Candidate Mike Cole Stumps Resident, Town, and Us

Always willing to take the blunt end of the stupid stick we have an open policy for readers to ask us questions here. The reference to the stupid stick is directed entirely at us at Wake Forest News.

Typically when a question comes in our general reaction is, “damn, don’t know again,” and off we go to pester someone for an answer. We don’t even know why we even bother to think we might know the answer.

Today we received a question about Mike Cole who is running for Wake Forest Town Commissioner. We are not sure if this was part of the trick-or-treat festivities last night but a chance encounter with Cole on a dark street drew the following head scratcher for us.

I am so glad to have found your “news” site! I loved your article on our local candidates for mayor, and was wondering if you have spoken to the town board candidates. My curiosity was peaked during a trick-or-treating encounter last night.

Yesterday while trick-or-treating I met and spoke with Mike Cole. He was very courteous and even offered to push my stroller.

Hopefully not a euphemism for anything. "Hey babe, can I push your stroller?"
Hopefully asking to push your stroller is not a euphemism for anything. “Hey babe, can I push your stroller?” Wink.

[Cole] mentioned to my husband and I that he was running because the town has been “spending money without thinking about it first”.

I personally hadn’t been aware of any spending I’d consider frivolous, and found the town to be quite frugal in my time. Of course I wanted to know if our elected officials had started throwing money around, so I requested examples from Mr. Cole.

Mike Cole gave two examples. The first was that the town was spending $400,000 for the design plans for a small section of greenway running behind Tyler Run up to Durham Road. I did mention that greenway backs to my property and had been in the plans for over 10 years, and I support it. However, Mr. Cole stated it was only to draw up blueprint plans. I do agree $400K to draw up some plans without building anything does sound excessive. Is it possible to get more information on this issue?

The second example was that the Town Board commissioned 3 pieces of art for the downtown revitalization costing $100,000 total. However, he stated the bill for the art came in at $135,000, and the town paid the additional cost without question.

Could you get any information on his two examples? Like…stat…since the election is Tuesday???

LOVE your site…your article on our WFPD SWAT mobile had me laughing aloud several times. 🙂” Yea, we included that last line as a gratuitous pat on our own back.

Three or four hours ago we reached out to Mike Cole though his ElectMikeCole Facebook page.

Commission ColeCole is already one leg up in our book because unlike Bill Randall, Cole at least knows how to correctly spell the name of the Town.

Hunting Down Answers

We’ve got to say, while the Town has received some criticism they have not been responsive to addressing resident questions or forthcoming with information, they have been amazing to deal with from our point of view.

While we sat and waited for Cole to contact us we went to the Town for a response. Here is what they offered.

“Your inquiry has created a bit of confusion as town staff is not at all sure where these numbers are coming from.

In regard to the first example, Planning Director Chip Russell says the town is not designing anything behind Tyler Run. He says there may be something in the future but nothing for now, so we’re not sure where the $400,000 figure originated.

Mike Cole may be referring to one of the projects presented at the BOC retreat in September. The design work for the Durham Road Pedestrian Improvements (sidewalks, multi-use paths, and signal upgrades) project is estimated at $415,000. This work is not underway, we just submitted a LAPP grant application yesterday to get that project funded. If we get that grant, our portion of the project would be 20% or $83,000.

This is the only picture we could find of one of those art projects in our library and it's raining so that's all you're going to get for now.
This is the only picture we could find of one of those art projects in our library and it’s raining out at the moment so that’s all you’re going to get for now.
As for the downtown public art, the board of commissioners recently commissioned the first two pieces of town-funded public art – the Rain Gate bench, located in the parking lot of the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Leaf Shade Bench, located in Jones Plaza at the intersection of South White Street and East Jones Avenue. The total cost for the project was $43,000 and was budgeted in accordance with the town’s Public Art Ordinance. For complete information concerning the ordinance, please see the attached document from 2010.

I hope this helps clear up any confusion.”

As far as clearing up confusion, that remains to be seen. We are a poor judge of that goal being accomplished because we exist in a constant state of confusion.

