Harold’s Blog: New GM at Koka Booth, Downtown Tree Relocation & More

Cary, NC — This week the council held its last meeting of May.

Meeting to Discuss Housing, Environment & Council Prep

Monday I contacted each council member to hear of concerns or questions about Thursday’s agenda. Most of the comments were related to the proposed Dellinger and Twin Lakes rezonings.

Monday afternoon I met virtually with a citizen and a staff member about several issues including the environment and affordable housing. Our meeting lasted about twenty minutes.

Later Monday I met with staff and Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz to go over the agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting. The agenda meeting lasted about twenty minutes.

My last meeting Monday was my scheduled one-on-one meeting with the town manager. Since he was on vacation, I met with the deputy town manager and Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz. Topics discussed included parks and rec classes, redistricting, Police Department issues, the Rec Center, the Fenton, and Epic Games submitted rezoning. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Wednesday I did an interview with an Epoch Times reporter. She asked questions about Cary’s history, culture, current concerns, and future plans. Our meeting lasted about twenty minutes.

Council Tables Rezoning,  Redistricting

Thursday the council held its last regularly scheduled meeting of the month. The agenda included 15 consent items, 2 public hearings, and 3 discussion items. The Dellinger rezoning proposal, a discussion item, was postponed at the applicant’s request.

The public hearing to rezone Towerview Court, to allow hundreds of apartments and townhomes, drew comments from council members on a variety of issues including traffic, aesthetics, and buffer reductions. The public hearing on proposed redrawing of districts was criticized by one council member for lack of transparency. Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz shared that the process of creating districts was done by consultants and staff without council involvement. He continued by stating voters should choose representatives, but representatives shouldn’t choose voters. Council will vote on redistricting at their last meeting in June.

Under discussion items, the proposal to create Juneteenth as a town holiday was enthusiastically and unanimously approved by council. The Twin Lakes proposal to rezone retail and office to apartments was approved with a 5-2 vote. I joined council member Yerha in dissenting. The council meeting concluded after about two and a half hours.

Town Manager Report

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

Manager’s Message to Council

It was nice to see Council Member Jack Smith and Assistant Town Manager Danna Widmar representing Cary at the Cary Chamber of Commerce Eye Opener “Energy in Cary and the Carolinas” virtual panel discussion this week. Council Member Smith spoke on the important role the Environmental Advisory Board and its Carbon Reduction Recommendations have played in helping frame Cary’s energy work.

Danna demonstrated Cary’s commitment to using cleaner energy through several initiatives and new projects, including new electric vehicles for Cary’s fleet, Cary’s current hosting and possible future purchase of the solar farm at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility, the current use of solar at bus shelters and as part of the stream flood monitoring program, and future installation of solar at The Center and USA Baseball.

Danna highlighted impressive statistics from the NC Sustainable Energy Association’s clean energy report for the Town which revealed why Cary’s per capita energy use is lower than the national average. Danna concluded by celebrating the important role businesses and residents–as well as Cary’s local government—play in supporting clean energy

On Tuesday, I look forward to welcoming employees back to Cary facilities that have been working remotely.

Have a safe holiday weekend,

Sean

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.

  • Last night Council approved an amendment to the Personnel Ordinance to formally adopt Juneteenth as an official Town Holiday. The addition of Juneteenth as a paid holiday dedicates time for staff to participate in the joy and celebration of this holiday that represents freedom, fortitude, resilience, and never giving up hope in uncertain times. Since Juneteenth is on a Saturday this year the Town holiday will be observed on Friday, June 18. For information on Juneteenth programs click here.
  • Council Member and Veteran Jack Smith will emcee the Town’s Memorial Day event on May 31. He will be joined by other council members, including Don Frantz and Jennifer Robinson. Other events in the community include the ceremony by American Legion Post 67 at Hillcrest Cemetery.
  • Cary Downtown Park was one of eight presentations for a statewide virtual conference for Landscape Architects. Paul Kuhn moderated a panel presentation by Doug McRainey, Sarah Alexander, and Simon Beer from OJB Landscape Architecture who gave the 150-year history of the park planning, economic development goals of the project, and resilient strategies being implemented in the design. The presentation was well received by over 120 attendees with a lot of interest to come visit when the park opens.
  • Cary’s annual Water Quality Report is available at townofcary.org. The report shares the results of over 400,000 tests performed last year to ensure Cary’s water meets or exceeds all state and federal regulatory requirements. In addition, it describes how Cary continues to make its water system more resilient, how waterflows through our community, and how the town is building its infrastructure for today and the future.
  • As part of the Crossroads Water Interconnection Project with Raleigh, contractors working for Cary completed milling and permanent paving work at the intersection of Holly Springs Road and SE Cary Parkway, a section of northbound Holly Springs Road near Hackamore Lane, and a small section of Tryon Road near Prince Drive.
  • A key milestone was achieved on May 26 when staff from Cary, Pisgah Energy, and Cypress Creek all met on site to perform a system inspection of the solar facility at South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. This inspection is key in developing our condition assessment through an understanding of overall site condition, remaining life cycle, verification of system configuration, and production trends and maintenance history. From here, Cary and Pisgah Energy will develop an initial market assessment and work towards structuring a purchase offer.

