Harold’s Blog: A Worsening Pandemic and Environmental Criticisms

Cary, NC — This was a light week with very few meetings.

Pandemic Heads in “Wrong Direction”

Source: Wake County COVID Dashboard

Sec. Cohen Recommends Mayors Enforce Bar & Restaurant Mandates

Monday started with a meeting to sign bonds the town were selling. I signed 47 bonds and a couple of dozen other documents.

Later Monday I participated in a zoom meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors with NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. Secretary Cohen recommended municipalities enforce state mandates on bars and restaurants. Several mayors pushed back stating that we do not have available personnel capacity for this type of enforcement and that health enforcement is the job of the Department of Health.

However, all of us realize this pandemic is headed in the wrong direction and we will continue to work on this issue.

Taking Criticism on Environmental Efforts & Transparency

Tuesday I, along with staff, met with a couple via zoom. They had a PowerPoint presentation critical of statements I have made and critical of staff’s willingness and ability to help with environmental issues. They stated that because of this we are encouraging clear cutting, urban sprawl, loss of quality of life and a loss of the natural environment.

In addition, they claimed that my statement about Cary having some of the strictest environmental regulations in the state was false. They also made several recommendations including points about us not being transparent. I sincerely appreciate all citizen feedback and especially appreciate our citizen’s involvement enough to create a PowerPoint.

While I certainly disagree with the majority of their assessments, especially about our transparency and our willingness to do specific things, I will say the following:

  • Cary’s staff is always looking to be better and to do things better. I honestly believe we have the best staff in the state that have our citizens as the highest priority. It is disappointing that our staff is so grossly underestimated.
  • We will continue to work on the Environmental Advisory Board recommendations.
  • I will be asking the town manager and staff for regular updates on environmental initiatives.
  • I will, as I have done since I was elected in 2007, provide all the information I can about our environmental initiatives and anything else I am involved in. That was my promise then and it holds true 13 years later.

I believe we are blessed to have such an involved citizenry that cares about their environment. Working together, we will make things even better in Cary.

Town Manager Report

The town manager, Sean Stegall’s report for this week included:

Manager’s Message to Council

In a pre-COVID-19 meeting, Sean Stegall addresses the Cary Town Council.

“As Halloween approaches this Saturday, families and friends are inclined to gather in celebration. I would like to remind our staff and citizens to remain vigilant for their safety as well as the safety of others.

Avoiding large gatherings, reducing time with non-family members, and choosing to cancel indoor events where masks or social distancing cannot be maintained are all practices that will safeguard individual health. Keeping employees and citizens safe and healthy during the pandemic continues to be my top priority.

Stay safe and I look forward to seeing each of you in November.

Sean”

EOC Activation

Cary’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activated virtually today and will operate through November 5. The EOC’s Incident Action Plan (IAP) will focus on monitoring and managing community needs in response to Halloween or elections disruptions.

Representatives from Police, Fire, Public Works, 311, Transit, Finance, and PIO are staffing the EOC.

Weekly Operational Report

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

Departmental Updates

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

  • The three finalists for the Hometown Spirit Award have been selected. The finalists will be revealed at the end of next week and the announcement of this year’s winner will occur during the November 12 Council meeting.
  • On Monday, the Planning and Zoning Board met with Planning for a general business and training opportunity. Staff provided an overview of the Imagine Cary Community Plan and discussed how they use the plan to evaluate rezoning cases and ACT items.
  • The Downtown Parking Study is kicking off next week with Walker Consultants. The study will look at immediate and long-term parking needs in Downtown Cary.
  • This week, Wake County Public Schools conducted an annual meeting with Planning and GIS to review the status of active and potential development activity to prepare for growth and needs for future school sites.
  • This week, T&F met with the Hortons Creek HOA to discuss their traffic calming project along Hortons Creek Drive. The proposed design includes a buffered bike lane that will narrow travel lanes for slowing traffic while providing a greater level of comfort for families to use the existing bike lanes. The community is encouraged by the design and is supportive of staff’s direction.
  • Several upgrades were completed this week to the intersection of Davis Drive and Lake Grove Boulevard. Upgrades include: new pavement markings, Emergency Vehicle Preemption, and flashing yellow arrows with alternate phasing on Davis Drive. Staff will monitor operations and follow up on any safety concerns that were addressed with this upgrade.
  • Fuji Film, a potential COVID-19 vaccine candidate, is working on an expansion of their manufacturing facility located in the Wake County portion of RTP and in Cary’s utility service area. Construction began this year on three new buildings and an upgrade to their wastewater pretreatment system. Cary is working closely with Wake County and Fuji Film on this important expansion at their facility.

Cary’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) Classification

The Fire Department learned this week that the Town’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification will remain a Class I. In fact, the overall community score improved to 99.17 out of 105.5 as compared with 92.67 in 2015.

ISO representatives conducted a site visit in February. By classifying their ability to suppress fires, ISO helps communities evaluate their public fire-protection services.

The program provides an objective, countrywide standard that helps communities in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment, and training for fire protection. And by securing lower fire insurance premiums for communities with better public protection, the PPC program provides incentives and rewards for communities that choose to improve their public fire protection capabilities.

This achievement was truly a OneCary effort, with Town-wide participation in gathering and demonstrating necessary information, including Public Works, Utilities, and Police, as well as the Fire Department.

On-site Flu Clinics for Employees

More than 100 employees participated in this year’s on-site flu clinics on October 26 & 27.

With safety and COVID protocols at the forefront of this event, WakeMed combined the use of a Mobile Bus at Town Hall and at WakeMed Apex HealthplexWakeMed as well as our Public Works Operations Center Training room, to provide flu shots and education to employees.

WakeMed will continue to provide flu shots and support to employees this week by visiting Fire Stations and Utility plant.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

On October 23, officers and staff participated in the Walk “A Mile in Their Shoes” event in support of Domestic Violence Awareness month. The event was coordinated by the Wake County Domestic Violence Task Force and promoted by Interact.

The symbolic walk itself was done to honor Domestic Violence abuse survivors, while promoting cognizance of the month in hopes of stopping the abuse cycle.

Camp Branch 42-inch Gravity Sewer Interceptor Relocation Update

To accommodate NCDOT’s NC-540 (Triangle Expressway) extension project, relocation of a portion of the Town’s 42-inch Camp Branch gravity sewer interceptor on the south side of town is required prior to construction of the roadway.

The Camp Branch sewer interceptor is one of two major lines that conveys wastewater to our South Cary Water Reclamation Facility for treatment. Construction crews have installed over 500 feet of new 42-inch sewer main and are now ready to tie the new pipes into the existing system. This will require bypass pumping to maintain sewer service for our citizens.

This week crews will test the bypass pumping system which is set up with a main pump and a backup pump. Once testing of the system is complete the bypass pumping will begin running on Monday November 2nd up until the tie-in work is completed.

This work is estimated to last 6 days and 24-hour monitoring of the bypass pumping system will take place thru the duration of the work.

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 from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about the fire department’s response with some not having masks (the chief responded and will investigate the incident)
  • A complaint about global warming
  • A complaint about the National Police Association using me in one of their fundraising letters (I did not give them permission to use my name and say, “Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht Jr. needs to hear from you.”)
  • A complaint about delays in permits from a church

Next week’s activities include staff meetings and a virtual chamber event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 8th.  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 and Ashley Kairis.

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1 reply
  1. Mark Neill
    Mark Neill says:

    “However, all of us realize this pandemic is headed in the wrong direction and we will continue to work on this issue.”

    All of the Mayors might, but unfortunately their common sense doesn’t appear to flow downhill…

    Reply

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