Local Politics

Politics Could Delay Dix Decision for 2 Years

Posted August 17, 2007

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— Plans to redevelop the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus could be held up for two years, officials said Friday.

The mental health hospital is expected to close early next year as patients are transferred to a new facility being built in Butner. The move will free 306 acres just south of downtown Raleigh for development.

Raleigh has offered $10.5 million to buy the land from the state and convert it into a Central Park-type attraction. Others have proposed a mix of housing, offices and retail on part of the property, and Gov. Mike Easley included plans for a Department of Health and Human Services office at the site in his budget proposal earlier this year.

Lawmakers didn't resolve the issue during the recently concluded legislative session, which could mean that the 3-year-old Dix debate will go on for another couple of years.

"It has been a very long and hard process," said state Sen. Janet Cowell, D-Wake. "It may well go into '09."

Cowell said it's unlikely such a hot-button issue would be addressed during next year's short session of the General Assembly. Also, most members of the Council of State will be up for election in 2008, making it unlikely they will touch the debate, she said.

"There's no question it's frustrating a decision wasn't made by the General Assembly," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said. "The offer made by the city (for the land) was in good faith."

Easley said he expects the issue to be resolved eventually with a large portion of the site preserved.

"We have to look at the whole state, where Mayor Meeker, to his credit, looks at Raleigh to try and see what's best for Raleigh. I live in Raleigh – that's really not a conflict – I have a feeling that's really going to get resolved in a good way," Easley said. "I hope we can preserve that property and all have a win-win out of it."

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  • skeeter II Aug 19, 2007

    The state has many state employees and rents "much" office space in Wake county!!!!!!!!!!!!11
    Using "county boy" logic, why pay that rent each year -- why not move the state offices to the Dix campus and out of rented buildings? During the first year or two, the amount that would have been paid for rent could be used to renovate the existing buildings or maybe build new buildings to house the state employees. In future years, the amount that would have been paid for rent could be used and maybe give us a state tax cut!!!!!!!!!
    Or used to improve the mental health treatment or pay the increasing Medicaid costs!!!!!!!
    NAW! too logical.

  • IceCreamMan Aug 18, 2007

    Lake Wheeler Rd. is an atrocious area until it crosses Tryon, at which point it becomes perfectly safe. Of course, as soon as it crosses Tryon it's surrounded by hundreds of acres of NCSU farmland, which the thugs don't care about at all. The murder of Jenna Nielson is a perfect example of how unsafe the north side of Lake Wheeler Rd. is. Converting Dix into a park would be a complete waste, as it would be overrun by the criminals and homeless lowlifes in no time at all.

  • christinathefern Aug 18, 2007

    It seems every dealing with Dix is crazy..poor Dorthea, she has probably turned over in her grave a hundered times by now.

  • yruatwit Aug 18, 2007

    IceCreamMan hit the nail on the head. The area surrounding the hospital is a low wealth, thug haven. The only use feasible to "tidy" up that part of town and make it inviting and safe for the public would be high dollar condos/shopping facilitites which result in high security and regular police exposure.

  • Darren Aug 18, 2007

    Seems to me the best (least coercive) solution would be for the state to renounce its ownership of the property, thus allowing it to revert to the commons. The first private individual or entity that could legitimately, non-coercively lay claim to, and control, the property (or any part of it) should be considered the rightful owner of that part and should be able to do with it what they wish. Ideally, if the market truly desires a park, an organized group of citizens would put their money together and take initial ownership of the property or try to buy it from whoever was able to take initial ownership. Maybe the end result is part of it would end up as a privately owned (and thus high quality) park and other parts would be developed in other ways as the market demanded.

  • asufans Aug 18, 2007

    At the the mentally ill will be allowed to have 2 more years of treatment. New hospital at Butner will only have 432 beds. Dix and Umstead have over 600 beds apiece. Where are these people going? They could play in the park I guess.

  • IceCreamMan Aug 18, 2007

    If they make it into a huge park, it might as well be called Rape Park. That area of town is far too ghetto right now. It needs to be mixed use condo's/shopping/etc. to bring an influx of decent human behavior. As nothing but a park it would be a cesspool.

  • Myword Aug 18, 2007

    Why don't they all just just delay it for years and years and meanwhile KEEP IT OPEN so it can do its job to help people with severe mental health problems! Jeeez. Aren't there enough yuppie condos that one place here can be spared to actually do some REAL good?

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 17, 2007

    sell it to a developer. Meeker should like that since it would be development inside the beltline.

  • Taxpayer Aug 17, 2007

    I vote for public housing.

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