Cary, NC — This week’s activities included the last regularly scheduled council meeting of the year.
Monday — Preparing for Town Council Meeting
Monday I attempted to contact each council member to hear of concerns or questions about the upcoming agenda. Since the agenda had one public hearing and one discussion item there were no questions. Later in the day I met with key staff members to go over the agenda items. That meeting lasted only a few minutes.
Following the agenda meeting I held my weekly one-on-one with the town manager. We spent most of our time discussing the mall site redevelopment.
Thursday — A Council Recap
Thursday was the last regularly scheduled council meeting of the year. The agenda included seven consent items, one public hearing, and one discussion item. There were no speakers for Public Speaks Out or the Public Hearing.
The public hearing was for six acres on Roberts Road next to Green Level High School. It was associated with the 20-REZ-05 rezoning proposal to allow duplex dwellings, townhouses; patio dwellings; semi-detached/attached dwellings, neighborhood recreation, and associated accessory uses with a maximum of twenty units. Both will come back to council for a vote sometime next year.
The discussion item was for the town’s annual sidewalk funding list. The FY 2021 Capital Improvement Budget & Plan allocated $1,750,000 to the Town’s Sidewalk and Pedestrian Improvements budget. Staff annually evaluates eligible requested sidewalk projects based on the adopted Sidewalk Policy criteria established in Policy Statement 135.
This year, 32 active sidewalk project requests were evaluated. These include projects carried over from previous years, new requests from citizens, and staff-identified needs. Six segments were identified for this year’s funding:
- Ederlee Drive: From Richelieu Drive to Avenue of the Estates
- Highfield Avenue: From Highway 55 to Bachelor Branch Greenway
- Laura Duncan Road: From Cary Parkway to Old Apex Road
- NE Maynard Road: From Maynard Creek Court to north of Chapel Hill Road
- NW Cary Parkway: From Sheldon Drive to Waltonwood Silverton PDD
- West Lake Road: From Fairview Ridge Lane to Larboard Drive
The council unanimously approved the request without discussion.
Friday — Wake County Mayors Cap off the Year
Friday I attended the last Wake County Mayors Association meeting of the year. Nine of the twelve mayors were in attendance. Absent were the mayors of Raleigh, Knightdale and Wendell. At this meeting, the mayors voted to give Morrisville Mayor T. J. Cawley the Lucius Jones award.
We also talked about next year’s meeting. During the meeting, mayors wore masks except when eating/drinking and were socially distanced. Our meeting lasted about two and a half hours.
North Carolina’s Vaccination Plan
This week, in addition to receiving a COVID-19 update, I received information about the state’s vaccination plan:
“… Cohen reported the first of 85K vaccine doses were administered today on medical staff at Atrium (Winston Salem) and Duke health centers. Healthcare workers in 8 hospitals will receive vaccinations tomorrow. On Thursday and Friday, workers at 42 additional hospitals will receive the vaccine.
Emergency use authorization is expected for the Moderna vaccine by Friday of this week, leading to additional vaccine for subsequent phases of the vaccination plan, tentatively next week.
After healthcare workers who treat COVID patients, the second group of people to receive the vaccine will be long-term care residents and associated workers. The federal government has partnered with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies on the long-term care vaccinations.
Additionally, this is the phase where local health departments are vaccinating governmental employees who work within the healthcare system or have a greater occupational risk of contracting the virus, like EMTs, firefighters, and police officers. Teachers and adults who suffer from 2 or more chronic conditions like COPD, diabetes, or obesity are included in this group as well.
Amanda Moore, the DHHS lead pharmacist, indicated they do not know when specific volumes of vaccine will arrive and while the state is regulating the vaccination plan, the vaccinating work is managed by local health departments who have partnered with “enrolled providers”, community health agencies that have agreed to the specific terms of the state’s vaccination plan.”
$900K Grant for Passenger Rail Development in the Triangle
This week the Federal Transit Authority awarded the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Integrated Mobility Division a $900,000 grant to help Triangle area communities create plans for development along the S-Line rail corridor.
The S-Line corridor is a passenger rail line that starts at the Virginia border, runs through Raleigh, and ends at the South Carolina state line. I received a question from a citizen this week about Cary’s inclusion in this grant. The following is staff’s response:
The planning grant that you inquired about is specific to development around train stations. They did not include us or ask for matching funds because we are already developing our plan and approach to development as part of and in the vicinity of the proposed downtown multimodal center.
