TOWN OF CARY DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT


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 2017 2019 2022, 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.


A Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) in Milan. See table below.


There were four days in June when 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 418 ppm of carbon] in the atmosphere. And this in a town that has no heavy industry, no manufacturing or generating plants that stream noxious smoke out of their chimneys, and only one mining operation [nearby]. 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 and thus the quality of life of its citizens.



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].

[I understand the argument that Durham and Raleigh also contribute to the horrendous quality of the water in Lake Crabtree. However, if the water is ever to be improved, some Town must be the first to begin that improvement. Cary often deems itself a leader. Here is a chance to lead.]

We were told by Cary authorities that there are no Town ordinances that prevent this [ongoing, as of January March June 2019 December 2021] situation, and that what is shown in the video is not illegal. 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 three-hour period.

A retention pit is used to reduce the "peak" runoff rate to an amount that meets an arbitrary (and esentially meaningless) 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.

AIR TREES — The structures, made from recycled materials and plants, mimic greenhouse systems for lowering the temperature by up to 10 degrees. Can be used in places where old architecture cooks the surrounding environment. Designed by young architects at Urban Ecosystem Studio in Madrid.

SINGAPORE — is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. When it became independent in 1965, it was a city filled with slums, choked with congestion, and whose rivers were open sewers. Since independence, the city has become a clean, modern metropolis with a diversified economy and reliable infrastructure. It is well on its way to achieving its goal of becoming the greenest city on earth. It has done so through government requirements that every project undertaken be planned and completed with the environment as the primary concern.

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.

SOLAR-POWERED FARMERS MARKET — Albuquerque, New Mexico powers its downtown Farmers Market and its Rail Yards Market entirely by solar power.

ENERGY POSITIVE BUILDINGS — that is, buildings that produce more energy than was expended in acquiring, preparing, and delivering the materials of which they are made, and which, after construction, produce all the energy needed to operate the building AND deliver excess electricity back to the grid. See, for example, the Powerhouse Brattørkaia, in Norway.

BIOCERAMIC DOMES USED AS AFFORDABLE HOUSING — Bioceramic domes merge geodesic geometry with crystal chemistry. Affordability, sustainability, resilience, and healing can finally come together. See the company that builds them.

CITICAPE HOUSE — a hospitality-led, mixed-use proposal, is characterised by the largest green wall in Europe (40,000ft²), creating a distinctive architectural addition to a gateway City of London site, while absorbing eight tonnes of pollution annually and setting the standard for urban greening in London.

The 382-key five-star hotel proposes 40,000ft2 of workspace, a sky-bar on the tenth floor, meeting and events space, spa and ground level restaurant and co-working space. Situated on a prominent site on Holborn Viaduct at the gateway of what will be the City’s “Culture Mile,” the building would create an opportunity to broadcast fresh ideas about how the built environment can address pertinent issues such as air quality, climate change and air pollution.

BOSCO VERTICALE — Designed by Boeri Studio, the Vertical Forest is a model for a sustainable residential building, a project for metropolitan reforestation contributing to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory. It is a model of vertical densification of nature within the city that operates in relation to policies for reforestation and naturalization of large urban and metropolitan borders.

Developed by Hines, the first example of the Vertical Forest consisting of two residential towers of 110 and 76 m height was realized in the centre of Milan, on the edge of the Isola neighborhood, hosting 800 trees (each measuring 3, 6 or 9 meters), 4,500 shrubs, and 15,000 plants from a wide range of shrubs and floral plants distributed according to the sun exposure of the facade. All of the plant species were carefully selected by agronomists Laura Gatti and Emanuela Borio.