Monday, January 18, 2010

Week In Review 1/11/10 - 1/16/10

This week mainly consisted of a few meetings with local residents and elected officials, a council meeting and our retreat.

I met with WCPSS School Board member Debra Goldman on Tuesday to discuss relocating a bus stop at Evans and Evans Estates Roads to better protect children from the existing high speed traffic on Evans and future construction traffic associated with an approved subdivision. We also discussed her service on the school board thus far and her thoughts about how things are progressing along.

Council’s last meeting was on December 10th last year. It’s been over a month since we last met and not one development related item on our agenda for discussion. We continue to feel the effects of the struggling economy. While no development might be good news to some folks in Cary, the reality is that if this trend continues for much longer Cary will have a very difficult time maintaining the high levels of service that our citizens expect. A healthy growth rate of around 3-4% provides new revenues (tax base) to the town that funds new infrastructure projects, amenities, and services. Hopefully this trend won’t continue for much longer.

After a month of debate both on a local and national level I am pleased to report that the council voted 6-1 to approve my request to call the town’s tree lighting ceremony Cary’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, and to call our Community Tree Cary’s Community Christmas Tree. I have already blogged on this topic HERE so I won’t recap it again.

Council also unanimously voted to deny the proposed single quadrant intersection design proposal for the Cary Parkway and High House intersection, and we directed town staff to further solicit citizen input and look for other alternative designs and options. A number of folks have expressed concerns that existing traffic at this intersection are not that bad, and were confused as to why we were looking to redesign the intersection. For the most part they are correct. However, once the approved Davis and High House projects and the Park West project in Morrisville are completed, and as our community continues to grow, the level of service at this intersection will continue to deteriorate. This is unacceptable to council and we are trying to plan ahead and ensure that adequate infrastructure is in place before growth occurs.

I have attended six council retreats over the years – three as a member of council, and three as an observer. It may sound cliché but this year’s retreat was hands down the best I have ever attended. I think this was due largely in part to less presentation and more discussion among council and staff.

Day one consisted of a comprehensive review of the town and its departments (where are we now) and a visioning exercise (what do we envision Cary looking like in 2030?) Council discussed a wide range of topics including stormwater quantity and quality, growth, densities, public safety, environmental protection, parks and recreation and cultural arts, and technology.

Day two focused on Cary’s downtown. Yes I know we’ve talked about downtown at nearly every retreat Cary has had, but this time it was different. Given the current economic climate and our lack of confidence that we will rebound anytime in the near future we reevaluated current plans and focused on how we can better work with the county to site a regional library downtown, and how we may better incent the private sector to implement our vision for us.

Council agreed that the new library would best fit in the future downtown park, and we agreed to locate the future performing arts center near town hall to both help incent redevelopment on the north side of downtown, and to take advantage of existing structured parking.

Council also discussed the future high speed rail and light rail plans and how that will impact our downtown. We will be working very closely with all stakeholders involved to ensure that these rail initiatives –should they become reality – do not negatively impact our vision for downtown.

That's about it for this week, as always, thanks for reading!