Anyways, after we finished the season at Wake County Speedway we decided to run races at Carteret County Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park so that took a lot of time and preparation. We had a blast and did ok for our first time at both tracks. Shortly after that the holidays rolled around and, well, here we are. Good things come to those who wait right? ;-)
So without further ado (is that how you spell that? Spell check says its right but I thought it was some weird French word or something?) here is an update on some of the things that have been happening over the last few months.
Well, it only took four years but we did it. At our last meeting the council unanimously adopted the Cary Community Plan. The Community Plan is the result of Imagine Cary – a comprehensive planning effort led by our citizens, town staff, consultants, business and community leaders, planning and transportation experts, our town boards, commissions and council members to develop a single integrated update to Cary’s long range plan and set the course for our community’s future. The plan focuses on growth, development, transportation, economics, the environment and other related topics. It is way more than just a land use plan, the plan articulates Cary’s values and vision and will serve as our guide as the community grows over the next 20 years or so.
While that sounds all sunshine, puppies and rainbows, this was no easy task I promise you. There were a lot of hiccups and distractions along the way; a major one being the Eastern Gateway Plan. This is the area near Cary Town Center Mall and Cary Town Blvd. Developers were/are interested in developing this area with shopping, residential and office (to include a Wegmans Grocery) and we needed to have a plan in place that reflected Cary’s vision for that area fast. Imagine Cary was put on hold for a while so that we could focus on developing the Eastern Gateway component and adopt that first so that what gets developed here is Cary quality and meets our expectations.
On a related note, I cannot comment on the rumors of IKEA coming here. All I can say right now without running the risk of getting myself in trouble is that we hope to announce that a major global retailer will be coming to the Cary Town Center Mall area in the near future. You figure it out ;-)
Now as with any plan, I am sure that over time we will find a few things we got wrong. That’s what plan amendments are for. But we also tried real hard to build flexibility within the plan so it is our hope that any amendments will be far and few between. I can honestly say I am pleased with 90-95% of the plan. I didn’t think I would be able to say that two years ago. I love it when a plan comes together ;-)
Thanks so much to everyone who worked so hard on and participated in the Imagine Cary process – especially our citizens. This plan is a better product because of everyone’s involvement.
If you have been downtown lately – and I know you have because where else would you want to go? – you have surely noticed that the Academy Street Streetscape Project has been completed! About dang time right? It looks absolutely beautiful! If you haven’t yet walked the street and taken a look at some of the artwork please do – the benches are amazing! Phase one of the downtown park (the town square) is nearing completion and we hope to have that finished by March.
The Downtown library and parking deck have been approved and will begin construction soon. You can learn more about that here and here.
The construction at Midtown Square is nearing completion and we recently broke ground for the new Annelore’s German Bakery on Chatham Street. LaFarm Bakery is also currently under construction at the corner of Harrison and Chatham Street. A number of other businesses that have announced plans to come downtown or that have already opened include: Pizzeria Faulisi, Pro’s Epicurean Markey and Café, FRESH Ice Cream, Bottle Dog Bites and Brew and Hustle Fitness Studio. If I forgot anyone I apologize – it’s a lot to keep up with!
There are a number of other plans and projects in the works and we hope to be making more announcements soon! Exciting times in downtown Cary!
Councilman Ed Yerha and I taped a winter weather preparedness edition of Cary Matters so if you’d like to learn more about what the town does when old man winter shows, click the video below (assuming it shows up correctly - I think I did it right?). We had fun with this one ;-)
Cary’s newest K9 officer, Lemm was sworn in on December 20th. Lemm is a 16 month old Belgain Malinois from Poland. Lemm is named after fallen serviceman Joseph Lemm who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2015 – the same year that Lemm was born. Lemm replaces Cary K9 Robby who unfortunately was forced to retire early due to an issue with his hips. Robby served for 5 years as a patrol and drug detection K9. The council approved a resolution that allows Robby to serve out the remainder of his life with his best friend and handler, Officer Humphries. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the North Carolina General Assembly – especially NC Representative Gale Adcock – who worked with cities and towns across North Carolina to pass a bill that allows service animals to remain with their owners/handlers once they are taken out of service.
Funding for Lemm was made possible thanks to the generous donation of $7500 from Richard and Judy Hendrickson of Cary. If you happen to see the Hendricksons please make a point to say, “Thank You!” We are forever grateful.
Cary got its first K9 in 2005. Since then Cary’s K9 program has expanded into a pack of three dogs, each with its own handler: K9 Chase and Officer Seth Everett; K9 Tayber and Officer Scott McInerny; and now K9 Lemm and Officer Phil Humphries. K9 Robby joins K9 Axel and K9 Max as members of the Town’s retired K9 Unit.
|Retiring K9 Robby with Officer Humphries|
Cary Wins Gold!
In October 2016, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in partnership with the American Academy for Park and Recreation, awarded the Town of Cary the 2016 Gold Medal Award for Excellence in the field of Park and Recreation Management. This is the highest award a community can receive within the field of parks and recreation.
Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities throughout the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development, and agency recognition. Entries are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff, and elected officials.
This is HUGE. Simply put, Cary has THE BEST Parks and Recreation Department in the nation among cities our size (population of 150,000 – 400,000). There is only one gold medal award winner - we don’t share this award with any other city. That is how big of a deal this is.
Cary takes tremendous pride in providing the best Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources amenities as possible and our parks system is one of the things that makes Cary the great place to live, work and especially play that it is. This doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a total team effort from our town employees, board and commission volunteers and most importantly, YOU, our citizens. Cary Rocks!
You can learn more about this major accomplishment here.
|Simply The Best!|
Alston Ridge Middle School
Cary is getting a new Middle School! At our December Quasi-Judicial meeting we approved the development plans for the new Alston Ridge Middle School in West Cary. The school will be located just south of Alston Ridge Elementary School. I know, creative name right? ;-) Anyways, it will be a 230,000 square foot three story building complete with athletic fields and an outdoor basketball court.
Cary has been in desperate need of another middle school for years and this will help (key word being help - not meant to imply solve) alleviate current overcrowding conditions in West Cary.
This past weekend we held our council-staff retreat in Wrightsville Beach, NC. I will write about this in a future blog as there is so much to talk about and this topic really deserves it’s own post – and y’all are probably running out of interest on this one right about now ;-) I will say it was one of our best – if not the best - retreats ever!
That’s all for now. I’ll post again as soon as I get done working on the race car ;-) Thanks for reading!