The Adaptive Approach to Stormwater
The five Adaptive Stormwater sub-groups (Maintenance, Modeling, Open Space, Ordinance and the Working Group) have been working hard to push the envelope in how we view stormwater through an adaptive lens.
Our Public Works crews have cleaned and video-inspected one-third of the storm drains within the pilot area of the Walnut Creek Basin to ensure they are functioning to 100 percent of their design capacity and to evaluate the pipes for structural condition and integrity. With the exception of York Street, crews have found only minor debris accumulation and root intrusion into a few pipe segments. Two catch basins on York Street were completely full of sediment and sand, and the pipe outlet on the stream bank was blocked by accumulated debris. Public Works crew removed the sediment within the storm drainage pipe and stabilized the pipe outlet with riprap.
The maintenance practices will continue in the pilot area and then expand to other priority areas within the Town as identified through the Town’s Condition Assessment and Risk Prioritization program.
The hydraulic model for Walnut Creek existing conditions is complete and is now being used to evaluate a series of physical alternatives to reduce the impact of predicted flooding to structures in the pilot area. The alternatives include installing under- and above-ground storage, enlarging drainage pipes, adding green infrastructure and modifying existing ponds and channels. These alternatives are being evaluated to determine the degree of benefit to homes with predicted flooding. By quantifying the benefits, staff will be able to run a cost-benefit analysis to help determine locations for the most effective stormwater improvements.
The Open Space Group has identified the Tree Advisory Committee, a sub-committee of the Environmental Advisory Board, as an important stakeholder within our adaptive stormwater approach. The Open Space Group will work with the Tree Advisory Committee to holistically integrate shared goals that benefit the community.
In addition, the group is identifying and documenting existing data sets and GIS layers for open space/stormwater opportunities. The group is reviewing the Town’s open space policies and other guidance documents to see how they can work together with stormwater goals.
The Ordinance Group is evaluating existing stormwater-related ordinances and policies to determine if or how these inhibit or support our adaptive stormwater approach. The group has also identified a variety of challenges the Town will take into consideration as we move toward an adaptive stormwater approach. These challenges include level and extent of service, private drainage assistance, the incorporation of green infrastructure and how the Town manages exempt subdivisions. This group will be working to prepare options or solutions to bring to Council in the future as we begin implementation of this approach.
Downtown Working Group
The Downtown Stormwater Working Group (DSWG) has been active as they look for opportunities to make stormwater improvements that may reduce the impact of past and future development on existing properties. In April, the Working Group members conducted a walking tour of downtown stormwater and toured locations with underground detention, the Downtown Park and other various sites. As part of the tour, maintenance crews conducted a storm drain cleaning and video inspection demonstration that allowed participants to see first-hand the equipment and techniques used to inspect and maintain storm drainage pipes. The tour took advantage of an innovative story map to help direct attention to and supplement the tour information.
The next DSWG meeting is scheduled for summer. During this time, group members will meet with each of the adaptive stormwater subgroups, which will give the DSWG members the opportunity to engage and provide direct input on stormwater concepts, policies and procedures.
Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival
Cary celebrated the 25th Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival at Bond Park on April 28, 2018. A larger-than-usual group of attendees enjoyed the more than 170 artists participating in the festival.
In keeping with the importance of engaging youth in the arts, Bevin Neill, a senior at Cary High School, was selected as this year’s featured artist. Neill created a piece that portrayed the movement and excitement of spring by using an inverted dandelion. The festival also partnered with Green Hope High School students and environmental artist Bryant Holsenbeck on the Big Birds public art project. Holsenbeck guided students in a process to create four large birds from primarily recycled materials. One of the birds was auctioned and raised $375 to support the PRCR scholarship fund.
Pimento Cheese Festival
Cary held what is believed to be the first Pimento Cheese Festival in the country on June 9, 2018. The Festival featured over 20 food trucks, six dessert and ice cream vendors, seven local breweries and restaurant row — all serving items or providing tastings of pimento cheese. One of the highlights of the event was a pimento cheese sculpting contest, which introduced 12 contestants who were given five minutes to sculpt a mouse out of pimento cheese. The winner of the contest was chosen by the crowd’s applause.
Cary’s Pimento Cheese Festival was one of the most talked- about topics in the media this spring. The Festival event generated over 11,500 people who responded that they were either interested or going to the event. Many of the event posts leading up to the event generated dozens of comments, and a few generated well over 100 comments. As the buzz grew, the News & Observer wrote both online and print stories for the Saturday edition. Spectrum News also ran a four-minute segment on the festival.
It was estimated that more than 10,000 people attended.
Enchanted Misting Garden at Marla Dorrel Park
In June, the Enchanted Misting Garden, a project designed with misting arches surrounded by bronze and stone artwork, was dedicated at Marla Dorrel Park. The original plan for the play area at Marla Dorrel Park included the concept of an interactive water feature where children could cool off and play. After more than a decade and $40,000 in donations collected by Kids Together, Inc., that vision became a reality.
