Cary, NC — This was one of the busiest weeks I have had in a while.
Meeting with Developers, Mayors
Monday I joined the town manager and several staff members in a virtual meeting with Merritt Properties of Baltimore which is building 13 single-story flex buildings across 142 acres near RDU airport.
They mostly wanted to introduce themselves and express their interest in being a part of our community. Welcome, Merritt Properties!
Monday night I participated in a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. In attendance were the mayors of Cary, Fuquay Varina, Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon.
We talked about what was going on in our communities, vaccinations, the EMS restructuring, and State of Town addresses.
Triangle Could Represent U.S. in University World Championships
Tuesday morning I joined a virtual meeting of the Triangle Community Coalition. After giving a few opening remarks, I listened to staff and those with developer interest discuss issues related to development. For the most part, everyone seemed in agreement that Cary was doing a great job.
Tuesday afternoon I talked with a potential partner about the World University Championships. These games occur every other year on even years. The International University Sports Federation launched the FISU World University Championships in 1963.
The FISU World University Championships are either single sport or small cluster events, and thus they give cities and often universities the chance to host a major international sports event with minimum cost and complexity.
In the conversation, it was pointed out that the Triangle area will represent the United States and submit a bid for 2027. If the United States wins the bid then Cary would host soccer, rugby, baseball, tennis, and other events. The bid will be awarded next year.
CAMPO Reviews Safety Targets
Wednesday I participated in a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board. The agenda included five consent items, one public hearing, and six discussion items.
The only item that was not informational was the Review safety performance targets. The Executive board unanimously agreed to plan and program projects that contribute toward the accomplishment of the State’s targets. The meeting concluded after about an hour.
Town Councilmember Robinson Gains National Ranking
Thursday I was notified by the Triangle J Council of Governments that Cary Councilmember Jennifer Robinson was elected Senior Vice President of NARC’s (National Association of Regional Councils) Board of Directors which will enable her to guide advocacy and programmatic decisions for regional councils nationwide.
Jennifer has made immeasurable contributions to Cary in her two-plus decades of service, and we are a stronger Council and a better community because of her.
She cares deeply about good governance and is a passionate advocate for intergovernmental collaboration. I am so proud that Jennifer has been elected to this new role.
Recent Accolades for Raleigh-Cary
Friday I was informed that the Raleigh-Cary area was ranked #5 in the nation among best-performing large cities by the Milken Institute. The ranking was based on economic performance with metrics including job outlook, housing affordability, and GDP growth.
A notification was also sent out that the Raleigh-Cary area was ranked #42 in having the lowest poverty rates by 24/7 Wall Street. Our poverty rate was 8.9% compared to 13.6% in the state.
The Raleigh-Cary unemployment rate was 5.6% compared to 6.3% in North Carolina. And households receiving SNAP benefits in this area was at 7.3% compared to 11.6% in North Carolina.
NC Metro Mayors Meeting Recap
Friday morning I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:
US Congress –Update on COVID Budget Reconciliation Bill (American Rescue Plan, includes local $s)
- The budget reconciliation bill has continued to move forward. A variety of committees in the House have sent their portions to the House Budget Committee.
- A vote is expected to be taken as early as the end of next week and the bill could be on the President’s desk by the first or second week of March.
- Once passed, the Department of Treasury will provide more detailed guidance on how the funding for local governments can be used.
- The General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division presented the Consensus Revenue Forecast and Budget Overview to the Joint Appropriations Committee this week. The consensus revenue forecast is a joint forecast generated by the Office of State Budget and Management and the Fiscal Research Division.
- The state is looking at a $4.1B budget surplus. This is largely due to delayed tax filing deadlines and an 8% increase in sales tax revenue.
- This money is considered to be one-time funding and will NOT be spent on a recurring basis.
Transportation – no legislative action
Public Safety – See Local Control topic below for “defund police” bill
Economic Development – no legislative action
Local Revenues/Local Control
Police Funding Protection Act – S100
- The bill was introduced this week by Sen. Edwards (R- Buncombe) and Sen. Britt (R – Robeson). The bill provides that cities and counties that reduce funding for law enforcement officers or law enforcement agencies by more than one percent, will receive a corresponding reduction in state-shared revenue (such as Powell Bill).
- This bill appears to be in response to national and local debates over cities and counties that “may reduce spending” on police/public safety (see news story here). We expect the bill will continue to move forward and NCLM and Metro Mayors will continue to monitor the bill closely.
Special Briefing: Census Delay & Impact on 2021 Local Elections
From Erin Wynia, NCLM Chief Legislative Counsel:
- Electoral districts are to be redrawn following each census.
- Must follow NC Supreme Court case law on redistricting (Stephenson 1) – if population in any district changes by more than 5%, district must be redrawn to correct imbalance.
