In 2013, Cary re-structured its departmental organization. Two of the largest departments were divided into four smaller ones. The Engineering Department was eliminated and replaced by the Transportation and Facilities Department and the Water Resources Department. The Public Works & Utilities Department was split into two separate departments. Two new Assistant Town Manager positions and a Deputy Town Manager position were created. It was the largest re-structuring undertaken by the Town in 20 years.
The Town is now faced, during this election of 2019, with the question: Are we in our small jurisdiction going to attempt to halt the degradation of our environment? More specifically the question is: Are we going to shift our efforts from what we are doing now – slowing the rate of continued degradation – to reversing that degradation. If your answer is NO, then I am not the candidate for whom you should vote.
If, however, the answer is YES, we are indeed going to reverse the degradation, then the full power of the Town's Executive Branch must be focused and armed to deal with the various causes of that degradation. The way to begin the offensive is to unite the various sustainability and remediation initiatives now operating with the town's bureaucratic framework in one department, frame and refine its mission, and invest it with the authority to accomplish that mission. This is why I propose that Cary create its own Department of the Environment.
There were four days in June of 2018 where the Air Quality Index in Cary was in the Orange Zone. I don't recall [although I haven't watched carefully] if Cary has ever had even one day before these with a pollution level so high. This zone means that there are at least 150 parts per million of pollutants [in addition to the 410 ppm of carbon] in the atmosphere. And this in a town that has no heavy industry, no mining operations, no manufacturing or generating plants that stream noxious smoke up and out of their chimneys. Almost certainly the cause of the extremely high concentration of pollutants is exhaust from the ever-increasing number of vehicles.
With development moving apace, the number of days with dangerous air will increase, and will subsequently increase each year. An AQI in the Orange Zone means that "active adults . . . should limit outdoor activity." Active adults! It is this problem that requires a strong and focused Department of the Environment to work toward improving the quality of the Town's air.
The liquid substance in Lake Crabtree looks more like chocolate milk than H2O. That is caused by soil erosion and stormwater runoff. Below is but a single example of runoff and erosion coming directly from a Cary townhouse development onto an adjacent shopping center's parking lot, then directly into a storm drain that will channel it into Lake Crabtree [and then on to our fellow citizens Down East]. The development plan was approved by the Town of Cary Council.
We were told by Cary authorities that there are no Town ordinances that prevent this [ongoing, as of
January March June 2019] situation, and that what is shown in the video is perfectly legal. A Cary Department of the Environment could – at the very least – work with the developer and landscaper to institute better grading and sloping practices and suggest the proper planting of trees and bushes that will absorb some of the rainfall. Note that it is not raining at all during the video. The water is being pumped out of the development's retention pit long after a rainstorm that "dumped" 1.25 inches of rain in a 90-minute period.
A retention pit is used to reduce the "peak" runoff rate to an amount that meets an arbitrary requirement. It does nothing to reduce the total amount of water that runs off from the development, nor does it [or any other current ordinance, statutue, or law] do anything to prevent the soil from eroding into our drain pipes, lakes, and rivers. This is a problem that must be addressed, and the best organization to do it would be the Cary Department of the Environment, if for no other reason than no other organization or person is now working on the problem.
Examples of projects that can be studied and recommended for adoption [This is a work in progress, but I publish it anyway, in order to spark conversation on the point. If you have a suggestion you believe a Cary Department of the Environment should consider, and that would benefit the Town, please send it and I'll publish it here.]
|"DAYLIGHT" CARY'S STREAMS AND STORM DRAINS — A process to improve the health of rivers and streams that has yielded fantastic environmental, social, and aesthetic benefits for the city of Seoul, Korea. Yonkers, New York is beginning a similar program. Read about it here.||SOLAR-COLLECTING GREENWAY PATHS — In the Netherlands, the Dutch cover unshaded greenway and bike paths with silicon solar cells and cover them with a 0.4-inch thick coating which is highly transparent but does not compromise traction. The energy generated powers street lamps, traffic lights, and street cameras. Read about it here.|
|SOLAR-POWERED FARMERS MARKET — Albuquerque, New Mexico powers its downtown Farmers Market and its Rail Yards Market entirely by solar power. Read about it here.||STATE-OF-THE-ART MIXED-USE AREA — Hamburg, Germany has re-purposed an abandoned area near its waterfront to be what it calls a Creative-Industrial Environment. It is a mixed use of entertainment and business, is walkable from public transportation and easily biked to. Phase II includes a high-rise office building, hotel, restaurant, and retail spaces. The idea is to convert it to a destination spot along the Elbe River. Read about it here.|
|STORMWATER RUNOFF PREVENTION AND CAPTURE PROJECTS — Construction and renovation of green roof areas; conversion of impermeable surfaces to permeable; building curbside swales to capture and process street and sidewalk runoff; and construction of rain gardens on the fringes of parking lots. These are projects currently undertaken by New York City. Read about them here.||F|