Harold’s Blog: Greenway Connectors & General Assembly Updates
Cary, NC — This was another light week as the council and staff prepare for our first quarterly meeting of the year next week.
Meetings & Tennis Championship Board
Monday I met with the town manager and town attorney to discuss elections, and ordinances related to discrimination. Our meeting lasted about 30 minutes.
Later Monday I met with the Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships board. The tournament date for this year is set for September 11th through the 18th. Our discussion focused on getting our community and businesses involved. This may include new events during the tournament. Our next meeting is scheduled for March 7th.
Interview with the “Living in Cary” Podcast
Thursday I participated in a podcast interview with Wayne Holt who is a local builder located in downtown Cary. This was the first of his podcasts which will be called “Living in Cary”. Some of the questions included:
- How would you describe Cary to those who aren’t familiar with it?
- As Mayor what are some of the things you look back on in your tenure that you’re most proud of about this town?
- What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing Cary these days?
- What are some of your goals for the future of Cary?
Our taping was completed in less than an hour.
NC Metro Mayors Discuss General Assembly, Transit
Friday morning I joined a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. The following is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:
- Larger cities have submitted ARP Reports to US Treasury
- ACTION ITEM: Please send a copy of your ARP report to: [email protected] & [email protected]
- NCLM is starting a regular update in the League Bulletin about what cities are doing with ARP money and they want to share your stories.
- NCLM Bulletin stories – ARP in Action
- When you have ribbon cuttings, consider inviting your members of Congress to demonstrate the work that is associated with the ARP.
- While the NCGA is officially in session, there is no regular committee work or votes taking place.
- We are waiting to see what happens with the maps. The State Supreme Court had their hearing on Wednesday of this week. We expect a ruling to be issued quickly (by early next week).
- We assume the Court will return a ruling for the General Assembly to redraw the maps with specific instructions. They could also rule that a Special Master participate with the same instructions.
- The legislature will have 14 days to review, draw, and execute new maps. The maps do NOT go to the Governor for action.
- The General Assembly may also consider budget technical corrections language for specific agencies, but we expect the scope of items they take up to be extremely narrow.
- Current timing for elections is still May 17 for the Primary, but this date is likely to move. Feel free to call Beau as you prepare your budgets to navigate this issue.
- The NC Transportation Summit was held in Raleigh. All of the presentations and materials from the conference can be found HERE
- The big issue for cities continues to be the delay in major transportation projects.
Nothing new to report. Congrats to Greensboro and Triad for both Toyota and Boom Supersonic and Concord/Kannapolis for Eli Lilly job announcements.
Ryan Berni, White House Special Advisor for Infrastructure. Introduction by Evan Wessel, White House IGA. They shared an update on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and BUILD.GOV & Guidebook – focus on Building a Better America opportunities for cities.
- The intent of the guidebook is to increase access to information to provide for planning on the front end. There is also an excellent summary of local grant opportunities attached to the email.
- The 400-page guidebook was released this week and provides an overview of each program. There are over 375 programs with opportunities for local governments, most existing funding programs, but there are also 125 new programs for locals to consider applying for.
- Each page lists the agency name, who is eligible, timeline, and key program information. The file is also searchable/sortable so you can filter the information you are looking for.
- The White House is organizing webinars over the next six weeks for deep dives into specific programs. In addition, NCLM and Metro Mayors are organizing a grants overview webinar for city managers and staff. Beau will make sure you get the details for these informational sessions as soon as they are available.
- As your cities begin to initiate projects or stand-up programs with federal dollars (incl. both ARP and the Infrastructure funds)– PLEASE consider inviting your Members of Congress to participate in the events. We need to make sure they are seeing the impact of the funding they have entrusted us with. Remember – both of our Republican Senators were a key part of the bipartisan vote in favor the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The meeting concluded after thirty minutes.
New Cary Food Waste Drop-Off Now Open on Dixon Street
Friday the town announced the Cary Food Waste Drop-Off on Dixon Street will be opened on Monday, February 7th. This drop-off is a new way for residents to divert household food waste from landfills and return it to the earth as valuable compost through its food waste recycling drop-off pilot.
This site, the first of its kind in Cary, will gauge citizen interest and participation in this style of service to reduce food waste in trash and provide data for analysis of the impact on the Town’s solid waste stream and management program. The following is additional information based on questions received:
What is the pilot Food Waste Recycling Drop-Off?
