Last year in Cary was a year of change, and 2016 is expected to bring even more, Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said during his annual state of the town address.
Weinbrecht spoke Wednesday, Jan. 27, to a room full of business professionals and leaders at Prestonwood Country Club, highlighting the town’s biggest achievements in 2015 and those yet to come.
A new year brought new jobs to Cary, he said. More than 500 jobs were added to the local economy in 2015, and several companies, including Align Technologies, Deutsche Bank, Biologics, CBC Groups and Proto Labs, announced even more job additions.
“Cary is no longer a bedroom community where people live, but go somewhere else to work,” Weinbrecht said. “Today, more people are coming into town than driving out of town, so that’s a big change in the last few years.”
As Cary begins to see fewer cases of greenfield development and more cases of infill development and redevelopment, the town has completed some downtown revitalization projects of its own, from the Cary Arts Center and The Cary theater.
“Our downtown has already experienced some areas of redevelopment and infill,” he said. “It is being transformed from areas of older and deteriorated properties to new and exciting destination points.”
The town also has made some changes to the services it provides residents. The town opened a new fire station on East Chatham Street, which will reduce emergency response times in downtown, and accreditation of the town’s fire department moved Cary from a Class 3 insurance rating to a Class 1.
“What it means to you business leaders is with the classification going from a 3 to a 1, 33 percent of you are going to see lower tax insurance premiums.” he said.
Cary’s town manager and police chief retired in 2015, and the clerk just took a new job. The town is searching for a new town manager and town clerk, and former Deputy Police Chief Tony Godwin was selected as the new police chief.
In 2016, Cary residents should anticipate even more change in the form of more downtown development, parks and other facilities opening, as well as a new town website that will launch this year.
Carpenter Park, Jack Smith Park and phase one of Downtown Park are underway and will open this year. Phase 2 of Mills Community Park will be designed and completed by summer 2017, and the design of the White Oak Creek Greenway will be completed and is expected to open winter 2017.
“What that means is you will be able to go from North Raleigh through Cary to the American Tobacco Trail through Durham to North Durham,” Weinbrecht said.
In downtown, the streetscape projects will be completed, as well as non-town projects, including Midtown Square on East Chatham Street, which will feature Class A office space, Bond Brothers Beer Company and more.
“I think Chatham will become our new main street,” he said.
But the town will still have some issues to keep an eye on, particularly legislative issues and growth-related issues.
At the state level, the North Carolina General Assembly is considering a change to the sales tax redistribution method.
“Why is that a big deal?” Weinbrecht said. “That’s 20 percent of our revenue. You cut 20 percent of our revenue, what does that mean? We have to cut services, raise taxes or both.”’
Inside the town limits, the town officials will continue working with the Wake County Board of Commissioners and N.C. Department of Transportation on school and transportation needs related to continuous growth.
“That’s the key when you are working with other government entities, to partner and work together,” Weinbrecht said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon