Harold’s Blog – October 12, 2020

Cary, NC — This week consisted of virtual events and meetings.

Monday – Public Safety, Finances & Election Preparation

Monday started with a trip to town hall to sign financial documents. These documents will allow the town to purchase an $800,000 fire truck with an extension ladder.

After the financial meeting I had my weekly one-on-one meeting with the town manager. Topics included the next quarterly meeting and preparation for potential post-election issues.

My last event Monday was a fundraiser for North Carolina legislator Gale Adcock who was Cary’s Mayor Pro-Tem several years ago. The event was held virtually with Chief Justice Cheri Beasley as the special guest. She spoke on the importance of voting and on “down ballot” races.

She suggested that we start on the back side of the ballot first. She also noted that North Carolina has the fourth longest ballot in the country. Gale Adcock followed with questions and answers about all sorts of issues. Her depth of knowledge is so very valuable in her position. We are blessed to have Justice Beasley and Representative Adcock serving us.

Tuesday – Cary 101 Kicks Off with Virtual Event

Tuesday I provided opening remarks for “Cary 101,” formerly known as Cary’s School of Government. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:

“… In 2003, Cary 101 was created to be a citizen’s college and provide opportunities for citizens to learn about their government. Each session will give you insight to your local government and the services that we provide to our community. After graduating from this program, you’ll have knowledge to be an ambassador in our community. I hope this program is just the beginning of your civic service.

Throughout the year, Cary has multiple opportunities to volunteer with the Town. Currently, we are accepting applications for our committees to Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Advisory Board. Information about all volunteer opportunities, including serving on our advisory boards, are located on our website. Many Cary 101 graduates also volunteer their time with community nonprofits and their HOAs. These organizations benefit from having citizen ambassadors, like yourselves, involved to be knowledgeable about how to work with our government and share resources that you learn about through these sessions. …”

Staff presentations followed and focused on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic including impacts it has had on the town. The meeting lasted about two hours.

Wednesday/Thursday – SAS Championship Pro-Am

Wednesday and Thursday I joined council member Smith, Town manager Stegall, and Chamber President Johnson in the SAS Championship Pro-Am. Our professional on Wednesday was Billy Mayfair and Thursday was Dicky Pride. We had a wonderful time. I was blessed to have this opportunity even though I had to play with a broken finger.

Thursday afternoon I taped the Mayor’s welcome message for the golf channel. This time we taped the message outside which was a first. According to the producer, I was “perfect” on the first take.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Manager’s Message to Council

Let me begin by thanking Russ and the rest of the team for helping keep everything moving forward last week during my vacation. As you know and support, Council, I, along with many, many researchers believe in the necessity of time away. There are countless benefits personally but also professionally, and we have staff and practices in place to make it possible for anyone in our organization to get the rest and revitalization they need in order to keep doing great work.

Core to our democracy and a foundation for why we are all in public service is Election season, which is officially in high gear as is our contingency planning for what could lie ahead. As a reminder, voter registration for the November 3, 2020 General Election ended today. Early voting starts next week, and our Herb Young Community Center, as well as the Cary Senior Center, are serving as early voting sites for Wake County residents.

With this in mind and in consultation with the Mayor, we have decided to move the upcoming Quarterly meeting, originally scheduled for November 5, to November 19. The Clerk’s Office will update the public meetings calendar to reflect this change.

Finally and as Russ mentioned last week, the SAS Championship is underway, and we are learning from this experience as we plan for an eventual restart of our own events. Thanks to Ted Boyd for once again spearheading our partnership with Prestonwood and to the dozens of staff, especially in PRCR, PW, and PD, who are doing their part to make this weekend a success.

There’s nothing like a little time away to remind you of the good things, like working with each of you.

Sean

Operational Weekly Report

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s activities. Please take a moment to review the highlights from this week.

Departmental Updates

Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.