The art, entitled “Chimerical,” was created by artist Todd Frahm and consists of four bronze “chimeras,” which are whimsical creations consisting of the bodies of two separate animals. The artist held a workshop for the project. After observing a girl drawing a cat with the legs of an octopus, he was inspired to create something that was fantastically visionary, or improbable.
During cooler months, the garden will serve as an engaging space for resting, meeting and exploring.
Preserving Historic Resources
The Historic Facilities Interpretation and Rehabilitation Project is the Town’s multi-departmental effort to assess the physical condition of historic buildings at three town-owned properties: Barnabas Jones Farmstead at Jack Smith Park, the Good Hope Farm, and C. F. Ferrell Store and warehouses, both of which are in the Carpenter Historic District. A team of staff from Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources; Transportation & Facilities; and Planning held two public meetings in May to share the project with citizens and gather ideas on how the properties could be used in the future. In addition, the consultants held a workshop with the Historic Preservation Commission and Friends of the Page-Walker. These meetings yielded some common themes and creative concepts. The project consultants, CUBE design + research, are now reviewing and synthesizing the results of an existing conditions assessment, along with the historical research and public information gathered at these three meetings. The project team plans to have preliminary recommendations ready for Council review this fall.
Beyond: The Film Festival Takes Off
The Cary Theater took another step in its development as it launched Cary’s first film festival, BEYOND: The Film Festival, which celebrated the art of storytelling through cinema. The festival featured screenplay and short film competitions that are far beyond ordinary.
The festival, which is expected to be an annual event, spanned five days and kicked off with a free film in Downtown Park with a showing of Back to the Future. The festival celebrated The Cary’s own hometown stories by inviting Faye Chandler, the daughter of the theater’s original owner, to share stories of the theater in its infancy in the late ‘40s and ‘50s. A partnership with the Sister Cities Association of Cary highlighted an award-winning Taiwanese film entitled Missing Johnny. In addition, the theater hosted a screenplay competition entitled BEYOND, which provided the winning screenplay with a table read during the festival. This was done to show the beginning stages of film development.
We are confident that this will grow into a must-not-miss event for Cary.
40th Cary Road Race
On Saturday, April 14, 1,100 participants gathered downtown for the 40th Annual Cary Road Race. The race moved downtown, where it first began, after several great years at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Registration in the 5 Miler, 5K and Fun Run reached the highest participation levels in many years, and there was much excitement and energy downtown on a beautiful spring morning.
Runners, who ranged in age from 6 to 83, maneuvered the courses through downtown. Included among them was Mayor Weinbrecht, who finished third in his age group in the 5 Miler! Every runner received a commemorative 40th anniversary medal.
The event created a real party atmosphere, with food trucks and live music on stage at Downtown Park throughout the morning.
Cary Continues as an Amateur and Collegiate Sports Destination
Cary was excited to welcome the ACC and NCAA championship tournaments back to USA Baseball and the Cary Tennis Park this spring. Following the March 2017 repeal of HB2, staff and regional committees worked diligently to bring these events back to North Carolina. The Cary Tennis Park hosted the ACC Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championship in April with over 3,000 attending, compared to 1,853 in 2016. Ticket revenue increased from $8,814 in 2016 to $10,400 in 2018.
In May, the NCAA D2 Baseball championships returned to USA Baseball National Training Complex to rave reviews by the teams and NCAA staff and committee members. Mark Clements, NCAA Baseball Committee Chair said, “I can say being here in Cary is like heaven. It’s coming home.” Attendance peaked at 7,319 and net revenue to Cary was $25,594. The combined economic impact for the area was over $4.9 million for these two week-long events.
Internal Rap Sessions
We are halfway through our 2018 rap sessions for Town of Cary employees. Held the third Wednesday of every month, these sessions have proven to be an incredibly popular event. Each session has had 50-70 employees attend to engage in meaningful dialogue and courageous conversations. Hosted by the police department and facilitated by Tru Pettigrew, these conversations have included subjects such as Race, Generational Differences, Why Do We Have A Black History Month, Trust, Microaggressions and the #MeToo Movement. The feedback received from our staff indicate that these conversations have not only been meaningful and productive, but they have also generated discussions among staff — and with their friends and family — outside the rap sessions. We believe these honest, open and judgment-free discussions, which are slated to continue through the remainder of 2018, are bringing us closer together as a Town of Cary family and will enable us to work more closely together for the benefit of our citizens and community.
150th Anniversary Planning
As we inch closer to the Town’s milestone anniversary, Town staff is busy planning for a vast year-long sesquicentennial celebration. Kicking off in January 2020, Cary’s birthday will be celebrated each month in various ways, including at our existing festivals and events. It will be a party for everyone, and we look forward to seeing how our community would like to celebrate! Currently staff is focusing on encouraging neighbors, groups, and organizations to participate and giving them the tools to host and enjoy their celebrations. An internal staff group will soon begin working with the appointed sesquicentennial advisory board on further initiatives.