEA) recognized Cary’s Denise Dickens with the distinguished “Friends of the Arts Award.” Presented at the association’s annual conference, attended by hundreds of art educators from across the state, this award recognizes an individual outside of the education field “who has made significant contributions to the visual arts in North Carolina.” Denise was nominated by Trish Klenow, an art teacher at Green Level High School. Denise and Trish have collaborated to provide art students at Green Level opportunities to assist with the creation and ongoing maintenance of Patrick Dougherty’s larger than life willow sculpture at Cary’s Carpenter Park.
The 8th annual Zombiepalooza festival brought another sold out crowd to The Cary last Friday. North Carolina filmmakers and residents were encouraged to submit a 5-minute or less family-friendly zombie short film to the competition. Fans cheered and laughed at this year’s zombie short films and enthusiastically voted for their favorite! We awarded prizes for the Best Zombie Short (Dead Delivery directed by Jordan Pollard) and People’s Choice (The Cupcake Killer directed by Kyle Jones).
White Oak Church Road Water Main Construction Update
Construction of the White Oak Church Road Water Main project has completed the installation of 3,200-feet of 16-inch water main from White Oak Elementary to Vandiver Way, just south of Morrisville Parkway. The water main is now active and closes a gap in the water system which will improve operations, water quality, and fire protection for the surrounding area. The construction involves an overnight crossing of the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) back in July. In coordination with Wake County, the project also provides a drinking fountain at the ATT White Oak Church Road trailhead access point.
Urban Land Institute’s Urban Plan for Public Officials Workshop
The Triangle Community Coalition (TCC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Triangle hosted an Urban Planning Workshop for staff and elected officials from Cary, Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, and Wake Forest on Friday. Cary staff were represented by Assistant Development Services Director Rob Wilson and Development Review Manager Lora Greco. The intensive day-long workshop was a competition between development teams to prepare the most attractive response to a Request for Development Proposals for a fictitious 6-block redevelopment scenario. Teams explored various buildouts that incorporated a limited 3-year timeframe for development, a detailed pro forma, and multiple concerns from neighbors and community organizations. The Cary-Wake Forest team proposal was selected by the City Council!
Sears Farm Road Spot Traffic Safety Improvements
New pavement markings were installed along Sears Farm Road to complete the pedestrian mobility and traffic calming improvements along that corridor. The combination of new buffered bicycle lane markings, speed humps, and pedestrian crosswalks was conceived and funded through the Spot Traffic Safety Program in response to citizen concerns about traffic safety. Staff collaborated to use resources from the annual Streets Maintenance Program to complete the work economically and with a reduced impact to the community. Other traffic safety improvements in the area continue to be implemented, including rectangular rapid flashing beacons for the new greenway crossing of Green Hope School Road, which will be installed this Fall.
Higgins Greenway – Phase IV Public Meeting
A public meeting for Higgins Greenway – Phase IV is planned for November 29th between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Cary Arts Center. This project will extend Higgins Greenway Phase III, scheduled to begin construction next spring, into downtown Cary. Project highlights include utility upgrades, aesthetic enhancements, and increased safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
Senior Advisory Board
Wednesday, November 1
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting
Wednesday, November 1
- A request to help with an Eagle Scout project.
- A request to attend the opening of the Flying Biscuit Café.
- A request for Chapel Hill Road Mobility Study data.
- A complaint about the Dillard Drive and Meeting Street intersection.
- A complaint about too many apartments in Cary.
- Thank you for the tribute for Koka Booth.
- A complaint that we don’t have enough pickleball courts.
Next week’s activities staff meetings, a meeting of the Atlantic Tire Board Championships, the Rise and Shine with Ted Abernathy presentation, and a Veterans Luncheon.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 5th, 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.