We will also be included in a separate TOD grant application with Raleigh that is specific to the Bus Rapid Transit station locations. Raleigh participated in this rail TOD application because their rail station is in a different location than their bus station. Our rail/bus will be in the same location, the proposed Downtown Multimodal.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week was the last this year. It included:
Manager’s Message to Council
In putting a cap on 2020, I want to make a personal plea to each of you to make extra effort during the next 2 weeks, to stay healthy and help keep others safe. We’ve had 275 new cases in Cary in just the last week – that’s nearly 40 Cary citizens every day catching COVID-19, and no one knows how many others have it and are asymptomatic but still spreading it.
Unfortunately, since the pandemic began, 14 people in Cary have died. Wake County health officials know from contact tracing that many of the positive cases we’re seeing are the result of people getting together in groups, large and small. So they’re strongly encouraging all of us to replace in-person holiday parties and get-togethers with virtual get-togethers.
As local government professionals, both my wife and I agreed that we must lead by example. And as parents, we have to keep keeping our daughter safe. So for the upcoming holidays, our family’s going to do our best to support the Governor’s requests and the guidelines of our healthcare professionals.
The vaccines are on their way. One’s even in Wake County. We just need to stay the course and be vigilant a little longer.
What each of us does – or doesn’t do – matters. Please, wear a mask when you’re with anyone you don’t live with – even if they’re family. And wash your hands frequently.
I care for each of you and each member of staff personally, and I wish you all healthy and safe holidays.
Gordon Family Foundation Grant
The Gordon Family Foundation is providing a $5,000 grant to Cary to apply to 50 randomly selected residential utility accounts that are past due. A letter will be shared with the impacted customers, and the account holders will be able to see the posting online in their Aquastar accounts. Cary appreciates the generosity of the Gordon Family Foundation to assist our citizens during this holiday season.
Public Safety Update
Since December 10th, an additional 275 cases and no additional deaths were reported within Cary’s four primary zip codes. Cases and deaths by zip code as of December 17th:
- 27511: 867 and 5 deaths
- 27513: 926 and 4 deaths
- 27518: 450 and 1 death
- 27519: 1044 and 4 deaths
Although Cary has the second highest population among the municipalities, Cary has been maintaining the fewest per capita COVID-19 cases, which, as of 8 AM on December 17th was 18.65 per 1,000 residents.
The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s operational activities. Please take a moment to review the weekly operational report. Due to the upcoming holidays, there will not be another Weekly Operational Report again until Friday, January 8.
Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.
- At last night’s council meeting, the council adopted the 2021 meeting schedule for council meetings and advisory board and commission meetings.
- On Saturday, limited members of the Yates Mill Daughters of the American Revolution will lay wreaths on veterans’ graves in Hillcrest Cemetery. These wreaths are part of the Wreaths Across America Day.
- The majority of our active construction projects will be shut down for the holidays beginning Dec 24 and resuming Monday, Jan 4. There will be two projects with staff working in the gap between Christmas and New Year’s -Holt Rd Water Line and Penny Road School Park (ADA compliance assessments; no construction equipment involved).
- The Cary150 Task Force met on Tuesday, and the meeting consisted of a presentation from the Cary 150 Gala Planning team and updates from all the committees.
- The South Cary Water Reclamation Facility (SCWRF) is celebrating 32-years of service this week.
- The Cary Fire Department hosted a four-day virtual site visit with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International peer team this week. The site visit is an important part of the accreditation process as it offers a team of experienced fire professionals an opportunity to interview Cary Fire staff and take a closer look at our operations. Normally held in person, the department requested a virtual visit after much consideration and out of an abundance of caution in light of increasing COVID-19 cases. Fire staff worked tirelessly to adapt their presentations, provide tours and an exceptional experience for the team despite the change. This is the Cary Fire Department’s fifth time seeking accreditation. Members of the fire department leadership team must still attend a successful commission hearing before this important designation becomes official. The date for the hearing has not yet been set.
- Cary has been re-designated a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
- A new development plan has been submitted to add a third pickleball court at Carpenter Park.
- With the New Year right around the corner, it’s time to pause, breathe, reflect on our accomplishments, and set new goals. Sign up for the virtual Choose to Lose Weight Loss Challenge, hosted with our partner WakeMed, to continue your well-being journey into the New Year. The challenge kicks off January4.
- Over the last 4 weeks, 69 employees from a variety of departments participated in the virtual Mind Body Challenge program which concluded on December 16.
