Given a rapidly growing number of retirements within the Fire Department, Fire and Human Resources staff began to look for innovative ways to recruit, hire, train and onboard new recruits. In the past, recruit academies have ranged from 14 to 26 weeks depending on the recruit qualifications. Knowing that the market was rich with experienced firefighters eager to work for Cary, we made the decision to offer a lateral entry program for candidates with requisite certifications and at least two years of professional firefighting experience.
Our recruitment generated 131 applicants. An excellent group of diverse candidates moved through the selection process over the course of four months. On April 16, 15 new recruit firefighters were hired and, under the guidance of the Fire Department’s training division, were prepared to provide service to the citizens in four weeks. These new firefighters came with a wealth of experience from a variety of places, including Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro and Fayetteville, among others. The new firefighters will now continue their training as members of one of the department’s 15 fire companies operating from nine fire stations.
Opioid Response Project
Since being named a Champion City by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge program, we continue to test and improve our idea to build a healthier, stronger community by measuring, in near real-time, the daily collective concentration of various opioid metabolites in wastewater from distinct areas. The process has been helped this quarter by receiving $100,000 grant from the Bloomberg Foundation. With this funding, staff was able to execute a contract with Biobot Analytics for sampling, chemical analysis and data analysis.
During May and early June, Biobot Analytics was in Cary conducting proof of concept testing. Many lessons were learned through this exercise, and the first round of pilot sampling was started during the third week of June at 10 sample sites located throughout Town. Additionally, several workshops were held with our public health, data analytic and Bloomberg Foundation partners to discuss how this new dataset will be used to create new, more effective programs combating the opioid epidemic.
Finally, this quarter we started in earnest a community conversation about the stigma associated with the misuse of prescription drugs and drug overdoses that mask the extent of the problem in our neighborhoods and hamper the use of some easily implemented, highly-effective practices by families. This effort is being led by our Fire Department.
Buried Assets Management Plan
In May, we completed the Town’s first Buried Infrastructure Asset Management Plan, a document that will serve as the roadmap to protect our investments in our underground infrastructure, including water, wastewater, stormwater and reclaimed water systems. Over the past year, a cross-departmental group of Town employees worked together to create this plan, lending their expertise and guidance to influence and inform the plan’s vision and strategies. The primary goal of this plan is to ensure that the Town delivers on the Imagine Cary Community Plan’s commitment to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective utility and stormwater services to our citizens. The plan includes a multi-year task list that defines the activities and timeline necessary to achieve this goal. Initial tasks include improving the quality of GIS data, piloting new stormwater maintenance and inspection practices, harnessing the Salesforce work order system and refining the rehabilitation and replacement prioritization structure.
Implementation of this plan has already begun, with projects such as the stormwater GIS improvements, force main condition assessment and stormwater pipe cleaning and TV inspection programs well underway. Looking beyond implementation for buried infrastructure, the results of the plan are adaptable and scalable to other Town infrastructure types that also face asset management challenges. Work is currently underway toward incorporating vertical infrastructure—such as buildings, roofs, and HVAC—into our asset management planning. This plan will be foundational to help us further optimize data-driven recommendations for long-term funding of our built infrastructure maintenance and capital improvements needs.
Fire Station 8 Update
Fire Station 9 is the final piece in the multi-step process to ensure the Fire Department meets current and future demands associated with response-time goals in serving both the downtown area and the Crossroads/U.S.1 corridor area. In 2012, the citizens approved a Community Investment Bond referendum, which funded the construction of new Fire Station 2, located at 601 E. Chatham Street. Station 2 opened in December 2015 to better serve the downtown area. The former Station 2 was renamed Fire Station 9 with plans to relocate Station 9 to 1427 Walnut Street to better serve the Crossroads/US 1 corridor area. The new two-story, three- bay Fire Station 9 will be approximately 17,500 square feet and will contain typical amenities, such as sleeping quarters, a dayroom and a kitchen. The station will also include a 1,400 square foot multi-purpose training room that will be available for Town training and events as needed. The project has been advertised for construction and bids should be presented to Town Council this summer. Construction activities and a corresponding groundbreaking celebration are anticipated this fall.
Legislation Enacted in Q4
In addition to legislation regarding building inspections discussed in Shape, the General Assembly adopted other legislation of interest to the Town in Q4.
