WHY NOT, INDEED?

The examples shown below are but a few of the hundreds if not thousands of opportunities the Town has to accomplish huge increases in citizens' quality of life while at the same time achieving a myriad of tangible and intangible environmental benefits.

No one in his or her right mind would object to a beautiful downtown, beautiful medians, beautiful commercial parking lots, or beautiful vistas – nor would this right-minded person object to the tremendous social, economic, and environmental benefits gained by creating them.

These goals can indeed be achieved! It requires only a citizen/voter demand that they be instituted.

What is needed to achieve these worthwhile and critical goals is a Town Council member who will stridently yet respectfully be an advocate for them.

I volunteer for this role.

On the left are images portraying what our land looks like now. On the right are Photoshopped images showing how the landscapes could look in the future with municipal will and care.

WHY ? WHY NOT ?

This is the bank at city center, the intersection of Chatham and Academy Streets. We have been monitoring these trees since 2008, and through historical photographs for about ten years behind that. We've concluded they are on a seven-year cycle – a group of trees is planted incorrectly and nurtured improperly. Of course that group dies within seven years. A new group is similarly planted – and that group then dies within seven years. Of the original seven trees planted in this current group, four have died already and three hang on dearly to life. Unfortunately but predictably, their days are numbered. [UPDATE: The fifth tree died in October, 2018. {To see why it died, look at where its trunk emerges from the sidewalk.} Two trees remain. They will die this year, or maybe next. Then our tax dollars will fund planting seven more, and those too will die, perhaps in 2026 or 2027.]

The previous bank building [above], built in the Prison / Fortress style of architecture, was razed and replaced by the present beautiful new structure. Unfortunately, the healthy trees were taken out during construction, and when new trees were planted after construction was complete, nobody cared for them. [See above, left.] The clock, donated by the Rotary Clubs of Cary, is well cared for by the Town.

Our goal here is to bring responsibility for these and other downtown trees – trees that give a city center its character, vitality, and life – to the Cary Department of the Environment so that this costly and absurd cycle can be broken, and an agency with a specifically-delineated long-term mission can superintend the plantings and nurture. [Please see the time-lapse video. {Add two to the years shown in the video – I wasn't elected in the last election two years ago, and therefore nothing has changed since then on this street.}]

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WHY ? WHY NOT ?

This is the Black Creek Greenway at the Old Reedy Creek Road Trailhead. The land is actually the dam, built in 1954, that created Lake Crabtree, seen on the right. Hikers and cyclists on the greenway travel 2,000 feet along a barren stretch before reaching cooling shade.

Just to the northeast of this area is I-40, on which vehicles traveling between 60 and 80 mph emit exhaust from engines operating well above their most efficient speeds. To the northwest is the takeoff path for Runway 23R and the landing path for Runway 5L at RDU. Aircraft at full power for takeoff, and at very low power for landing, are also at their least efficient, and emit tremedous amounts of pollutants. The area around the dam and lake [as well as the hundreds and hundreds of barren acres immediately surrounding the airport] should be planted with millions of trees. Better that the trees absorb the pollution and cleanse the air – the alternative cleansing mechanisms are human lungs.

WHY ? WHY NOT ?

Above is a stretch of Cary Speedway Parkway facing north from near Olde Weatherstone Way toward James Jackson Ave. The 3,000 feet of median has not one tree planted in it. We see this as a real-life element of Cary citizens' quality of life. There is nothing to calm the nerves of aggressive drivers; never will there be beautiful spring greenery or magnificent fall color; never will there be shade generated by trees to shade and cool the heat island generated by the long stretch of macadam; nothing to absorb stormwater; nothing to absorb the vehicles' exhaust and convert it back to pure oxygen; nothing to muffle and baffle the road-noise generated by speeding cars and trucks; and nothing to soothe the minds and please the eyes of drivers and pedestrians.

I sometimes wonder how a good novelist or poet would describe this roadway – and cringe.

Below is a stretch of Cary Parkway from Old Apex Road to Lake Pine Drive. In 2007 there were 108 trees growing in the median. In 2017 there were 58. The rest had died because they were improperly planted in the first place, and were incorrectly nurtured throughout their human-shortened lives.

You may think it quaint or old fashioned – in this advanced technological age – that one would pay attention to such minor details.

Guilty as charged. It is what is needed to grow trees properly. There are no shortcuts, and every deviation from proper methods results in early deaths of trees and no benefits gained from them during their shortened lives.

It gets worse – In 2018 a landscaper identified 11 more trees that were in advanced stages of distress because of their maltreatment, and that had to be taken down. Watch the video below to spot the orange tape around the doomed trees! In 12 years, 61 trees have been killed, and the tree population of this one-mile stretch of the median has declined 57%.

Declined 57%.



WHY ? WHY NOT ?

Above is the beautifully renovated Cary Arts Center, the former Cary Academy/Cary High School building. It sits on land that is the highest elevation within Town limits. It is both the symbolic and actual location where Cary's stormwater-runoff problems begin.

The four crape myrtle trees [planted in concrete containers] in front of it will live only one generation, will never reach any significant height, and will absorb only a minimal amount of rainfall and no stormwater that falls on the bricked pavement.

WHY ? WHY NOT ?

Above and below are images of a typical shopping-center parking lot in Cary. The trees are on the typical seven-year cycle – they are incorrectly planted and improperly nurtured. They struggle to thrive and grow – without success. Finally the current property manager realizes they have become eyesores, and orders new trees planted. And another seven-year cycle begins anew.

One of the reasons I suggest a Cary Department of the Environment is so it can educate owners, developers, property managers, and landscape firms on the proper selection, inspection, planting, and nurture of trees. If this lot were to have originally planted trees properly, large trees would grace the lot; shoppers' cars would not heat to 150 degrees during Cary's six months of summer days; heating and cooling costs of the buildings would decrease; less fuel would be consumed to heat and cool them; and a much greater percentage of rainfall would be absorbed by the trees, contributing to the battle [which the Town is currently losing] against stormwater runoff.

In addition, this page has a long list of financial benefits to merchants whose properties are located in tree-rich areas.

WHY ? WHY NOT ?
   CARY RESIDENTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO PARK IN THESE CONDITIONS   
WHY ? WHY NOT ?

Above is another median. On the left image, a few trees – improperly planted and incorrectly nurtured – are shown. These trees will never grow anywhere near their potential. I wonder, sometimes, why we plant them? And why we live in the vain hope that similarly-planted trees will also thrive? See the video above. The same slow die-off is occuring everywhere in Cary [except for stretches of Weston Parkway, which can serve as an example of the way ALL Cary medians should look]. I stand for election to reverse the process.

This is the street-facing wall of Cary VFW Post 7383 on Reedy Creek Road. In 2017 we planted a tree that will grow as pictured in the right-hand image. It flourishes. In 2019 we will plant another. In several years they will be distinctive community landmarks, beautiful the whole year round and especially beautiful in autumn when their leaves turn a spectacularly brilliant bronze/gold/copper color before they fall. They will shade the VFW's Independence Hall, reducing the Hall's carbon footprint and saving the Post money on air-conditioning costs. In winter, the trees' branches will burble the cold walls of blowing wind, raising the wind-chill index of the building, likewise reducing energy use and saving the cost of heating. The trees will provide homes for birds and their reproductive fruit will provide food for butterflies and bees and all manner of beneficial insects. As they grow they will sequester more and more carbon each year from the air — and they are fast growers! As they grow they will absorb more and more rainwater, preventing it from becoming stormwater runoff as well as using the water to convert massive amounts of car and truck exhaust into pure oxgen, and all the while releasing a mist of water vapor into the air as well as many beneficial chemicals which scientists are only beginning to describe. And the human population is growing rapidly, and with more people come more cars and trucks.

The benefits gained here are the result of actually putting trees into the ground — properly — and not yapping mindlessly and incessantly about some nebuluous commitment to "sustainability."










George McDowell
Cary, North Carolina

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Contact:

919-376-7822
{For any reason, call
between noon and 10:00 pm.}


George@BeautifyCary.org