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  1. Update: Hours ago we heard from Mike Cole and directed him to this story and asked him to post any answer/update he might have in the comment section here. If you want to be notified of any response he posts, you can subscribe to the comments below. Look for the ‘Subscribe’ link above the dark bottom part of the site.

  2. Hello again. As I mentioned to you last evening, I was picking my children up from school and driving them to various stores to get supplies for, and then taking them to, a costume party and was not able to reply quickly. I did in fact push the stroller in question, but only to help out. While many of us parents were walking the street while our children took candy from strangers, I noticed the mother in question holding her child while also wrestling with the stroller. It only seemed polite to help out. If “hey babe, can I push your stroller?” becomes the next great pickup line, I’ll let you take the credit. We were talking about politics while walking: some local,some national. Let me start by saying that I have moved to Wake Forest in 1981 and I really love this town. I have been taking a closer look at some of the issues that the town has been dealing with since I decided to run for a commissioner’s seat. I have enjoyed watching Frank Drake ask important, necessary questions at meetings for years, so when I found out that he was not running again, I put my name in the hat. I tried to find the information about the art project, but I don’t have it on paper anywhere that I can find. I do have information from the commissioner’s retreat which I have been discussing with people, specifically two projects that concern me. The first is the design for the multi-use path from Tyler Run to the Waffle House on Durham rd. That pathway has been needed there for years. I am simply surprised by the $399,000 price tag (these are numbers given out at the retreat, they seem to have been raised since then). While the cost for Wake Forest is estimated to be between $79,800 and $119,700 depending on the NCDOT’s portion, the total cost for this design seems really high to me and everyone I have talked to. The other project I have been questioning even more is the proposed work near Joyner Park. Changing the 4-way stop to a traffic circle seems like a minor change in traffic flow and more of an aesthetic change. The project also includes adding multi-use trail from that intersection up the hill along Harris road to the main park entrance. It was explained during the meeting that the 6′ asphalt multi-use path is a much cheaper option for creating pedestrian traffic lanes than concrete. That is about a quarter of a mile of paths added within a few hundred feet of all of the existing paths. That seems like a waste of resources to me considering that there is already a multi-use path entrance near that 4-way stop. Again what concerns me is the cost. Estimated at $1.272 million, I question the necessity of even considering this. Out of curiosity, I called the concrete company on US 1 by Gresham Lake road and the retail cost of an entire half mile’s worth of concrete that would be 6′ wide and an entire foot thick would be around $100,000. The reason I have focused on these two issues is that they have not been started yet. They are in the planning stages and can still be altered. They are both in the works and may be part of an upcoming bond issue. I have been a proponent of these issues, and any others, being put to the public for a vote, but on an individual basis. That way we can all make decisions on a case by case basis. I feel like we should be able to have better direct input on where our resources are used. I hope this helps clear things up a bit, I had not planned on campaigning Thursday night, or I’d have talked more and louder.

    • Thanks for the response Mike.

      This might help to shed some light on the need for the Harris Ave circle. See the info on the Wake Forest North Loop and superstreets in

      • I had actually read your article on understanding super streets when you first posted it. It was very helpful. It also brought to my attention the issue of the massive amounts of traffic that must be going from the Jones Dairy / Highway 98 interchange and heading north on capital. I had not realized that there was a need to take them off of 98 on their way to US 1 and direct them closer to bus routes and neighborhoods, but that is something I want to check with the town about. The super streets idea as I understood them, and your article reinforced, seems an innovative way to keep traffic flowing more while providing safer intersections. They may take a while to get used to, but it’s an out of the box idea that seems to work once in place. It also the kind of innovation that I do not usually associate with our DOT. I have not, however, been able to find any super street plans that include a traffic circle. In fact, it seems like if Harris / Wall became a super street, the traffic circle would be removed and become a super waste. Thanks for your humorous news reporting. I know that when I watch most news, it makes me want to laugh or cry, and I prefer the laughter! Keep it up!

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