Apex’s request to annex a portion of Laura Duncan Road adjacent to Laurel Park Elementary School was granted. The Town supported this request, as accidents occurring within this unannexed portion of roadway were required to be handled by the State Highway Patrol. Apex has utilities in the roadway, and the sections of Laura Duncan Road immediately north and south of this section were already in Apex’s jurisdiction. Effective June 30, Apex will have full jurisdiction over this section of roadway.
The state budget, enacted over the Governor’s veto on June 12, contains two provisions related to schools and municipalities. Municipalities are now permitted to use property tax and other unrestricted revenues to “supplement funding for elementary and secondary public education that benefits the residents of the city.” Local boards of education may request appropriations directly from the town. Funds may be directed to individual schools—located within or outside of Town limits—so long as Town residents attend the school. Public schools, including charter schools, are eligible for funding.
The second provision amends legislation passed last year that requires municipalities to reimburse K-12 schools— public, charter and private—for the cost of improvements to the municipal street system required by the municipality. The amendment states, “A city may not condition the approval of any zoning, rezoning or permit request on the waiver or reduction of” the reimbursement requirement. Further, the legislation amends longstanding zoning law and constrains Council’s discretion in rezoning cases, by precluding local zoning regulations that, “include, as a basis for denying a...rezoning request from a school, the level of service of a road facility” abutting or “proximately located” to the school.
The legislature also enacted a bill that requires each county and municipality to create a list of its ordinances that may be punishable as a misdemeanor, with a description of the conduct subject to such punishment. The Town must compile this list by December 1 and submit it to two joint legislative committees of the General Assembly.
Major Opioid Investigation
Over a year ago, the Police Department’s Drug/Vice Unit initiated a major opioid case in Cary that stretched across the United States and beyond our nation’s borders. As the year progressed, the case grew at an alarming rate and was centered on the manufacturing of illicit pills produced by unlicensed individuals using dangerous components like fentanyl. After a year of investigation, in cooperation with local, state and federal agencies, we recently began to dismantle this drug syndicate by making arrests, serving search warrants and seizing property.
This case is still ongoing as we are following leads as they develop. Yet we unquestionably put some major drug dealers out of action in this quarter, which likely saved lives by getting several illicit pill presses off the street. To date, we have arrested four individuals related to this case and seized five pill presses, six vehicles, 55,000 dosage units of illicit pills, over 50 pounds of a possible Fentanyl/Xanax type substance, $20,000 in cash and an unclear amount of crypto currency. This case dealt an enormous blow to the production and distribution of illicit pills.
Operation Medicine Drop and Pill Take Back Event
On April 28, the Police Department coordinated the biannual pill take back event in six locations around Town. In total, we collected 30 boxes with a total weight of over 719 pounds. As a point of comparison, the total weight collected from the take back event in October 2017 was 473 pounds. One of the more successful locations during April’s event was at Bond Park in conjunction with Spring Daze. As of June 27, a total of 1,170 pounds of pills have been collected, including 451 pounds from the Drop Box on Town Hall campus. We continue to collect unwanted pills daily in our pill drop box located at the Police Department on Town Hall campus. A new project will advertise the drop box location on local Harris Teeter Pharmacy bags, which we believe will increase awareness throughout our community.
Police Department Hispanic Outreach
The Police Department has recognized for years that there is a reticence on the part of a portion of our Latino community to cooperate and interact with police officers. Much of this is fueled by negative experiences with police in their home country and a concern about what an interaction might mean for their immigration status here in the United States. Knowing this, the Police Department has worked over multiple years to impact these concerns in a positive way and encourage our Latino community to see Cary officers as advocates and a source of help in their community, just as our police are in all other parts of our community. The Police Department has taken a multi-faceted approach to this. For example, we have utilized forums at area churches to discuss concerns, appearances and collaboration at Latino festivals, such as the Three Kings celebration and Ritmo Latino. We have held bicycle giveaways for Latino children through the CAP Team refurbishment program, including Latino citizens in a recent multi-agency PSA. And most recently, our sixth annual Wrenn Drive Community Event and Celebration — conducted in cooperation with area churches and Wrenn Drive area apartment communities, PRCR, Fire Department and Police Department — hosted nearly 1,000 citizens, 52 vendors and 200 volunteers on June 2. It was a great day filled with opportunities for our Latino residents to learn about the services that the Town provides and how to gain assistance in all aspects of Town government, with games for the kids and good food and fellowship throughout the day. This was our best-attended Wrenn Drive event to date, and we are already planning for next year’s celebration.
The Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Service Improvement Study Analysis is transitioning into the final phase of the project. The towns of Cary, Apex and Morrisville have been meeting with FE/Kimball to discuss modifications to the final report. The collaboration around the report and findings appears to be positive. Each of the towns seem eager to move forward with the merger to a Multi-Agency PSAP operated from the Town of Cary’s PSAP. Once the report modifications are corrected, discussion will focus on establishing an MOU between all three of the towns.
The findings in the report indicate that there were no technology roadblocks for the multi-agency PSAP to be formed. Our 911 center is adequate to meet the needs of the expansion without an additional console position. The report did indicate that four staff members will need to be added in the Cary PSAP to accommodate the call volume of the additional agencies. A decision has been made to move forward with the hiring of a portion of these additional staff members by utilizing our current approved over-hire positions within the Cary PSAP. This will allow us to have additional staffing properly trained by July 2019. More details will be provided in the coming months.
A tractor-drawn aerial (TDA), or tiller, is more than just an iconic fire truck with both a front and a back driver. It’s also the most appropriate apparatus for Cary’s changing landscape. Just as the Fire Department has migrated to smaller pumper trucks to allow for better maneuverability, it has considered aerial apparatus that can accommodate access and reach challenges for large trucks created by the Town’s development trend toward denser development. TDAs have several advantages over the aerial devices the department has deployed in the past, including a shorter turning radius, increased equipment and storage capacity, lower overall height and reduced weight.
The department’s next two replacement ladder trucks will be TDAs, which will align resources with the Cary Community Plan’s vision of development and redevelopment of mixed-use properties. These trucks will help the Fire Department continue to serve the community with quick response times and state-of-the-art operating and reach capabilities.
New Water Tanks
Four million gallons. That’s the amount of storage that will be added to our water system when the Kilmayne Drive and Good Hope Church Road Water Storage Tanks come online in the next year. But what does four million gallons look like? If you wanted to transport that much water, you would need 800 tanker trucks. If you filled grocery carts with four million gallons of milk, you better have 120,000 grocery carts ready. Finally, consider a football field with 15 feet of water over top of it; that’s four million gallons.
During the fourth quarter, both projects reached significant milestones. At the Good Hope Tank, the concrete column was completed and the concrete dome panels were put into place. While the dome panels create a roof for the column, they are really the floor of the bowl itself once it is put in place. The bowl’s assembly began with the cone portion being welded together on the ground. Work on the bowl will continue throughout the summer.
Meanwhile at the Kilmayne Drive Tank, the steel bowl was completely assembled during the fourth quarter. The outside of it was primed and hand-painted Cary’s traditional Hidden Lake Blue. On June 8, the bowl was slowly raised into place where final connections will be made and the inside coating will be applied. Following site restoration and testing, the Kilmayne Tank will be ready for service in late fall. It took six hours to raise the 250-ton steel assembly to its final position 120 feet above ground.
So how heavy is the two million gallons of water that each tank will ultimately hold? Two million gallons of water is 16.7 million pounds — the equivalent of 4,656 new Corvettes, 33,360 North Carolina Black Bears or 4,277 fire sculptures like the one at Kay Struffolino Park. Any way you look at it, the increased storage and redundancy is a win for our citizens.
Pressure Zone Modifications
The Town is implementing a series of incremental pressure zone shifts to improve long-term operational effectiveness and resiliency in the water system. On April 10, Town staff completed the third incremental phase of six planned pressure zone shifts. Upon completion, the central pressure zone boundary will extend to an area generally adjacent with Hwy 55. Approximately 6,000 properties will be restored to central pressure, which represents an increase of approximately 45-psi. The pressure zone shift completed in April was conducted within the Preston community and included 450 properties. The operation also included connecting a Cary water line to a legacy Morrisville water main to improve redundancy and water transmission in the service area. The operation was implemented smoothly with minimal customer impacts.
The next planned pressure zone shift is scheduled for September 12 and will transition approximately 1,146 properties to central pressure in the areas around West Park, Twin Lakes and Research Triangle Park. Community engagement activities have included notice letters, Nextdoor posts and free pressure testing provided by Town staff. Public meetings were held July 16 and July 17.
The remaining pressure zone shifts are planned to be completed before summer 2019.
Water Resources Supply Report
The Town continually monitors our water supply and usage, remaining vigilant to ensure high-quality, safe, affordable and reliable water service is available to meet the needs of our citizens and support continued growth.
Overall rainfall for the quarter was above normal but variable, and irrigation spiked during mid-April to mid-May when less than one inch of rain fell over three weeks. This dry spell was followed by a week with nearly five inches of rainfall. A very wet second half of May gave way to another dry period in June. Through June 28, the Town has seen about 1.8 inches of rain for the month, more than an inch less than normal.
Our base water demand is primarily residential, with summertime peaks from irrigation systems. A hot, dry early May led to a comparatively sudden increase in irrigation this year compared with prior years. In the graph of 2017– 2018 Cary water demand below, outdoor use (irrigation) is gray, and indoor use (residential and commercial) is blue. The Town’s per capita demand has declined significantly over the years, due in part to changes in irrigation patterns, but outdoor usage still drives our peak day demands.
FY 2018, Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility’s (CAWTF) finished water demand averaged 20.6 MGD. During a dry period with high irrigation demands, CAWTF produced a record 34.8 million gallons of high-quality drinking water on June 20. The peak included 6.0 MGD water demand by Apex and a transfer of 6.3 MGD to Durham. The Town sent over 380 million gallons to Durham since September 2017 while one of their treatment plants was shut down to construct improvements. With CAWTF capacity recently expanded to 56 MGD, these record demands can be readily supplied.
Open Data Policy
The Town of Cary was selected to join Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities in September 2017. One outcome of the partnership was to develop an open data policy, which we drafted collaboratively with What Works Cities and the Sunlight Foundation. This draft policy was then shared with our citizens for feedback and refined based on that feedback.
The Cary Town Council adopted the open data policy on June 14, which outlines our commitment to making data readily available. The newly-adopted policy will guide the Town in making sets of public records freely accessible at no cost to the public via its online portal.
The policy will support Cary’s Open Data Portal found at data.townofcary.org. Originally launched in 2016, the portal catalogs more than two dozen commonly requested datasets to view, map, analyze within the portal or download for off-site analysis. Datasets currently available for public consumption focus on topics like crime and safety, development, inspections and permits, recreation and winter weather preparation.
Fire/IT - Laptop Deployment Project
The IT Department is challenged with delivering 500+ new laptops to employees and was in need for additional staff resources to make this project a success. Chief Ranes and Chief Cooper of the Fire Department asked their staff for volunteers willing to work with the IT Department, and eight capable and willing staff answered.
In June, the Information Technology Service Delivery team held a two-day boot camp with the eight volunteers from the Fire Department. The boot camp consisted of training on terminology, intake process, imaging and decommission of Town devices. The teams received hands-on training with the Service Delivery team. Laptops were imaged with IT’s customized operating system and new workstations were set up. This has proven to be both a challenging and rewarding opportunity for both departments.
Smart Cities council Readiness Workshop
In March of 2018, the Smart Cities Council (SCC) announced that Cary was a recipient of a 2018 Readiness Challenge Grant. As a recipient, Cary is receiving international recognition of our smart city efforts, a customized roadmap, as well as tailored products and services to accelerate our smart city initiatives.
The SCC facilitated Cary’s Smart Cities Readiness Workshop on June 8, which was hosted by SAS at their Executive Briefing Center. The workshop explored Cary’s overall smart and connected community vision, public-private partnerships, healthy communities, data management infrastructure and transportation options that integrate new technology. Over 100 municipal officials, department heads, technology innovators, local business leaders, non-profits, university representatives and community influencers participated. Mayor Weinbrecht and Council Members Bush and Robinson attended. Staff members David Spencer, Kelly Blazey, Donald Smith, Paul Campbell, Sandal Abid and Terry Yates gave presentations illustrating Cary’s smart and connected community vision.
Roadmap development by the SCC and our Smart Cities Steering Committee is currently underway using information from the workshop, Imagine Cary Community Plan and our smart city efforts to date. The roadmap will present existing and planned smart city initiatives in a sharable and collaborative visual format. This living document can be refined as new technology is introduced. It uses the SCC’s framework to map smart city initiatives to Cary’s responsibility areas—transportation, public health, etc.—and to technology and governance enablers to identify intersection and opportunities across initiatives. This framework will be used to inventory initiative data sources. It will create a mechanism to prioritize future initiatives by establishing a set of smart city project criteria against which initiatives are rated. It will identify targets, actions, teams and timelines for priority initiatives. The draft roadmap is targeted for completion this summer. Additional grant products and services will be implemented during 2018.
Additional grant and workshop information can be found at https://smartcitiescouncil.com/readiness-cities-cary.