Harold’s Blog: Greenway Murals, Council Meeting & More

Cary, NC — This week included the first regularly scheduled council meeting of the month.

Council Prep & Future Staff Retreats

Council members and staff listen to a presentation from Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison, Morgan Mansa, in a pre-COVID council/staff working retreat.


Monday I contacted council members to hear questions or concerns about Thursday’s agenda. The agenda was light so there were no questions. Later in the day I virtually met with staff and the Mayor Pro-Tem to go over the agenda. The meeting was brief.

In my last meeting Monday I talked briefly with the town manager, a staff member, and the Mayor Pro-Tem about future council-staff retreats. Usually, our retreats are held in the February-March timeframe. This year we will probably hold the retreat in October and next year get back on the normal schedule. Retreats are extremely important as they are all-day meetings to go over about half a dozen key issues that will impact Cary’s future.

Council Approves Town Maintenance of Private Street

Town councilman Jack Smith makes his comments in support of the maintenance resolution.

Thursday I taped a welcome message for the North Carolina League of Municipalities City Vision Summit in which we were the Visionary Sponsor. I did two takes of the message.

Thursday evening the council held its first regularly scheduled meeting of April. The meeting included three consent items, three public hearings for annexations, and one discussion item to accept maintenance of a private street in Glenpark.

The maintenance request was approved unanimously after the homeowner’s association agreed to bring the private streets up to town standards. It should be noted that new developments are no longer allowed to have private streets. After a short, closed session our meeting adjourned with a total time of under an hour.

NC Metro Mayors on “Spring Break,” No Meeting

Friday a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors was canceled because both Chambers of the General Assembly were on “spring break”, so there was no substantive committee action or votes. The next meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors will be on April 16.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Manager’s Message to Council

I enjoyed meeting and catching up with each of you this week. I only have one item to share in addition to my updates at last night’s Council meeting.

In an effort to make Cary’s greenway experience memorable and distinct, artist Lisa Gaither began the process of painting two large murals for the new segment of the White Oak Creek Greenway railroad tunnel at Davis Park.

Inspiration was drawn from the surrounding flora and fauna. The greenway will remain open to traffic and the process should take between 2-3 weeks to complete. Click here for more information.

Stay safe and have a great weekend.


Placemaking & Identity Along Cary’s Primary Greenway Corridor White Oak Creek Greenway Murals

Tunnel entrances as they look today on the White Oak Greenway.

  • Cary has an astonishing 80+ miles of greenway in a 300+ mile Triangle network of greenways. Opportunities exist to build upon the success of this system and to further activate the greenways.  Placemaking with public art along our primary, 15‐mile greenway corridor will engage the public and help create an identity for Cary greenways.
  • A local mural artist has been engaged to paint murals on both headwalls associated with the new White Oak Creek Greenway tunnel under the CSX rail line by Davis Drive Park. Multiple concepts were reviewed; see refined design concepts below.
  • Funding in the amount of $19,000 is being shared from PR1261 & PR1251 (CAT‐0455).


Proposed mural for the west-facing wall of the tunnel.

Cary’s primary greenway corridor and the spine of our system crosses the Town from east to west linking Umstead State Park and Lake Crabtree to the American Tobacco Trail via Bond Park.  This corridor is comprised of the White Oak Creek Greenway and the Black Creek Greenway and is part of the national East Coast Greenway.

One of the last gaps in this cross‐Cary corridor was just completed with the construction of a pedestrian tunnel under the rail line at Davis Drive Park. The significance of the completion of this greenway segment spurred UNC TV to feature Cary greenways in a story on its NC Weekend show in early July; the video can be viewed at this link.

The headwalls associated with the greenway tunnel provide a unique canvas on which to continue activating Cary Greenways with public art that identifies and ties together this significant 15‐mile corridor. It is an opportunity for placemaking, community engagement and to further create an identity for Cary Greenways.

Placemaking Artwork

Proposed mural for the east-facing wall of the tunnel.

A Cary staff team comprised of PRCR, Marketing, and T&F members reviewed letters of interest and past completed mural projects from 3 potential mural artists.

Lisa Gaither, a local mural artist with a portfolio of work up and down the East Coast, received the highest ranking from the team and was hired to produce murals for the White Oak Creek Greenway tunnel entry walls.