Town Hall Roof Replacement Update

The Town Hall Roof Replacement Project is continuing. Work on Building B (over PRCR, UT) is complete, while work remains over Building A (TMO, HR), the atrium roofs, and Council Chambers. When returning to Town Hall, please be aware of material lifting areas.

These areas are near the south and west entrances (see map). The contractor has the areas roped off, has safety spotters, or has overhead protection. The parking area typically reserved for Page-Walker visitors is the contractors staging area. The contractor is working on consolidating their staging area. The roofing project is projected to be complete in the next four weeks.

Tree Relocation

If you were walking around downtown this week you may have seen something pretty amazing–trees crossing the street! This change was part of Cary’s plan to relocate six trees off the site of the new park and onto nearby properties.

Using an 80′ tree spade, contractors dug up three fringe trees and added them to the library’s landscape, while three Japanese maples coasted across the street for planting at the Cary Arts Center. Staff will provide extra care to ensure the trees adapt to their new locations.

Improving the Health of Established Trees

Maintaining a healthy urban forest includes nurturing Cary’s established trees so they provide the myriad of environmental, aesthetic, and social benefits to the community for as long as possible. This week, arborists completed treatments to the roots of trees at Carpenter Park and WakeMed Soccer Park.

Using a specialized tool, arborists aerated and de-compacted the soil around the base of the trees, removing harmful girdling roots. To support healthy tree growth, during the treatment arborists mixed organic compost into the soil. With these essential treatments done, Cary will now watch these trees thrive.

Spring Daze Arts Market

During the first four Saturdays of May, the Spring Daze Arts Market series was held at the Fidelity Bank Plaza in downtown Cary. Traditionally a one-day festival drawing over 15,000 citizens and 170 artisans, the reimagined arts market series featured 20-25 North Carolina artisans and welcomed an average of 1,400 citizens per week.

Moving Spring Daze from Bond Park to downtown Cary added to the vibrancy of downtown, seamlessly connecting to Cary’s Downtown Farmers Market and positively impacted businesses.

May is Garden for Wildlife Month

Cary celebrated National Garden for Wildlife Month this May. Education and outreach efforts outlined the importance of urban land stewardship to protect pollinators and how folks can get involved through our Cary Garden for Wildlife Program.

Cary kicked off the campaign by answering a call to action by the National Wildlife Federation to yet again take the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge in support of the majestic monarch butterfly. Additionally, staff experts from Hemlock Bluffs hosted two in-person education classes and produced an online video about wildflowers that had almost 350 views.

In collaboration with regional partners such as the NC State Cooperative Extension Service, the North Carolina Native Plant Society, and the Good Hope Farm non-profit partnership, Cary engaged with 16,793 people through a month-long social media campaign.

New General Manager of Koka Booth Amphitheatre

Cary and ASM Global are pleased to announce the appointment of Jamie Curtis as the General Manager of Koka Booth Amphitheatre (KBA). Curtis brings more than 25 years of experience to the role with a variety of entertainment venues, record labels, and more.

Most recently she has served as the Director of Marketing and Sales for ASM Global managed Wintrust Arena and Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. Curtis begins at KBA on June 1.

Additional Information of Interest

We found the following article 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:

  • Complaints about redistricting
  • A complaint about the Lilly Atkins rezoning proposal
  • A complaint about my State of Emergency Order which ended last week and a complaint that the Mask Up Campaign was a waste of money
  • A complaint about a water bill

Well, that is all for this week. I will be on vacation next week so my next post will be on Sunday, June 13th.  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.

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