Harold’s Blog: August 24, 2020

Cary, NC – This week was one of the busiest weeks I have had in a while.

Monday – Moving Ahead

Monday started with calls to council members to hear of questions and concerns about Thursday’s agenda. There were concerns about the multi-family proposal at the corner of Cary Parkway and Evans and questions about the Fenton changes. The developer of the Cary Parkway and Evans proposal decided to pull that item to work with council members about their concerns. Later in the day I met virtually with staff to go over the agenda. Our meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

Monday night I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. Nine of the twelve mayors were in attendance. Absent were the mayors of Raleigh, Knightdale, and Holly Springs. In our round-the-table discussions mayors expressed difficulties they are having with impacts of COVID-19. Mayors also shared some of the nastiness they are experiencing (like what I have blogged about before). While some of the municipalities are in a hold pattern, most of the municipalities seem to be moving forward with plans on capital projects. Cary is certainly in the latter group.

Wednesday – The Story of Cary

Wednesday morning I provided remarks at the Cary Chamber’s Virtual Planning conference. My topics included COVID-19 impacts, and updates on the Obama’s Mayor Pledge, the downtown park, big development projects, finances, and our 150th anniversary celebrations. I was joined by the town manager who added additional comments. Our talk, including questions, lasted thirty minutes.

Wednesday afternoon I participated in a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board. The agenda included a report on the study of RED Priority Bus lanes. The study basically showed that dedicated lanes for buses would be beneficial. The details of how that would work would be in a future study. Staff also reported on a Fayetteville to Raleigh Rail Passenger Feasibility study. It pointed out pros and cons of two existing rail routes, one that would go through Fuquay and another that went further east.  Some of the details included train speed, at grade crossings, potential ridership, cost, etc. The last staff presentation was the 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan which is the region’s long-range transportation plan and includes both a fiscally constrained element as well as an unconstrained vision plan element known as the Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP). All items at this meeting were informational and no decisions were made.

Wednesday night I joined an informational zoom meeting for “The Story of Cary” which is a part of Cary’s 150th celebration. The attendees were writers, historians, and thespians. All were asked to send stories to the writer so that the production could be written. It will be very interesting to see and/or hear all the stories. The meeting concluded after about an hour.

Thursday – Over 100 Conditions

Thursday the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda included 13 consent items, 4 public hearings, and 1 discussion item. One of the public hearings was to add a bank with a drive thru to the development near the corner of Davis Drive and High House on Magness Drive. Council members expressed concerns about the proposal’s front of the building not facing High House.

The only discussion item, the Fenton Development Amendment, was unanimously approved. This development is the largest in Cary’s history and the agreement had over 100 conditions. We expected there would be requests for tweaks to the agreement. These changes, for the most part, included financial partners, fee timing, and increased development height in the interior of the project. Following a closed session, the council meeting concluded after about an hour.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Manager’s Message to Council 

I really enjoyed being with Mayor Weinbrecht earlier this week at the Cary Chamber Planning Conference to update members of our community on Town of Cary initiatives. There was lots of good discussion with the conference participants. Next week at an All Hands with staff, I plan to follow-up on the comment I made about when those that are working remotely will return to town facilities. As I said Wednesday, we are looking well into next year before that will happen. After a thorough conversation with department directors, it was clear that to continue our mission of keeping our employees and citizens safe this was the best decision for us.

Also, here is a memo from Public Safety Director Allan Cain about the deactivation of the Emergency Operations Center later this month that I support. Should you have any questions about the memo please let Allan or I know.

Stay safe,

Sean

Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Weekly Report

Click here for the EOC/COVID-19 weekly update. If you have any questions, please let me know. Highlights include:

  • A total of 10PD compliance calls were reported between 8/13and 8/19with 2related to masks. There were also 7 311 COVID cases from 8/13to 8/19.
  • COVID-19 Cases in Cary: 1,059, up 51 from 1,008, or 5.1% since Aug. 14.
  • The Municipality Cases per 1000 Residents chart continues to illustrate Cary’s fortunate position among the 12 municipalities in Wake County. Although Cary has the second highest population among the municipalities, Cary has been maintaining the second fewest COVID-19 cases,6.16 per 1,000 residents.
  • On Wednesday, August 19, Wake County reported hospitalizations had decreased (84) for the first time in about 7 weeks.
  • This week, daily positive test counts were on a downward trend. Wake County reported 4 days in a row of new daily cases below 100.
  • The Wake County EOC is monitoring school re-openings as some charter and private schools and universities are attending classes in-person. As of mid-week, schools have quarantined a few classrooms and at one school an entire grade was quarantined.

Operational Framework & Update

This week in the weekly operational message from Deputy Town Manager Russ Overton, he recapped some of the highlights from last week’s Council Quarterly meeting and encouraged staff that are struggling with shared computers, networks, and office space now that school is back in session. Today there was a virtual session for parents, students, or education supporters’ colleagues to debrief on how the first few weeks of school have gone.

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s activities outside of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Please take a moment to review the weekly operational report.

Additional Information of Interest

I’ve found the following articles to be particularly interesting this week and wanted to share with you for your reading pleasure:

Departmental Updates

  • Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.
  • Cary150 Task Force approved the logo for the Sesquicentennial Year at their first virtual meeting.
  • This week, Project PHOENIX visited residents at Chatham Forest Apartments to distribute free face masks. Several citizens shared their appreciation.
  • Cary is up to a 76% response rate for the Census.
  • The Zoning Board of Adjustment held their second virtual meeting on August 17. At this meeting two cases were presented, Fifth Third Bank at Searstone and Triangle Montessori Academy. Both cases were approved unanimously by the board. The next ZBOA meeting is scheduled for September 14.
  • Cary Towne Center Phase 1 development plan was submitted for its first round of review. Improvements included are the demolition of the existing mall and portions of the surrounding surface parking lot. Proposed roadway/infrastructure will transform the site into blocks to allow for further mixed-use developments. This development plan also covers the associated public utilities, storm drainage, and parking.
  • The Town Manager’s Office and Public Works met with Toward Zero Waste, a Cary-based non-profit organization working to address solid waste concerns contributing to the waste stream and landfills. Toward Zero Waste shared information about their organization and work, including personal experience and research. Staff will continue discussions regarding potential partnership opportunities in this important area of environmental concern.
  • Wake County approved moving forward on additional discussions regarding the small portion of surplus land adjacent to the Town parcel in Cary.
  • Raleigh approved the Western BRT Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), which is consistent with Cary’s LPA.
  • The Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) held the 12th annual meeting of the I-40 Regional Partnership. The regional business community and NCDOT formed the Partnership to provide focus and engagement on the “Triangle’s Main Street,” the stretch of I-40 between I-85 and I-95 across Orange, Durham, Wake, and Johnston counties. Examining ways to improve the travel experience and identifying low-cost funding opportunities for I-40 and parallel/reliever routes continue to be key focus areas for the Partnership. Given the current funding situation facing our state, these focus areas are more important than ever. The presentation (available here) provides updates on current and future I-40 projects throughout the region including the new regional FAST study.
  • T&F conducted a sight line analysis using our drone at the intersection of Cary Pkwy and Waldo Rood Blvd/Bebington Dr. The drone was used to determine obstructions within the sight line for approaching drivers on Cary Pkwy as the approach Bebington Dr. It was determined that overgrown vegetation between the heights of 10’-18’ are obstructing drivers’ views and must be trimmed back. All vegetation to be trimmed was determined to be in the Right-of-Way which will accelerate our ability to address the issue.
  • We are nearly 75% complete on this year’s construction contract for our Streets Improvement Program.
  • Cary’s water system operations team recently had a unique opportunity to support a new customer in Chatham County by providing a water connection to the Old Chatham Golf Club. The temporary connection was setup and made operational on August 7 and was reinforced with a secondary feed this week. The water connection will supplement onsite water resources used for irrigation, which are vital for greens management at the facility. The Old Chatham Golf Club also plans to install a permanent connection for long-term use.

White Oak Greenway

Field work began this week on the as-built survey for the flood model and certification of the White Oak Creek Greenway. Kimley Horn and Associates will be using this information to complete the work and finalize the project. Survey work includes locations to determine centerline profile of trail and boardwalk, storm pipes, retaining walls, and cross sections at the same locations as the CLOMR. Work is still on schedule to be completed by August 30.

Cary/Apex Treatment Facility –27 Year Service Anniversary (+ Western Wake Regional)

The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility (CAWTF) marked its 27th service anniversary on August 19. The facility began operating in 1993 as a 12-MGD facility and was quickly re-rated to 16-MGD. After 27 years in service, the CAWTF is now a 56-MGD facility and provides advanced water treatment to ensure high quality drinking water is only a tap away for citizens in Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Wake RTP, and RDU Airport. See below to view the evolution of the treatment facility.

In addition, the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility (WWRWRF), marked its 6thserviceanniversary on August 11. The WWRWRF and associated infrastructure projects remains the largest capital endeavor that Cary has completed with approximately $255 million of jointly owned infrastructure with the Town of Apex.

Automated Traffic Signals Performance Measures (ATSPM) System Pilot Project

The pilot program consists of three corridors: Davis Drive, Walnut Street, and Harrison Avenue. Devices and software provided by Miovision, Inc. are used on all three corridors in a variety of set-ups. Thousands of data points will be collected throughout the day, at each intersection along the corridors and sent to Miovision where the data is processed. Staff can review the results of the data and make signal timing decisions based on several charts, graphs, and reports. This week, devices will be installed on Harrison Avenue at two traffic signals that will allow staff to add travel time and speed data to the system data. Harrison Avenue will test a hybrid application that uses both a server-based system with field devices. Walnut Street will not receive any field devices and will, instead, process data only via controller data. Davis Drive has used a device only application for nearly two years and provided great data for our system operations. Miovision performed an analysis of our timing plans based on the data and found no reason to tweak our current plans but their system has been very helpful in looking at the impacts to traffic timing for incidents such as construction and crashes. After the three locations are operational, staff will monitor the program for one year.

EPA Rule for Dental Offices

In 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted a dental amalgam rule requiring dental offices nationwide to document the management of mercury amalgam discharges to public sewer systems. Dental offices that work with amalgam are required to install a filter/separator device in their plumbing for recycling the mercury before it is discharged to the sewer system. Cary’s Pretreatment team, who has been proactively working with new facilities since 2017 to ensure compliance, will support 118 dental facilities identified in our sewer service area by helping them comply and keep mercury out of the sewer system. Currently 65 percent of dental facilities using Cary’s sewer system have completed the one-time compliance reporting form required by EPA. Staff will send a reminder in early September to any dental offices that have not completed the report. Dental offices who have not submitted the form by early October will be contacted by phone to help ensure plumbing requirements and reporting deadlines are met.

 

Mayor’s Mailbag

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A thank you for all I am doing (You’re welcome!)
  • Requests to do more on Carbon Reduction (we are working on it, see previous journal entries)
  • A request for meeting content with the Triangle Community Coalition (Minutes are the responsibility of the town clerk)
  • A thank you for allowing tennis (You’re welcome!)
  • A request to support the police (I support our chief and department 100%!)
  • A complaint that we don’t have a town running track

Get in Touch

Next week’s activities include staff meetings and a virtual meeting with a family about climate change.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 30th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images from Town of Cary.

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