Staff developed a list of potential themes to help guide the artist’s concept development.  This included list of local flora and fauna and an opportunity for the artist to be inspired by Lori Cove’s contribution to this grade‐separation, her love of cycling, running and her strength and perseverance.

Lori felt strongly about the cohesiveness of this primary greenway corridor and the need for the crossing of the rail line to be grade‐separated for the benefit and safety of greenway users.

Staff shared photos used in the Tour de Cove depicting Lori’s active lifestyle as inspiration for the artist. The TOC Team has reviewed and commented on 3 concept versions from the artist with refined concepts shown.

Revised Schedule:

  • Oct 2020 PAAB review & update
  • Nov 2020 TOC internal update/review
  • Jan 2021 Public comment collected, concepts posted on the Town’s webpage for comment and links to the website will be sent to neighboring HOAs. Individual outreach to the one adjacent homeowner for whom the East wall is visible from inside the home.
  • Feb 2021 ‐ Bring Comments back to PAAB for Review/approval
  • Late March 2021 ‐ Assuming moderate temperatures, and no significant objections or revisions are necessary, the artist will proceed with the painting as weather permits.
  • Anticipate 3‐4 weeks for completion of the painting process (greenway is anticipated to remain open during the installation).

Public Safety Update

Click here for the Public Safety update from Public Safety Director Allan Cain. If you have any questions, please let me know.

  • Cases in Cary: 7,613up 137from 7,508, or 1.4% since April 2(as of April 8at 4 p.m.).
  • Municipality Cases per 1000 Residents, 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 fewest per capita COVID-19 cases, which, as of 4 p.m. on 4/2 was 44.30 per 1,000 residents.

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.

  • More than 150 viewers tuned in as Cary celebrated its150th birthday on 4-3-21 for a video honoring Cary’s past, followed by performances by Chatham Rabbits and Hiss Golden Messenger. The replay is available to watch on Facebook and YouTube and has received nearly 4,000 views since its release on April 3.
  • To encourage Cary employees to get their COVID-19 vaccine, Human Resources, in collaboration with the Manager’s Office, announced an employee vaccine reward program on March 31. This announcement, in addition to including program details, also provided employees with tips and resource information to help secure an appointment.
  • To support Cary’s employees’ health and well-being, Human Resources offered the Virtual Choose to Lose Weight Loss Challenge. The 12-week challenge ended April 2 and with the support of WakeMed, participants engaged in virtual opportunities to motivate and encourage them to achieve their goals. Over 75% of enrollees completed the challenge and together they lost over 300 pounds.
  • On April 3, Cary hosted an appointment-only pop-up vaccination event for the Sri Venkateswara Temple at Herb Young Community Center (HYCC). Wake County Health and Human Services coordinated the event and supplied approximately 500 vaccines. Participants were required to register in advance through the Temple. A follow-up event, for the 2nd shot, is scheduled for May 1 at HYCC.
  • The March 2021 Development Pulse Report is now available. Highlights include:
    • 149 and 159 E Chatham Street – Demolition permits we approved for the former Rogers Motel building and auto service station. The demolition of these two buildings are the first step for construction of the Rogers Buildings, a new three-story building with office and retail uses fronting on East Chatham Street.
    • Thales Academy Cary K-5, 1120 Buck Jones Road – The development plan and building permits were approved to convert the former Jellybeans indoor skating rink into a new Thales Academy. Demolition of the interior is complete, and the project is moving forward with renovation of the building and the parking lot. Thales is planning to open July 2021.
    • DENC, 7601 Chapel Hill Road – Building permits were issued for Dominion Energy to construct a new training shelter at their current location on Chapel Hill Road. Within the next year, a new training building is planned to be constructed.
    • Carpenter Fire Station Road Park and McCrimmon Parkway Park – Building permits have been submitted for park amenities associated with the new parks in western Cary. The development plans for both parks currently under review and should be approved this summer.
  • The Cary Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously approved two cases at their April 5 meeting. The first case was a request from Amberly Learning Center for a modification to allow a 30% reduction in the amount of parking required for their new facility located at 10301 Green Level Church Road.
  • The second case was for a special use permit and associated sketch plan to allow for religious assembly on properties zoning HMXD. The parcels are located at 143 West Chatham Street (0.03 acres) and 204 South Academy Street (0.28 acres) and will be used by First Baptist Church for parking.
  • Staff contributed to the development of an American Flood Coalition handbook which provides practical approaches for turning flood risks into opportunities to shape communities.
  • This week, Leadership Triangle hosted their virtual Thrive Leadership Summit which focused on the transformative leadership needed to move the region forward. Cary’s own Danna Widmar served as a panelist for a session called “Modernizing the Energy Grid.” This session discussed why the region should prepare for changes to climate, how this impacts residents, and tangible investment strategies to support local communities. Other panelists included representatives from Duke Energy and TJCOG.
  • Staff continues to engage with NC State University regarding innovative ways to improve the operations and management of waste and recycling. The recent engagement focus has been on how Cary can assist NCSU in their pursuit of a US Department of Energy grant for enhancements in AI technology that may help identify and measure waste materials that could potentially be diverted from the landfill.
  • Cary responded to a request from Raleigh to convey approximately 2-MGD of water to their water distribution system. For eight days Cary provided a total of just over 17 million gallons of water so that a scheduled repair could be completed within Raleigh’s water system.
  • NC Currents ran a feature article on Cary’s water distribution system highlighting recent improvements to increase resiliency. The article gives a brief history of the water system and provides insight on the “whys” of the design process. The full story can be read here.