- Staff across all departments, and our consultant Plante Moran, have worked collaboratively this week to identify the organization’s needs (known as specifications) for Cary’s new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)platform. The team remains on track to issue a request for proposal in January.
- A building permit was approved for updates to Cary Town Hall Police Basement and Ground Level. This project will include adding a mechanical unit and duct work to the basement and expanding the vault area.
- The development plan for improvements and expansion of the existing tennis courts at R.S. Dunham Park is in its third round of review. The proposed plan is to remove the old courts and increase the total number to (6) at the park. A new shelter, new sidewalks and ADA compliance shall be included with all new fencing, nets, and lighting for the courts. The greenway connection from Ryan Road will be extended through the park to Walnut Street.
- Cary has begun offering Conservation Conversations as part of our virtual programming. The workshops are designed to share Cary’s initiatives and ideas, and tips for participants to try at home in support of their overall conservation efforts. Last week’s programs covered ecologically friendly lawncare, waste reduction during the holidays, and renewable energy with a focus on solar.
- Point Concept Designs installed new timeline panels on December 15, in the Cary Heritage Museum at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center. The panels replace those installed in 2000. In addition to expanding the narrative through Cary’s sesquicentennial in 2021, new entries are diversified, presenting more information about women and people of color in Cary’s history. This project was completed with funding support from The Friends of the Page-Walker.
- On Tuesday, Cary’s first virtual Hanukkah Menorah Lighting aired on Facebook and YouTube. A tradition going back to 2010, the menorah lighting brought the community together to celebrate the Jewish festival of lights. Cary Council member Lori Bush, Jamie Rose Eliahu (Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary), Rabbi Ariel Edery (Beth Shalom) and Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar (Chabad of Cary) provided remarks before the menorah was lit for the sixth night. The event was pre-recorded to maintain COVID-19 safety protocols and the video had over 1,000 views.
- Cary Teen Council partnered with Carolina Exteriors as a contactless delivery location for a Toys for Tots toy drive. Over 100 members donated toys for ages infant through age 16, with many even calling upon family and friends to join this endeavor.
- Cary recently purchased four flood prone properties located on Jodphur Lane, Madison Avenue, and Urban Drive. All existing structures and impervious surfaces were removed from these lots to ensure environmental restoration of these areas. By removing development from these properties, the Town has begun to provide additional functional corridors in flood-prone areas that will provide water quality protection, flood mitigation, and increased tree canopy.
- One thousand feet of new sewer force main has been installed along Talloway Drive, and numerous upgrades were completed at the wastewater pump station. Improvements include a backup generator, a new grinder (to protect the pumps from debris), electrical and communication upgrades, and new fencing. The new parallel force main increases capacity and allows uninterrupted service to residents while maintenance occurs on the existing pipeline. While the improvements are now operational, there is still landscaping planned to complete the project.
- Cary staff worked with East Coast Greenway (ECG) Alliance staff to install ECG signage along the recently completed final .4-mile segment of the White Oak Cree Greenway between Davis Drive and MacArthur Drive. This latest signage install completes ECG signage along the Cary route!
- Traffic Engineering staff meet with LMJ Construction to kick off the downtown pavement striping projects. Projects include:
- New pavement marking at N. Harrison Ave. Railroad Crossing to provide better delineation of the “Dynamic Envelope” around the tracks and of travel lanes and driveway aprons to help draw better attention to motorist that are following their GPS systems to stop turning down the roadway right of way and getting stuck on the railroad tracks.
- Mayton View Lane will get the addition of NO PARKING and centerline striping. With the major building construction all around, it has been difficult for the Mayton Inn to receive deliveries and to have trash collection done.
- Academy Street will get the addition of a striped crosswalk at Charlie Gaddy Lane.
Winter Wonderland Mobile Edition
Each year, the Cary Police Department’s Project PHOENIX officers partner with several non-profit and faith based organizations which includes Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., Covenant Life Church, Covenant Christian Church, US Veterans Corps, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Cary CAP Team to provide Christmas for deserving children.
On December 12, the Cary police officers visited these children to provide each child with toys, pair of new shoes, new winter coat, gloves, winter hat, backpack with non-perishable food items, bicycle, helmet, and a gift card.
Celebrate the Best
This marks the final week of employee recognition days with the release of slideshows on CNET for20, 25, and 30 year employees celebrating their 2020 service milestone anniversary. Outdoor evening presentations from 5-8 p.m. continued Monday (12/14 -20 year), Wednesday (12/16 -25 year) and Friday (12/18 -30 year) on the south wall of Herb Young Community Center.
