Roads vs. streets? Cary fine-tunes its goals

aspecht@newsobserver.comJanuary 23, 2014 

— Town leaders want to promote a hometown environment, rather than a family-oriented community.

They aim to ensure access to public transportation, not public transit.

And they hope to invest in sustainable streets, not roadways.

During its annual planning retreat last weekend, the Cary Town Council tweaked the town’s goals, changing word choices here and there.

The changes weren’t major – some might not see a big difference between roads and streets – but the goals help shape town policy and budget decisions.

The town has six main goals. It wants:

• An attractive, well-planned and livable community

• Economic vitality and development

• Effective transportation and mobility

• Quality recreational, leisure and cultural opportunities

• Reliable, sustainable infrastructure

• A safe community.

In 2012, Cary leaders crafted a series of statements that describe how they’d like to reach each goal.

During last weekend’s retreat, Town Council members spent part of an afternoon reading and suggesting improvements to the statements.

Most of the changes didn’t necessarily reflect a shift in ideology so much as a clarification of meaning.

For example, council members opted to change the word “transit” to “transportation” in one of the statements because they said some residents might misinterpret the word “transit.”

“They might infer that we mean rail, when mean transportation ... walking, driving, taking the bus and maybe rail. All of it,” Councilwoman Gale Adcock said.

The statement now says Cary “partners to promote and ensure local and regional access to reliable, affordable and convenient public transportation options.”

Council members changed “family-oriented community” to “home town environment” in another statement to seem more welcoming to single people and senior citizens.

The statement now says Cary “promotes itself as a safe, attractive, home town environment, offering quality housing choices and a variety of activities and amenities that offer a premier quality of life to a broad spectrum of people.”

Meanwhile, most references to “roads” and “roadways” were changed to “streets” on a recommendation by Susan Moran, Cary’s public information director.

“It sounds friendlier,” she said.

The editing exercise came on the second day of Cary’s two-day retreat in Winston-Salem, which featured broad discussions about branding, improving media relations and civic engagement.

Council members said they appreciated the time away to step back and review the direction of the town. Cary spent about $16,000 for the retreat.

The goal statements gave town staff a better understanding of the council’s goals, Town Manager Ben Shivar said.

“They serve as something of a guide,” he said. “In previous years, it was more of a general connection.”

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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