Local Politics

Consultants could smooth dispute over proposed Raleigh safety center

Posted April 6, 2010
Updated May 18, 2010

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— Five weeks after a deadlocked City Council killed plans for a $205 million downtown tower to house all of Raleigh's public safety operations, the proposal stirred to life again Tuesday.

The City Council voted 7-1 to establish a task force that will outline issues to be addressed by an independent consultant, such as possible sites, design, cost savings, and functionality and organization of the facility. The council still must vote to hire a consultant to carry out the study.

The proposed Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center would house the city's fire and police departments, 911 operations center and other emergency services in a 16-story, 300,000-square-foot building at the corner of McDowell and Hargett streets. The Raleigh Police Department recently vacated its building on the site.

The council couldn't agree last month on a plan to finance the center, effectively killing the project. Some council members expressed concern about raising taxes to pay it off, and others said the building included unnecessary amenities and was too costly.

City Manager Russell Allen last week proposed a new financing strategy so Raleigh could build the safety center without raising taxes.

Under his proposal, the city would issue $200 million in federally subsidized bonds over the next two years under provisions of the economic stimulus program. Some other capital projects would be scaled back to free up funds for the safety center.

The plan would leave a gap in the city's budget, beginning at $2 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year and growing to $4 million in fiscal 2013-14.

The council didn't vote on Allen's finance plan.

Mayor Charles Meeker and council members Mary-Ann Baldwin, Bonner Gaylord and Russ Stephenson will serve on the new task force, which is expected to start meeting next week.

13 Comments

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  • streetfightinman Apr 7, 2010

    Meeker go back and control pinestraw rationing!NO means NO!

  • Bob12345 Apr 7, 2010

    WHY CONSULTANTS? BUILD THE THING.

  • SouthernLady05 Apr 7, 2010

    "However, I have yet to be convinced that this building is even needed."

    Go visit the down town headquarters, and just breathe in the asbestos. Then take a look around at how incredibly nasty the building is. You'll be convinced. FYI, there will be no more people in the new building than are in the current one. EVERYONE from the PD, FD, and EMS won't be in this building. Just a lucky few.

  • im rick james Apr 7, 2010

    I agree with James's concern regarding the colocation of all emergency services.

    Assuming that this building is even needed, I also think that there are probably much more affordable options than what they are currently proposing. However, I have yet to be convinced that this building is even needed.

  • telecaster Apr 7, 2010

    I agree with James...Is it really good to have all emergency services in one place? A single point of failure? Seems like spreading things out is a better idea.

  • venitapeyton Apr 7, 2010

    So the last sitting City Council didn't ask enough questions. But why throw away MORE money by hiring a consultant to tell them what they want to hear? The city has professional staff already without having to pay for an outsider's opinion.

    If the current Council is crazy enough to approve an outdoor amphitheater downtown, then what's wrong with moving forward with this emergency services building?

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Apr 7, 2010

    Meeker and Allen aren't going to be happy until they build this monument to themselves.

  • NH Mom Apr 7, 2010

    When is the city going to wake up and get rid of mis-manager Allen. His creative financing ideas are not going to help the city avoid raising taxes, they will just put it off. For some reason he is hell-bent on seeing this building put up and he will try anything to pull the wool over the bax payers' eyes. He has proven over and over that he has is own career interests in mind not the city's interests.

    The city needs to allow the consultants to free reign to completely redesign and redefine the building, if they recommend that such a building is even needed versus leasing and retrofitting space in existing buildings.

  • bluegrass Apr 6, 2010

    Can't just let this pig die can we. Just make sure we don't put any pine straw around it.

  • coolwill43 Apr 6, 2010

    Are the people on the comity the same people that voted for it?

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