- Multiple steps are required for municipal redistricting- would take at least 6 weeks to prepare revised new districts, once data is available.
- The State Board of Elections says they need two months after districts are redrawn by a city council to build the precinct databases (called geo-fencing) that is required to conduct an election for new district boundaries.
- US Census Bureau announced this week that the data needed for redistricting is not expected before September 30, 2021 – so it is unlikely there will be enough time to complete redistricting for 2021 elections.
- City councils may vote to delay the election until the 2022 cycle. The General Assembly is likely to take action regarding the 2021 elections as more information is developed and the impact of the delayed data is better understood.
- This issue will certainly be an ongoing discussion and we will keep you updated as more information is available.
- Main takeaway – All indicators are pointing to an increasing likelihood that due to Census Bureau delays 2021 elections will be put off until 2022. STAY TUNED…
The meeting concluded after about 40 minutes.
Interview on “Remarkable” Councilmember, Lori Bush
Friday afternoon I had the honor and privilege of doing an interview with CBS17 on Lori Bush as a Remarkable Woman. Lori is truly a remarkable woman and has accomplished SO much since moving to the area in 1994. Here are just some of her passions and accomplishments:
- Elected to Cary council in 2011
- Served on several Cary boards and commissions
- Advocate for affordable housing, technology, environment, bicyclists/pedestrians on our greenways and streets
- Serving on many non-profits:East Coast Greenway Alliance
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- Hunt Library Technology Advisory Board
- National Association for Cybersecurity
- Museum of Natural Science
- Tech trendsetter working to allow others an inside view to municipal government. She has Facebooked things like a ride-a-long with a snowplow
- 2019 Women of Western Wake by Cary Magazine
- Twitter bio: insatiable curiosity for the intersection of tech, public good, and fun. Bike rider, chocolate eater, gadget girl
Lori’s best talent and skill is her personality. She is a person with a loving heart that makes others feel like they have known her all her life. I know that I am blessed to know her.
Future of Black History Event Speech
Saturday morning I gave welcome remarks at the Future of Black History event. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:
“…There are many stories reflecting on the history of African Americans in Cary.
Chatham Street, for example, was once known as the Western Wake Highway. This would not have existed in Cary if it weren’t for the partnership of African American leader Berry O’Kelly and Dr. James Templeton. Their decision to insist on the highway’s location, brought Cary into the automotive age in 1920.
Or take John Beckwith, a former slave, who became a beloved janitor at Cary High School. He later went on to record his Slave Narrative in 1936 at the age of 83.
Then there is Arch Arrington who owned three fourths of Cary above Chapel Hill Road and still has many descendants who live there today.
Our community has been shaped and blessed by these, and many more, important historic African Americans. …”
My remarks were followed by a keynote address and a panel discussion.
Application Period Opens for Senior Advisory Board
The new Senior Advisory Board is now taking applications. This will continue until March 21st. If you are a senior and want to share your time and talents to make your community better, please apply.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included the following:
Manager’s Message to Council
Congratulations to our very own Council Member Jennifer Robinson on being elected Senior Vice President of the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
This new appointment demonstrates Council Member Robinson’s commitment to regional cooperation and we are incredibly fortunate to have her representing Cary on a national level.
One other important announcement is that after careful consideration, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Director Doug McRainey shared a framework with me for reintroducing spring and summer programming.
For some, additional programming may be an indication of things returning to “normal”, however, it is important that we and our citizens remain vigilant and follow the CDC’s recommendations. If you have any questions, please let me or Doug know.
Stay safe and have a great weekend.
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.
Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.
- Recruitment is now open for Council’s newly created Senior Advisory Board. The Senior Advisory Board will collaborate with staff to advise Council in the creation of an inclusive and connected environment to support senior services in Cary. Through advocacy, policy, planning, and engagement in emerging issues, members will serve to promote the advancement of a safe, inclusive, and diverse senior network. For more information, visit the Senior Advisory Board webpage.
- This week, the Cary150 team presented to the Dorcas Ministries Board of Directors and staff. During the Cary150 celebration year, Cary will assist in raising funds for Town-associated non-profits, Oasis and Play It Forward as well as highlight the impact these non-profits have on the Cary community. Dorcas Ministries plays the role of facilitation in these funds to help meet the needs of the community.
- On Tuesday, members of the Cary150 Task Force received training from moss + rosson how to be ambassadors in the community to meet the Cary150 awareness goals. A couple of the goals include providing 75 community presentations throughout the year and receiving 150 stories in the Share Your Story virtual scrapbook by April 3.
- The development plan for USA Baseball has been submitted for its second round of plan review. The development plan is for a shared office building and indoor turf practice facility for Cary PRCR and USA Baseball Headquarters.
