I Respectfully Ask for Your Vote
— These Are the Reasons Why —

"Planting trees, I myself thought for a long time, was a feel-good thing, a nice but feeble response to our litany of modern-day environmental problems. In the last few years, though, as I have read many dozens of articles and books and interviewed scientists here and abroad, my thinking on the issue has changed. Planting trees may be the single most important ecotechnology that we have to put the broken pieces of our planet back together."
     ~ Jim Robbins, The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet.

Information about George is found here. The magnificent tree is the centerpiece of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham.

I decided to stand for election to the Council within minutes of reading this paragraph in Mr. Robbins' great book. Robbins is a science writer whose pieces are published in The New York Times, in e360 , and in Condé Nast Traveler. He is decidedly NOT a soft-headed tree-hugger. [See his article, " The Dilbit Hits the Fan," and form your own conclusion on his politics.] His matter-of-fact characterization of the earth as in broken pieces, and the suggestion that trees are the most important element in fixing it, strongly suggest that an average citizen can affect the future of our species on the planet. Hence my candidacy.

"What an irony it is that these living beings whose shade we sit in, whose fruit we eat, whose limbs we climb, whose roots we water, to whom most of us rarely give a second thought, are so poorly understood. We need to come, as soon as possible, to a profound understanding and appreciation for trees and forests and the vital role they play, for they are among our best allies in the uncertain future that is unfolding.”
     ~ Jim Robbins, ibid.

A large percentage of the Town of Cary's human-planted and maintained trees are in deplorable condition. On Chatham Street between Harrison and Walker, the main east-west road through city center, 95% of the trees on both sides of the street are dying because much of the ground surrounding the tree trunks has been paved or bricked over. Five of the dying trees have already been marked with pink ribbons, presumably meaning they are slated to be cut down.

This is a section of a 24-mile long roadway in Damyang, South Korea. Its full length is covered by tree canopy. It is called "The Most Beautiful Roadway in the World." [pls. click to enlarge.] Could the Town of Cary have roadways equally as beautiful? – George McDowell for Town of Cary Council!

Trees in the medians of Cary Parkway have been dying at an alarming rate. Those that have survived have grown little in the last 10 years, and few are healthy. The practice seems to be that when a tree dies, it is replaced with a crape myrtle. A crape myrtle is indeed a beautiful tree, but it should be used as filler among trees that will grow tall and live long. Crape myrtles sometimes have beautiful flowers that benefit bees and butterflies, but the species provides little in the way of noise attenuation, pollution absorption, stormwater collection, carbon storage, oxygen production, or psychological calming, and does not add to what should be the beautiful and impressive nature of one of the Town of Cary' signature roadways.

Trees in most [yes, – most] commercial parking lots throughout Cary are desiccated, mis-shapen, stunted, and dying. There seems to be NO official movement, or even inclination, to reverse the process. Generally, the thinking seems to be that the Town has no jurisdiction over the trees and the islands in which they are planted because they are on private property. I respectfully but strongly disagree. The Charter of the Town of Cary specifically and forcefully grants Council the authority:

"[i]n order to protect and preserve one of the most valuable natural resources of the community and to protect the safety and welfare of it citizens, the Town of Cary may adopt ordinances to regulate the planting, removal, and preservation of trees and shrubs on public and private property within the Town." [Emphasis mine.]

I'll address this much more fully later in the campaign. For now, it's enough to say that, if there were healthy and beautiful trees in parking lots, which lots cover much acreage within the Town, would greatly benefit Cary citizens [for these reasons] as well as those businesses within the shopping centers and the owners and managers of the centers.

(Pls. click the arrows in the lower right corner to watch full-screen.) These are images of downtown areas in other cities and towns, and are presented to raise the question of why we in Cary must live with desiccated and dying trees in our own downtown area. [The answer is – We don't! – George McDowell for Town of Cary Council!]

The consultant that designed the Academy Street renovation and Downtown Park made errors. I'll discuss those errors at length later in the campaign. This presents a twofold problem. These design errors in the completed construction must be rectified and the Town should learn from the mistakes. As the Town moves toward an expansion of Downtown Park, it manifests an intention to hire another consultant for that design.

See the expression of the Town of Cary Council's apparent giddiness over its evaluation of the finished park and its intent to proceed with the expansion of the park by retaining another consulting firm, detailed in Councilmember Don Frantz's blog post of May 5, 2017.

This decision should be reconsidered!

I believe that the park expansion could and should be designed by a committee of Town employees and Cary citizens, and that the resulting design will be better — much better ! — than the Academy Street and park design. The design, once completed without the high cost of the consultant, can then be turned over to a landscape architect [who will then turn it over to a draughtsman] for construction plans to be generated.

We will publish an in-depth look at various problems around Town each week leading up to the election. Previous discussions are archived here. For any reason, please write to me at George@BeautifyCary.org.

Thank you!

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Objective #1

That the Town of Cary establish an office whose head reports directly to the Town Manager, dedicated solely to addressing environmental issues. The office will consist of two parts. One part will be a Skunk Works, a group given a high degree of autonomy and charged with devising ways that the Town can move rapidly towards sustainability. The second will be an inspection unit charged with ensuring compliance with sustainability measures undertaken by the Town.

Objective #2

That the Town of Cary establish within its limits a combination botanical garden, arboretum, and tree nursery.

Objective #3

That within the next decade, the Town of Cary properly plant one million additional trees within its borders and nurture them correctly.

Objective #4

That the Town of Cary adopt a long-lived and beautiful noble hardwood tree as its Official Tree.

Objective #5

That the Town of Cary re-start the now-defunct Wake County Champion and Notable Tree List, and that it be administered by volunteers using a donated program and server space.