A listing congratulating the Town’s 36 retirees were also included in the Friday slideshow. Employees were encouraged to head downtown to check out the evening presentations and take a cruise along Academy Street to enjoy this year’s great holiday sights that are attracting so much enthusiasm. The virtual whiteboards also continued impressively filling up with all kind of awesome kudos and accomplishments in both words and pictures.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Implementation
Cary’s Marketing team began using Salesforce Marketing Cloud for our citizen outreach emails with the first email going out the door last week. This milestone marks the formal “switching on” of Marketing Cloud’s Email Studio for our organization and is the culmination of two years of work connecting our Salesforce org with how we communicate via email, social media, and SMS with our citizens.
It’s also our official departure from GovDelivery, the system we’ve been using to contact citizens for several years now. This is a major step in our Salesforce journey and opens a world of possibilities to us. Marketing Cloud will allow us to reach our citizens through a wide array of channels and gives us unprecedented opportunities for how we do so. It also integrates with Service Cloud to help us set up critical notifications for citizens as part of other Salesforce-based business functions.
This milestone is just the beginning –like Service Cloud’s introduction to the organization four years ago, you’ll start to see Marketing Cloud integrations more and more often as we improve old processes and make our contacts with citizens more effective. We’re equally excited about this accomplishment and everything it means for our future outreach to citizens. It gets us one step closer to reaching citizens where they are with the information they want when they need it.
Green Level Church Road Pipeline Leak and Repair
On December 6, a leak developed in a 24-inch ductile iron wastewater pipeline located on Green Level Church Road north of Mills Park Drive. Public Works and Utilities staff responded quickly and were able to quickly contain the leaking wastewater and pump it back to the gravity sewer system. Due to a swift response, the leak did not reach a stream and the spill was able to be cleaned up.
With existing pipeline redundancies in place, we were able to divert 3 MGD of wastewater to our neighbor, Durham County’s wastewater treatment plant, while we evaluate and make repairs to the pipeline. Repairs and restoration are actively underway and we anticipate the pipeline being back in service before the Christmas and New Year holiday.
United States Tennis Association –NC Chapter Presents Annual Awards
United States Tennis Association-North Carolina Chapter presents annual awards for outstanding programs, facilities, and people. Two of Cary’s very own were honored with awards –Rob Peterson and Reid Kinlaw. Rob Peterson, Junior Tennis Development Specialist at Cary Tennis Park (CTP), received an award for his contribution to the Junior Tennis Council.
Rob serves on the Council and provides valuable leadership through his work at one of the leading tennis facilities in the state. Reid Kinlaw, Head Tennis Professional over Community Tennis at CTP, received an award for his leadership of adaptive programs such as wheelchair and abilities tennis.
Reid leads many areas of programs and tournaments at CTP and we are proud of him being recognized by USTA-NC in this way. Congrats Rob and Reid!
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:
This week I received an email from a citizen asking me to remove all restrictions for COVID-19. Some of the comments include:
“… No one should be told how many people can gather in a private home… I want a restoration of constitutional rights in America… We want our country back! … We will take care of ourselves … we reject living in fear …”
My response was as follows:
“Thank you for taking the time to write me and share your opinions. Cary continues to follow sate and national mandates and currently has no local mandates in place. About the only thing we have authority to do is implement a curfew. At present, we do not plan to do this and plan to continue to follow state and federal guidelines.
Having said that, I STRONGLY disagree with your assessment of the situation. I urge you to do the three W’s and stay at home as much as possible. We are at the height of this pandemic. Practicing the three W’s has been proven effective. While you may value freedom over your health, please keep in mind that you may unintentionally infect others by not practicing guidelines.
Freedom to ignore guidelines to me is like freedom to drink and drive. It is irresponsible and reckless. Personally, I would be devastated if I knew I caused someone’s illness or death. …”
I urge everyone to double down on their efforts by doing the 3 W’s. In doing so, you may be saving the life of someone you love.
Other emails from citizens this week included:
- A request to build a story/walk hike (staff if working with them)
- A request to leave the old library site as is (we will have this kind of open space and more across the street when the park is complete)
- A request for us to do more for climate change
- A complaint about pedestrian safety downtown
- A request for solar panels on town buildings (this is just one of many environmental initiatives the town is working on)
My only meeting for the next two weeks is an update with the town manager. As a result, I will not post next week. I will be writing the first draft of the State of Cary address over this period.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 3rd. 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 email@example.com.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images from Town of Cary.
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