Monday, January 25, 2010

Week in Review 1/18/10 - 1/23/10

The highlights of this week included the groundbreaking of the Cary Community Arts Center, a Planning and Development Committee meeting, Cary’s Sign Ordinance Review Task Force meeting and a few meetings with citizens.

Cary’s Sign Ordinance Review Task Force met on Wednesday evening. The goal of this task force is to see if there are ways in which Cary can be more flexible in allowing businesses to advertise while continuing to protect the visual landscape and character in Cary.

Councilwoman Gale Adcock joined the task force this week replacing Councilman Portman who had to resign due to scheduling conflicts. Welcome aboard, Gale! This was the task force’s second meeting and discussion topics included principle ground signs and shopping center signs. We reviewed Cary’s current ordinance and that of a number of different communities and discussed what changes – if any – we might be amenable to. The consensus of the group was to continue to require materials found in the associated development (brick, stone, etc..) but to also see how we might be a little more flexible regarding materials used to construct the sign itself to allow for more creativity, as well as different fonts, sizes, and logos. There was also an interesting discussion regarding signs and their readability on roads with different speed limits; should we allow larger signage on highways with higher speed limits to increase readability? I look forward to seeing what staff brings back to the group after our input.

On Thursday I met with a citizen to discuss the proposed zoning changes to the Russell Hills community and her desire to see us protect the character of the existing community while still allowing for reinvestment and redevelopment.

Afterwards was our Planning and Development Committee meeting. We had two consent agenda items and one discussion item. The item for discussion was consideration of acceptance of a design concept for integrated art enhancements for Cary’s C-Tran bus shelters. Approving the concept is one thing – paying for it is another. While I support the proposed artwork, I do not support funding it until Cary’s financial situation improves. I also would like to see Cary pursue sponsorship opportunities with the private sector to help cover these costs.

Saturday was a great day for Cary as we broke ground on the new Cary Community Arts Center in downtown. 147 years after it began, old Cary Elementary School is embarking on a new adventure in education, once again poised to play a critical role in the next chapter of Cary!

Preserving our heritage and our history is of utmost importance to me and the council. Old Cary Elementary School is one of Cary’s most precious historic resources, and is in dire need of repairs. Of all our town’s capital projects, this particular project – in my opinion – is our most important. I cannot in good conscience support new capital projects in Cary while Cary Elementary further deteriorates. The longer we wait to make these improvements, the more expensive this project becomes, and by moving forward now we are able to get it done for nearly $4 million LESS than anticipated. This project will be funded with cash on hand, and will not add to the town’s debt level or tax burden of our citizens.

I cannot thank the hundreds of volunteers and our town staff enough for all their efforts to make this project a reality. I believe Councilman Jack Smith said it best, “Finally!” Yes, Jack, Finally!

You can read more about it and see photos here.

I also attended two political functions this week - the Wake County Republican Party’s Executive Committee meeting and the Wake County Young Republican Club’s meeting. Remind me next time to avoid Hillsborough Street until they finish construction – what a mess! ;-)

That’s about it for this week. As always, thanks for reading!