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McCrory looks for compromise on Dix

Posted April 9, 2013

— Gov. Pat McCrory says the existing lease agreement between the state and Raleigh for the Dorothea Dix property will need to change but that all sides should be able to get what they want, including a new destination park.

The Republican stopped short of endorsing legislation at the General Assembly that would undo an agreement signed by former Gov. Bev Perdue in December that allowed the city to lease the property. But he said the deal for the property "wasn't done the right way" and needs to be adjusted.

"I think there's a way for Raleigh to get a park, a beautiful park, and I think there's also a way for the state to have a future site for a state mental hospital and state offices for Health and Human Services that are desperately needed," McCrory said.

McCrory spoke with WRAL News on Tuesday in advance of his 100th day in office, which will be this weekend. In a wide ranging interview, McCrory talked about the frustrations and challenges of his new job, dealing with the legislature, tax reform and other issues, including renewable energy.

Finding a win-win

Regarding the Dix campus, McCrory noted that, as late as October, there was a three-party deal in the works that involved the state, city and North Carolina State University, under which part of the property would have been preserved for offices and mental health treatment.

"Then, somehow between October and November, the minutes change," he said, referring to records of Raleigh City Council meetings. "As late as October, before a deal was struck a month later, there was cooperation, there was dialog, and there was sharing of a very important property for the future vision of not just Raleigh but also the future needs of Health and Human Services."

Gov. Pat McCrory McCrory says all sides can still win in Dix debate

He said there needs to be a master plan that integrates "the park with Health and Human Services and with other needs of the community and the state."

Asked whether he favors a bill that would dissolve a lease between the state and city, McCrory said local and state leaders need to meet regardless of whether the bill passes.

"Whether it's done through legislation or done through the Council of State or done through legal action, the results are probably going to have to be the same," he said, adding that the pending legislation had a very good chance of passing. "I'd prefer not to work through litigation. I'd prefer to work through partnership." 

Referring again to the plan that involved N.C. State, McCrory said, "There were three groups sharing the property, and the land-print of the park was much smaller – still huge but much smaller than what they're now saying they have to have." 

Stepping into leadership

McCrory said that he had to deal with "basic breakdowns" in state government when he first took office. He spoke particularly about having trouble figuring out last-minute budget moves made by Perdue and getting rid of old Democratic appointees.

McCrory with Crabber Web only: McCrory discusses first 100 days in office

"People were transferred out of the executive branch to other departments the month before I arrived. It took time to find who these people were and deal with them," he said. 

McCrory said that he is trying to keep his early administration focused on three basic items: the economy, education or efficiency.

"On some of the peripheral issues, I either let other people lead, or I may ignore the peripheral issues that take our attention off of those things the people are most interested in us fixing and why we came here," he said.

He said recent announcement regarding the budget, remaking Medicaid and reorganizing the Commerce Department reflect those priorities.

"We'll have more to come in transportation, and several other departments in the very near future," he said.

36 Comments

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  • NYHC Apr 10, 2013

    The Republicans are so disingenuous...they won't be using the money for mental health...they'll just wait a few months and sell it to developers.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Apr 10, 2013

    How depressing to read these Dix threads...people coming out of the woodwork and expressing anti-park opinions that proudly flaunt their complete lack of knowledge about the history of the Dix property.

    I have never seen a group of legislators create a single bill that succeeds in making losers out of everyone involved - and for what? So they can try to fleece the citizens of Raleigh out of millions more dollars, while making a political point about their hatred of the previous governor.

  • happymom Apr 10, 2013

    "and the town of garner has free land for them at the old slim jim site. there was already a plan in review for the consolidation of all these departments in a new location that would save the state money. garner has lobbied hard to locate it at the site they were given by conagra after the explosion and garner has shown that the majority of these workers live in the southeastern wake area."

    None of this was mentioned when the state released a preliminary report (under Perdue) about potential relocation sites and their associated costs. Not one mention of Garner. Either that plan has fallen through completely or it was shoved aside in favor of other, more expensive, options.

  • dwntwnboy2 Apr 10, 2013

    "So how is the entire state going to enjoy a city park in Raleigh?"- how does the entire state enjoy parks in other parts of the state? We put them there for the enjoyment of everyone. ANYONE is free to use and visit. It's looking forward to a time when there isn't a vast green space to turn into a park. Central Park in NYC was NOT a popular idea when it was proposed- with much of the same language. The city and people looked past the "now" and saw what it could be, Raleigh- as the state capital- was doing the exact same. It took almost ten years, 2 mayors and 2 governors to get the deal done, and only ONE clown to come in and wreck everything.

  • delta29alpha Apr 10, 2013

    It is our Park and the state should welcome the idea Raleigh wants to build something for the entire state to enjoy..oddportal

    So how is the entire state going to enjoy a city park in Raleigh? What will it have that you won't be able to find in any other town, state, county, municipal, corporate or community park? Why would anyone travel any length of time to go to a park when they likely have parks closer to them. No this park, unless it's a large theme park, will end up used only by local Raleigh people. At the least, the size should be reduced. The park don't need to extend over that huge tract of land.

  • archmaker Apr 10, 2013

    Ugh... no they have not. The hospital is no longer open, but DHSR, the DHHS secretary, and many others are still housed on the Dix campus. happymom

    and the town of garner has free land for them at the old slim jim site. there was already a plan in review for the consolidation of all these departments in a new location that would save the state money. garner has lobbied hard to locate it at the site they were given by conagra after the explosion and garner has shown that the majority of these workers live in the southeastern wake area.

  • happymom Apr 10, 2013

    "They have already been moved, there are no longer any employees on site....."

    Ugh... no they have not. The hospital is no longer open, but DHSR, the DHHS secretary, and many others are still housed on the Dix campus.

  • mmtlash Apr 10, 2013

    "Perdue broke the deed to begin with when she leased the land for anything other that mental health.Can't break a contract that was legal to begin with." -nic

    Actually the Centennial Campus for NCSU and the Farmers Market are built on former Dix property...should the state take that property back too?

  • mmtlash Apr 10, 2013

    "Here's an idea... how bout you come up with a way to cover the cost of moving 10,000 state employees somewhere in Wake county while swallowing a multi-million dollar loss on the prime real estate where they used to be housed." -happymom

    They have already been moved, there are no longer any employees on site.....

  • oddportal Apr 10, 2013

    It is our Park and the state should welcome the idea Raleigh wants to build something for the entire state to enjoy... How dare out of town legislators come to our city and determine land within our city limits be used as a revenue source selling this land as a development which is not wanted in Raleigh.... NO Gov. McCrory you do not have a right to yank this park from us and we will stand with our city leaders and business community to keep this park... Stop pitting our city against the rest of North Carolina and start using some of that leadership you tout so often to bring us all together for a picnic at our new city park.... Stop building on the "Raleigh is a bad place you used to get elected and respect our ability to build world class destinations." We spent a lot less money to bring home the Stanley cup than Charlotte has spent on their pro sports teams... Leave us alone. We have this...

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