Local Politics

Safety center produces stalemate over stalemate

Posted April 27, 2010
Updated May 18, 2010

— The City Council apparently cannot agree on anything when it comes to a proposed center for all of Raleigh's public safety operations.

A council task force tabled discussion Tuesday on whether the city should spend up to $150,000 on a consultant to re-evaluate plans for the $205 million Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center. Some members said plans for the downtown tower should be scrapped and the city should start over from scratch.

The original plan for the safety center called for housing 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 last month vacated its building on the site.

The City Council deadlocked in March on a plan to finance the center. 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 then proposed a financing strategy that would allow Raleigh to build the safety center without raising taxes, prompting the council to take a second look at the idea.

A task force made up of Mayor Charles Meeker and council members Mary-Ann Baldwin, Bonner Gaylord and Russ Stephenson have met twice to draw up a list of issues for an outside consultant to examine, such as location and financing, but the issue continues to split city officials.

"It's obvious we need a new public safety center. Our police department now is housed in a former bar. I think that they deserve better than that," Baldwin said. "I'm not sure what we do at this point."

The police department's downtown substation has moved to a former restaurant and nightclub on Dawson Street, but police headquarters is now in an office building on Six Forks Road.


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  • webberx101 Apr 28, 2010


  • WHEEL Apr 27, 2010

    Now they are going to have to add a few more floors for the Pinestraw Enforcement Division.

  • garnerCanesFan Apr 27, 2010

    NH Mom, Engineers/Architects do initial to final drawings, which get put for bid. When projects are WAY over budget the contractors find ideas to cut costs, and even redesign entire systems at NO COST, because the contractors want the job. The ENG/Arch make the adjustments, put their stamp on the drawings and the project is built. Starting from scratch would cost the city 2-3x more in design fees alone.

  • NH Mom Apr 27, 2010

    Enough time has already been wasted on the Lightner Center. Scrap it and start over. Set a budget and then design the building to fit the needs of the city within that budget. It is time the city council started taking care of the citizens' money instead of politicians' egos.

  • Vietnam Vet Apr 27, 2010

    ""It's obvious we need a new public safety center. Our police department now is housed in a former bar. I think that they deserve better than that," Baldwin said.

    Yes I agree that Raleigh's police deserve better accomodations than a former bar, but Meeker and company just moved them there from their former facility. And we're now supposed to feel sorry for them and jump in and fund and build their new "Taj Mahal" that the city has repeatedly tried to ram down the citizens of Raleigh's throats? (Sound familiar folks...Can you say Healthcare? The new way of government...just force feed it!) Unless Raleigh can find some way to pay for this new facility, in this economic downturn, without further impact to the tax structure, I say, don't build it! Perhaps at some time in the future, if circumstances change, but now is NOT the time Mr. Meeker!

  • garnerCanesFan Apr 27, 2010

    Plans don't need to be scrapped, just revised. Most people don't realize the entire power distribution, including generators,is located on the top floors. This cost is astronmical. There is also a $750,000 LED sign on the top that is totally automated.
    Once this project gets Value Engineered, I bet the new budget would be 30-40 million less. I for one like the idea of centralized agencies. It will make for more productivity and better communication between departments.
    But it does not need to be the 'Monument' that it currently is.