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House lawmakers hope for compromise on Dix bill

Posted April 16, 2013

— It will likely be two weeks before a bill undoing the lease between the state and Raleigh for the former Dorothea Dix property is heard in a House committee, lawmakers familiar with the bill's progress said Tuesday. 

The state Senate voted three weeks ago to pull back from a deal signed by Gov. Bev Perdue during the last days of her administration{{/a}}. The agreement, say Republican senators, gives the property too cheaply, starting at $500,000 per year. They also complained that Perdue, a Democrat, rushed through the deal at the last minute, ignoring calls to study the state's options more thoroughly.

Backers of the park deal, including the Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, said the state should not go back on its word and note that a park has been the topic of discussion since the state began making moves to shut down the state mental hospital there a decade ago. 

Since the Senate vote, the bill has sat in the full House Judiciary Committee. 

"The bill is going to be heard sooner or later," committee Chairman Leo Daughtry said. However, he is hoping to avoid the contentious exchanges that marked the measure's path through the Senate.

"It is my hope that the people are able to resolve some of the issues," said Daughtry, R-Johnston. "I hope they are talking among themselves."

Daughtry said that he doesn't have any preconceived notion of what the bill ought to look like, but he has offered himself as a mediator. So far, he said, he has not heard from either side that there are active, ongoing discussions.

Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, said it was her understanding that committee staff was still gathering information regarding the Dix lease in advance of any hearing. She estimated any public discussion of the bill was "one or two weeks" away. 

Avila said that a starting point for compromise might be a 2006 plan reviewed by lawmakers at the time that divided the property between a park, government buildings and commercial uses. 

"That was looked at pretty extensively," she said.

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  • wral mods blow close my account Apr 17, 2013

    Tell the GOP to take a hike. They'll be out of power soon.