Cary’s pilot food waste recycling drop-off is a new local option for residents to turn food waste into compost. All material is processed by a local facility and some of that finished compost will be hauling services in this pilot. The drop-off is a year-long pilot service that will allow the Town to evaluate the community’s receptivity to food waste recycling and the impact it has on the solid waste stream. According to a 2019 study, 27% of Cary’s waste that goes to the landfill is considered food waste. Cary has also partnered with Toward Zero Waste Cary to provide education resources, planned efforts, and events that will support citizens’ participation in the program.
What is accepted at the pilot drop-off?
- Food Scraps and leftovers (raw or cooked)
- Coffee grounds, filters, tea bags
- Napkins, paper towels
- Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) Certified items
- Paper plates (non-coated/glossy)
- Pizza boxes
- Pet Food
How do I use the drop-off?
Collect food scraps at home and bring to the drop-off during operating hours. Toss the accepted items in the food waste collection carts on-site or, contain your scraps in a Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified bag and then toss them in the cart.
How is this different from backyard composting?
Food scraps collected at the drop-off are taken to an NC commercial grade composting facility composting facility that achieves significantly higher temperatures; meaning, more items such as meat, dairy projects, and bones can be more effectively composted than in a backyard system. Learn more about backyard composting; https://www.townofcary.org/composts
Is there a limit to how much I can bring?
There is no limit to the amount you can bring if there is room in the carts. However, we encourage you to first reduce your food waste; tips to consider at https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home
I am looking forward to this pilot program getting started and hope that the community shows interest.
New Schedule for Candidate Filing & Elections
Friday evening the council was notified by the town attorney that the NC Supreme Court issued a ruling striking down the legislative and congressional redistricting maps.
The General Assembly was ordered to redraw new maps by February 18 and submit them to the three-judge trial court panel. The trial court must either approve the General Assembly maps or adopt its own maps by February 23. Here is the current schedule based on that decision:
- February 24 – filing opens
- March 4 – filing closes
- May 17 – election day
- July 5 – municipal runoff date if second primaries are needed for state races and no second primaries are needed for federal races
- July 26 – municipal runoff date if second primary is needed for any federal race or if no second primaries are needed for state or federal races
Stay tuned for more changes.
Recording the State of Cary Address
Sunday I did several on-location tapings for the video version of the State of Cary address. This version was taped at the USA Baseball National Training Center, the Davis Dive Park greenway tunnel, and Good Hope farm. The on-location tapings took about three hours.
Deputy Town Manager’s Report
The following is the weekly report from the Deputy Town Manager:
After three weeks of weekend snow, Groundhog’s Day came and went with a prediction of six more weeks of winter – followed by two sixty-degree days. Welcome to North Carolina winter – sorry Sean! In all seriousness, I am thankful that our staff received a much-needed break from snow removal this weekend.
In other news, I look forward to seeing each of you on Thursday at the Quarterly Meeting. Staff will provide updates on our branding effort, as well as other financial, capital project, development, and environmental updates. By the end of the meeting, you should be completely up to date so there will not be a Council Weekly Report on February 11.
Public Safety Update
Currently there are 52 town employees infected with Covid-19 bringing the total to 447 since the pandemic began. The employee vaccination rate is at 89% while the citizen vaccination rate is at 76% which is the second highest in Wake County behind Apex.
Cary leads the county in the percentage of most boosted out of those eligible. Cary is second in case rate per 100,000. Infections and hospitalizations are declining in the county and state.
Development Pulse Report
The January 2022 Development Pulse Report is now available.
- USA Baseball Office & Training Complex Improvements, 280 Brooks Park Lane: The building permit was approved for a new facility located between Coleman Field and the parking lot. Assembly space is approximately 22,000 sq. ft. of unconditioned flexible space; full-size baseball infield or up to eight pitching/batting lanes and three individual training spaces. Tenant spaces to include new office and warehouse. Remaining spaces include staff offices, classroom, restrooms, showers and storage spaces. Construction will be phased to minimize disturbance of existing operations.
- Crosstown Pub, 154/156 East Chatham Street: The building permit was approved to expand existing food service and restaurant into adjacent vacant suite in the former Daylight Café location.
- Twin Lakes Apartments, 1015 Hatches Pond Lane: The building permits were approved for new apartment buildings within the Twin Lake PDP. The development will construct 230 units with site amenities and structured and surface parking.
Fire Station 9 Receives Design Award
Fire Station 9 received a 2021 Fire Station Design Awards Program recognition award from Fire Industry Education Research Organization (FIERO), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving firefighter health and safety.