  • Arrangements have been completed for two Cary sites to serve as Early Voting locations. Early Voting will begin on October 15and it will run through October 31. More details are available on our website.
  • The Clerk’s Office has collaborated with Transit on the addition of a temporary GoCary stop near Herb Young Community for Early Voting. Route 3 will provide service to a temporary stop on Wilkinson Avenue according to the published Early Voting schedule.
  • This week, Finance received confirmation of Cary’s exceptional credit ratings. Three agencies, Moody’s, Standard & Poors and Fitch, each recognized Cary’s consistent strong management, planning and financial performance and awarded their highest AAA credit rating for both Cary’s general obligation bonds and revenue bonds.
  • On Wednesday, Human Resources hosted a virtual seminar for employees called Strengthening Your Ability to Empathize. This seminar was facilitated by our EAP provider ComPsych and focused on helping employees increase their awareness of how fostering a high-quality support network builds resilience during uncertain times.
  • PRCR has created a series of successful senior virtual programs that involve exercise, yoga, and coffee chats. The new program called “We Care Coffee Chats” allows seniors to gather in a virtual space to connect with one another.
  • Staff is formalizing Health and Safety Plans for upcoming events, including ACC XC & Soccer Championships, the Atlantic Tire Championship, and other venue tournaments.
  • Currently, there are 43 development plans under review. Plans for Green Level Mixed-Use Destination Center Medical Office Building Phase 1A and Alston Ridge Elementary School Modular Classrooms were both approved this week.
  • The Development Pulse report for September is now available.
  • DRC reviewed comments from the second round of review for the Downtown Cary Park’s development plan. The discussion focused on the landscape plan and crosswalk design. An express review was also held with the design team and review staff to develop a plan for the building permit submittals.
  • On Wednesday, about 30 citizens attended the neighborhood meeting for 20-REZ-08 Lewey Drive. Citizens shared concern for the proposed use and the condition of Lewey Drive and existing stormwater concerns.
  • During the month of September, staff received 24 zoning compliance code cases via 311 and initiated 27 additional cases. The trending code cases were related to political signage along major thoroughfares and RVs/campers/boats improperly parked.
  • On Wednesday, Danna Widmar, Morgan Mansa, Matt Flynn, and Kelly Blazey were panelists at WakeUP Wake County’s Transportation, Land Use, & Housing committee meeting. Staff shared information about the Western Wake Bus Rapid Transit route. The discussion highlighted development projects along the Eastern Cary Gateway, emphasized the role of the Imagine Cary Community Plan and discussed the nexus with housing affordability. Committee members asked excellent questions on Cary’s community engagement processes and environmental considerations.
  • This week, the National Register Advisory Committee unanimously approved the request for the Nancy Jones House to remain listed in the National Register of Historic Places during its relocation. The recommendation will now be forwarded to the National Parks Service (NPS) for a final decision; NPS has 45 days to respond. Staff is currently working on the details of the relocation, including the schedule for the new site preparation and the actual move date of the house.
  • The NCDOT approved Cary to move forward with our Connected Vehicle Technology Project, in which we will be receiving approximately $1.6M from LAPP funding. Staff is providing the last updates to the documents needed to advertise and bid the project. Once completed, this project will provide one of the most robust CV systems in the Nation, combining traveler information with multi-modal safety features, emergency vehicle preemption, and transit signal priority capabilities. The project should be completed in 12 months.
  • Several HOAs have expressed interest in Cary taking over maintenance of their private streets and T&F is currently working with a handful including, Renaissance at Regency and Glenpark. Efforts at this time are focused on verifying specific requirements associated with their convenance needed to transfer rights of way. Once these requirements are identified and the community is supportive, we will begin efforts to survey neighborhood streets to identify any deficiencies that should be addressed prior to Cary taking over maintenance and converting these streets from private to public.

First Responders Appreciation

The Cherico family of Cary donated an appreciation sign for our first responders. Several members of the police and fire departments gathered at Fire Station 8 to meet the family and say thanks for their support.

Cary 101 Special Event

On Tuesday, staff hosted a virtual Cary 101 event for this year’s program participants. The 8-week long citizen’s academy was originally scheduled to begin in March but was put on hold due to the coronavirus.

While the full-length program has yet to be replanned, staff organized this one-night event to check in with participants and offer a behind-the-scenes look at Cary’s pandemic response. Panelists covered a range of topics including the importance of Cary’s culture and values, the formation of the Emergency Operations Center and Operational Framework Team, and the FY 2021 budget.

Special thanks to Mayor Weinbrecht, Sean Stegall, Allan Cain, Russ Overton, Karen Mills, Carla Witherington, Ryann Norris, and Stephanie Cessna for their involvement and support.

Virtual Citizen’s Police Academy

On Wednesday, staff hosted Cary’s first virtual Citizen’s Police Academy. The spring session was postponed due to the coronavirus. This class was presented as a collaborative effort between Police, Information Technology and Parks Recreation & Cultural Resources. The program will run each Wednesday evening through November 4.

North Cary Water Reclamation Facility Improvement Update

Crowder Construction has recently installed the wet well for the future equalization pump station. This pump station will provide staff with the flexibility to empty the flow equalization basins (shown to the left and right) in just one day. This will be an effective option when faced with back to back weather events which cause higher influent flows.

Additional Information of Interest

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

Mayor’s Mailbox

Emails for this week included:

  • A complaint that Cary’s tree ordinance caused property damage
  • A request to do something about climate change
  • A request to give remarks at a fundraiser event (I am not doing in-person events through the end of the year)
  • A request for a proclamation
  • A question about voting drop boxes at Herb Young
  • A public records request for correspondence between me and Cal Cunningham (Interesting, but I have never met him or corresponded with him)
  • A complaint about a Lewey Drive rezoning that wants us to require the developer to move the stream (we don’t have that authority)

Next week’s activities include staff meetings and an interview.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 18, 2020.  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 staff.

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