Neighborhood Services at Work

Last fall, staff facilitated the removal of several trees along SW Cary Parkway near the intersection with Bebington Drive.

Residents were concerned that this vegetation had overgrown into the line-of-sight, preventing people from seeing and reacting to the traffic light and pedestrian crossing at the intersection.

Staff agreed with the assessment and found that several trees needed to be removed or trimmed back. In fact, staff concluded that several of the trees were already dead, creating an additional risk if they were to unexpectedly fall over the sidewalk or road.

After considering topography, spacing, and other, existing vegetation, staff developed a new landscaping plan that will not obstruct the line-of-sight at maturity. The new trees were planted this week and will be maintained by the neighborhood HOA moving forward.

This work did not fall under the responsibility of a single department; instead, it exemplified the concept of Neighborhood Services. This effort had touch points in code enforcement, planning, legal, transportation and facilities, public works, and urban forestry, plus required direct communication with individual property owners and the HOA.

WakeMed Soccer Park Events

The NCAA announced they will be bringing the entire NCAA Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships to North Carolina in April. WakeMed Soccer Park will host the bulk of the matches by facilitating 42 matches over 3 weeks.

Following the matches, Cary will host both Men and Women’s College Cups (Final Four) from May 13 through May 17. This is the first time both championships have been at the same location, at the same time.

In other sports news, the NCHSAA boys’ soccer championships for divisions 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A were held at WakeMed Soccer Park’s Koka Booth Field on March 26 and March 27. These championships represented the final match between east and west teams from across the state.

Due to current COVID-19restrictions in North Carolina, attendance was limited to only 240 social distanced spectators per match.

Replacing Pen and Paper

This week, Public Works reached a significant milestone in its Collection Route Management project, which will replace the printed maps the collection crews currently use for their routes with real-time routes mapped on iPads.

The project team spent this week installing iPads in a handful of trucks, which will serve as beta testers prior to a wider rollout to all trucks. Beginning April 9, the route drivers will begin using the application and providing feedback.

The beta period will last 2-3 weeks, with full deployment by the end of April.

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 construction crews playing loud music after quiet hours (this is a noise ordinance violation and has been resolved)
  • A complaint about road closures because of the Cary Parkway and Waldo Rood construction.
  • A complaint by a homeowner being required to replace trees after unknowingly removing trees that are required to stay.
  • A complaint about masks being mandatory.
  • A complaint about Google fiber digging in the streets.
  • A request for me to vote to support congressional legislation on climate change (I don’t have that authority but wish I did)
  • A complaint about loud cars racing near Davis Drive and High House.
  • A complaint about homelessness in Cary.
  • Questions about the downtown park.
  • A complaint about the White Oak Greenway incident that happened weeks ago (see last week’s post).

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors, and a meeting about the I540 project.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 18th.

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.organd email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

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

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