Recognition awards go to those projects for which four out of six jurors agree that the project exemplifies excellence in all aspects of planning and design, including site plan, floor plan(s), innovation, and architectural image.
An online magazine, FireRescue1, spotlighted the award in its January 28 edition.
Community Rezoning Meeting
Cary will host a virtual community rezoning meeting on February 16 at 6:30 p.m. to provide a second opportunity for citizens to provide comment on the proposed rezoning at 921 SE Maynard Road (21-REZ-18). In partnership with Laurel Street LLC, this town-owned site is proposed to be developed into 130 mixed-income units, consistent with the goals of the Cary Housing Plan.
For more information on the development visit the 2021 Rezoning Cases page and to register for the meeting, visit the Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meetings page.
Thomas Brooks Park Sand Volleyball
Construction of two sand volleyball courts began this week at Thomas Brooks Park. Contractors will clear, grade, install court drainage, a retaining wall, fencing, and lights, then staff will finish volleyball courts by installing sand and netting. The courts will be open this spring.
Academy Street Water Main Replacement Update
Beginning on February 8, the northbound lane on Academy St (from Chatham St to Cedar St) will be closed to traffic while crews install a new water main as part of the annual water main replacement project.
Once this segment is finished, it will complete a larger run of pipe between the Field Street elevated water storage tank and the heart of downtown. Traffic control signs and barricades will be posted and a detour around the work area via Chatham St & Harrison Avenue will be in place.
The work is expected to last approximately one week. Southbound traffic on N. Academy St will not be impacted.
Phone Service Interruption
Cary’s phone service provider, Windstream, experienced issues this week causing the Town to be unable to receive inbound calls for a portion of the day Wednesday.
Windstream moved the Town’s circuits which supports the phones to a new piece of hardware and removed the legacy hardware to reduce the potential for outage due to failure. In doing so, the new hardware was not processing calls correctly.
To get phones working properly Windstream rolled back the change and put the legacy hardware back into service.
This action restored phone services. Staff was unaware that Windstream was making changes, and Windstream has committed to coordinating the next maintenance window with MIT Operations to ensure staff is on site to prevent this issue from impacting Town business in the future.
Weston Crabtree Connector Greenway Project Update
A virtual public meeting was held on February 3 with nearby residents and local businesses for the Weston Crabtree Connector greenway project. Staff along with consultants from Withers & Ravenel presented project location, goals, and artist renderings of the future trail and pedestrian tunnel.
The project will complete a 1,000-ft gap between the Crabtree Creek Greenway and numerous neighborhood trails to the south. The tunnel, which is proposed to be similar to the one on White Oak Creek Greenway near Davis Drive, will safely carry greenway traffic beneath Weston Parkway.
Meet and Greet with the Jewish Community Relations Council
On January 28, members of the Police Department’s command staff welcomed Janis Zaremba, Jorie Slodki, and Judah Segal of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) a meet and greet.
The JCRC is a locally based organization which operates as the local, grass roots affiliate of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs organization. They aim to represent the consensus of the organized Jewish community in the cities in which they operate, and then assist in consulting other local stakeholders on matters of importance to Jewish community values.
Both groups discussed how the JCRC can serve as a liaison to the Police Department, and how together we can form a partnership to find solutions through collaborative problem solving and improved public trust. To quote the Jewish Federation of Raleigh/Cary, “together we are the community!”
Hybrid Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Advisory Board
Mon, Feb. 7
Hybrid Information Services Advisory Board
Mon, Feb. 7
Hybrid Environmental Advisory Board
Tues, Feb. 8
Historic Preservation Commission
Wed, Feb. 9
Council Meeting (Quarterly)
Thurs, Feb. 10
Emails this week included:
- Dozens of emails asking the town to support a town-initiated rezoning for affordable housing.
- A request to help with solar at Green Level High School
- A request to gauge interest for public drinking districts in downtown
- A complaint about Wake County EMS response times
- A complaint about a residence on Walker Street
- A request for help with getting EV chargers at Chatham Walk
- A request to pay for car damage obtained on a NCDOT maintained road
- A complaint about staff’s response to housing rehab
- Praise for staff in helping with a water leak issue
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, tapings for the State of Cary Address, a staff-council quarterly meeting, a North Carolina Metro Mayors meeting, a surprise birthday party, and a meeting about a celebrity dance for Cary Diwali this year.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 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 [email protected] and email personal comments to [email protected].
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images from Town of Cary.
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