Saturday, August 30, 2008

Week in Review 8/24/08 - 8/30/08

It’s been a busy week – and It’s about to get a lot busier. I’m writing from about 35,000 feet in the sky on my way to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis St. Paul. Hey, I think I can see my house from here! ;-)

I am really looking forward to seeing the twin cities. I have heard many wonderful things about Minnesota – even despite the fact it’s where MattD is from. (Hi Matt!) ;-)

Anyways, I plan (key word is “plan”) to give daily updates on the convention and associated events so please remember to check back often to see what’s new. Now on to the week in review!

This week consisted of a lot of correspondence between citizens and neighborhood groups, members of town staff, and council.

Monday evening I attended the Western Wake Republican Club’s monthly meeting at Bentley’s at Crossroads. NC State Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry was our guest speaker. She spoke about her duties as our states labor commissioner, changes she has made to the department since assuming the position, and her upcoming reelection campaign.

Tuesday evening council held a worksession to discuss potential council district redistricting. In a nutshell the districts are out of balance. For example: District A has over 47,000 people in it while District D has only 26,000 – it’s not fair for one representative to have nearly twice the population as another. Council reviewed numerous redistricting scenarios, and in my opinion developed a great proposal to move forward for public hearing and citizen input. One councilor however wanted more time to “gather more information” so we directed staff to find out the answers to a couple of questions and get back to us. Some on council have made it clear they are opposed to redistricting at this time – and that’s fine. But we need to decide on this sooner than later, next year’s elections will be here before you know it.

Wednesday I met with a newly formed downtown neighborhood group comprised of residents in the Waldo Road/Hunter and Clay Street area. About 20-25 downtown homeowners were in attendance, as were representatives of the Cary Police Department. The group has been formed to better address issues of neighborhood decay and crime, as well as to foster a positive working relationship with the town. I spent the majority of time at this meeting educating folks on our downtown plans, our citizen boards and commissions, local non profit groups, and town processes in general. I was very impressed with how motivated and committed these folks were, and I was especially pleased – all things considered – that they have very positive attitudes. That will go a long ways towards working for positive change in one’s community.

Thursday was our council meeting. There were a number of public hearings on the agenda. The one that received the most discussion however was a proposal to rezone property from low density residential to medium density near Cary Park. It will be interesting to see how this one moves through the process, and what changes are ultimately made to the project before it comes back to council for decision.

The most interesting topic of discussion however was the proposal to locate an “art tower” where the water tower currently sits across from Cary Elementary School. The water tower has been decommissioned and will be removed soon. The idea is to replace the water tower with public art.

Great idea - wrong art.

I appreciate the hard work of our public art advisory board, the artists, and our town staff on this project. I really do. I just did not approve of the proposed piece, and neither did most everyone else I spoke with about it – even the majority of online comments were negative. It is a 150 foot tall bronze/orange metal girder industrial looking thing shooting up high into the sky that would “tower” over the existing residential community; becoming a permanent back yard view for many. Art is one of those things that people like, or don’t like. But it shouldn’t be forced upon folks. It’s like that body world exhibit that came around a while back – gross! But hey, some people liked it, and those who didn't weren't forced to look at it so it’s all good. The majority of folks surrounding this piece didn’t like it, yet they would be forced to see it each and every day. It’s a150 feet tall – you couldn’t not look at it if you didn’t want to. I also have public safety concerns. This piece screams “climb me!” Sure you can put a fence around it, but unless the fence is 20 feet tall and covered with barbed wire you aren’t keeping determined 16 year old boys off of it I promise you.

I made the motion to not approve the art advisory board’s recommendation, and to instruct them to work on a design that was more in character with the surrounding community and utilized more traditional materials; think clock tower, bell tower, or even a carillon - something that would complement the old Cary Elementary building and our downtown’s historic district. Thankfully the motion passed 4-3.

Council also officially decided to “seek candidates” for the soon to be vacant town manager’s position. We also appointed Assistant Town Manager Ben Shivar as Interim Town Manager until our search is complete. I voted against the search as I do not believe it is worth the $30,000.00+ it will cost when I believe we already have the best candidate for the job right under our noses in Mr. Shivar. Council will decide what kind of search (national, statewide, hired firm, etc..) to do at our next meeting once we receive more information from human resources.

Friday was spent catching up on email and reports in preparation for being out of town for nearly a week, and Staurday (today) morning I was up at 5:45 am to get ready to catch my morning flight to Minneapolis St Paul. 5:45 on a Saturday morning is WAY too early for me let me tell you. ;-)

Chat with you more tonight hopefully – take care and as always, thanks for reading.