- Mayor Weinbrecht and Council Member Robinson along with staff attended the annual coffee chat with the Triangle Community Coalition (TCC) on Tuesday. Staff provided an overview on the state of development in Cary, highlighting changes to process and upcoming development projects. Several members asked questions about the current parking studies for multi-family development and downtown parking strategy.
- In December, Cary signed an agreement with Wake County Human Services –COVID Operations to provide park sites for COVID testing and vaccinations, and a request was made last week to use Wake Med Soccer Park. Staff coordinated with the Wake County Logistics Team to facilitate testing next week. Details can be found here.
- As Piney Plains Road continues to develop, it provides an opportunity to evaluate the existing transportation network. Originally developed with single family homes, the development patterns will continue to reshape the area. The Piney Plains corridor, from SE Cary Pkwy to Dillard Drive, currently transitions from an existing 3-lane to 5-lane street as it continues north. Cary is exploring ways to right-size and improve Piney Plains Road; this includes assessing the number of travel lanes, bike facilities, pedestrian facilities, access management and aesthetics. Take this 5-minute survey and help us plan for the future. The survey will be open until March 15.
- This week, Owens Roofing, Inc. began the replacement of the roofs at Town Hall. Replacement is projected to take four months. The roof replacement project will leave the roof “solar ready” with the capability of supporting solar panels in the future.
- As part of a wastewater pump station improvement project, contractors working with Cary completed installation of a new bar screen at the Morris Branch Pump Station located in western Cary. The bar screen is critical to successful pump station operation by keeping larger debris such as wipes, plastics and trash from clogging pumps. The bar screen automatically rakes and lifts the trash from the sewer line safely conveying to a dumpster for proper disposal.
Tree Plantings at Cary First Christian Cemetery
The Cary First Christian Cemetery is a stop along the African American History Tour, the first of a series of sesquicentennial tours. It’s also the location of oaks and dogwoods that were planted this week as part of the site’s overall restoration work. The sixteen native trees will provide additional shade and beauty to this active and historic cemetery.
Project PHOENIX partnered with El Centro de Hispania on a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic held at El Centro in Raleigh. The event was specifically for our 65 and older Latinx/Hispanic community members throughout Wake County.
Project PHOENIX officers promoted and invited Cary residents throughout our communities to the clinic. Savanna Click, Community Engagement coordinator at Cary PD, has been a part of a county-wide Covid-19 Hispanic/Latinx Workplace Response Task Force.
The task force is aimed at decreasing the effects of COVID-19 on the Hispanic/Latinx population by educating people on the need for the vaccine, resources available for those who get the virus, as well as preventative measures recommended by the CDC.
The Vaccine Clinic was a result of this Task Force partnering with Wake County Human Services. For more, view the WRAL news story.
New Year/New You Campaign
Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources partnered with Human Resources to create and implement the annual “New Year/New You” campaign. This year’s campaign focused on promoting physical and mental health, engaging the community, and caring for the planet.
Throughout the month of January, social media posts, motivational signs in Cary parks, and “#CaryCares” encouraged citizens to safely explore health and wellness routines, learn something new, “go green”, and nurture relationships.
Almost 800 people engaged with the social media posts, resulting in over 550 visits to the CaryCares page on the Town of Cary website.
The intersection improvements at SW Cary Parkway and Waldo Rood Blvd are underway. New pavement extends the northbound left-turn lane and new, southbound right turn lane.
The remaining construction on Waldo Rood, the southbound left-turn lane on Cary Parkway, and new signal installation will continue through spring with work wrapping up by the end of summer.
As this work progresses, staff are simultaneously working to ensure the streetscape buffer along SW Cary Parkway near Bebington Drive is restored following the removal of vegetation that obstructed the line-of-sight for drivers.
The neighborhood’s property management company is working with staff to develop a landscaping plan with a goal of planting new midlevel evergreens this spring.
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:
- A Quite Possibly Wonderful Summer, The Atlantic
- A Grim Measure of Covid’s Toll: Life Expectancy Drops Sharply in U.S., The New York Times
Emails from citizens this week include:
- Criticism that Cary’s baseball and softball leagues are closed
- Expressed happiness that another Trader Joes is coming
- A complaint about construction noise before 5 AM (a violation of our noise ordinance)
- A request for bus service and bus shelters at Cary Park
- A complaint against a proposal to rename a portion of Good Hope Church Road
- A request to sign a letter of complaint about future operations to the North Carolina Utilities Commission
- A complaint about an HOA not allowing solar panels (municipalities do not have authority to override HOAs in this matter)
- A concern about Cary’s weather preparedness to avoid situations like Texas (Duke Energy responded and Cary’s water system is state of the art and is robust enough to prevent the water situation)
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, the last regularly scheduled council meeting of February, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 28th. 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.
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