It was a very busy evening on Tuesday but as always, a productive meeting.
The evening began with presentations, with the Year of Community poster winners being awarded. Always a pleasure to see these young, talented children involved in this contest and it makes me proud.
Staff was also recognized by receiving the NC Planning Award for the McCrimmon Transit Small Area Plan. Congrats to Ben and the Planning team on this one.
Carlotta provided a very comprehensive economic development report to Council, with the main highlights being tremendous increase in economic development activity.
Project Cutting Edge is an R&D company, leading to 200 projected jobs, and $27 million investmen. Other economic growth opportunities include a medical device company looking at Morrisville to create 125 jobs and invest $10 million and of course, we have a larger 500 job opportunity with a new publishing company. All and all, the economic development investment we are making is paying off, and I am also excited on the continued success of the entrepreneurial companies, growing through the Hotties program.
Fire Station: We are slated to vote on the Lease of Firestation 1, with the two prospects being Bridge Community Church and Maestro Productions. There will be maintenance costs incurred by the Town but I am supporting us moving forward with the lease agreement, with my preference being the Church offices.
Hotel/Motel Tax Opportunities: Council is very excited about the Hotel/Motel Tax projects, including expansion to the RTP Park, Cedar Fork District Park and now, we were briefed on the Private Athletics facility. Each project proposed could bring in up to $3 million of hotel tax money so all of us are very excited about this project.
The proposed facility would be run by Jeff Ammons, who runs the Factory in Wake Forest. The facility would involve an ice rink, volleyball and soccer fields, and would eventually serve as an IMG type training facility or sports academy in the Triangle. 15 to 20 acres would be needed and the best place to develop would be near the RTP Park. Hill Carrow, who is advising us on this endeavor, suggests that this project will give us the best chance of winning the Hotel Tax Grant money.
Council recommended that staff narrow down the projects for consideration to the Private athletic complex and the expansion of RTP Park.
Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding
Council had another very productive discussion on the Blue Ribbon Transportation Task Force, which I fully support, on the condition that we complete our due diligence on the make up of the Task Force members and are open to Task Force members from outside our jurisdiction as the members need to have extensive transportation funding experience.
This Task Force would be comprised of 11 members, and would meet for a nine month period, with the sole purpose being to provide a transportation funding report to Council. I would like us to also consider providing this report to our Legislative Delegation as well and I cannot see a more important issue facing our Town that transportation/infrastructure.
RTP Park Contract
The evening ended with Council agreeing to vote at the next meeting on awarding the RTP Park Contract, at $3.2 million. The project is $900,000 over budget but we are committed to this project and we will also be able to move forward with Northwest Park with over $1.1 million of PIL funds available over the next nine months.
We are able to get $192,000 moved back into the NW Park project as staff was forced to pull money out of the Park Projects to fund RTP Park but I think it was the right thing to do to show the NW Park advocates that we are committed to this project.
Cedar Fork Elementary Request
Council considered a request from Cedar Fork Elementary to provide the resident rate for non resident teachers, who are enrolling their children in pre school and after school programs at Cedar Fork Community Center. Teachers have been dealt some serious blows this year with recent cuts from the General Assembly in graduate education, lower teacher pay and cuts to classroom funding and technology.
Staff has already extended the offer of a 25% discount from the non resident rate for Cedar Fork Teachers.
The Principal from Cedar Fork, Kathy Marnyak, has even suggested that the resident rate would save over $1000.00 per year for the teachers if we move grant the resident rate.
Mayor Holcombe, Steve Diehl and I agreed that it would be the right thing to do to offer the teachers the resident rate in an effort to show the teachers that Morrisville values their efforts and also that we want to retain and recruit the best teachers in the state and region. Council voted to go with staff reccomendation but we did try our best on this issue.