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Neighbors decry new Central Prison hospital

Posted July 22, 2008

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— Residents of the Boylan Heights neighborhood voiced their displeasure Tuesday over a hospital and a mental health facility being built at nearby Central Prison.

Construction on the $151 million project, which will include 336 beds, began over the weekend, and residents said crews removed a number of trees that provided a buffer between the maximum-security prison and the neighborhood.

"We hope to be able to save desperately the remaining portion of tree buffer," said Chris Johnson, a member of the Boylan Heights Neighborhood Association.

The project has been in the design phase for several years and was approved as part of last year's state budget. The city held a public hearing on the site plan for the project last year, but residents now complain they had little notice about the construction.

"Our opinion is that it was kept a secret ... from the citizens of Raleigh and the state," Johnson said. "We would have hoped the City Council or elected officials would have notified us."

Mayor Charles Meeker, who lives in Boylan Heights, said the city was aware of the planned construction at Central Prison and said the state Department of Correction should have briefed residents about its plans.

"Naturally, I'm concerned that people are upset about it," Meeker said.

DOC officials met Tuesday night with residents to discuss their concerns, and spokesman Keith Acree said more trees will eventually be planted to replace those cleared during construction.

"Once they see what we're putting back here, I think they're going to be pretty happy. It's going to be a vast improvement over what was here before," Acree said of the planned landscaping.

The new buildings will replace outdated health facilities that totaled 230 beds. They also will allow some procedures to be done at the prison – the hospital will include three operating rooms – so correction officers don't have to transport prisoners to area hospitals for treatment.

Construction is scheduled for completion in 2013. Acree said crews are building atop a former quarry from which the prison's original rock wall was carved, so extensive foundation work is needed.

Once the new facilities open, he said, the former hospital will be razed and the former mental health facility will be renovated and turned into general population cells.


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  • ArkAngels Jul 24, 2008

    Colliedave, I realize CP is a maximum security prison (I grew up around there). I have a friend that worked at Dorothea Dix and she told me what CP did with their mentally ill patients that were sentenced and sent to them... they wound up with them at Dix. Especially if they had to be medicated and tended to, then they became Dix's responsibility to be housed, not Central's. Oh some of the stories that could be told...

    Not sure how it is handled today, but this is how they use to deal with it when she worked there.

  • colliedave Jul 23, 2008

    What I find ridiculous is they are building a mental health facility and a hospital when they are closing Dorothea Dix. Hello... this is part of what Dorothea Dix was USED for, taking the mentally ill patients that the prison could not handle.

    Excuse me. Central Prison is a maximum security prison. And just how would they provide that level of security in getting the inmates across Western Blvd. I believe there will also be cost savings in that currently a correctional officer needs to guard an inmate who is placed at a public hospital. This frees up a CO for other duties.

  • ThePunisher Jul 23, 2008

    I'm glad they're building it in Boylan Heights instead of my neighborhood :-)

  • Bendal1 Jul 23, 2008

    Boylan Heights residents,

    What part of "a public hearing was held last year" did you not understand? Or did you somehow decide you were "too busy" to find out what that "public hearing" was going to be talking about, and now you're all upset because "no one told us".

    Yes they did; that's what the public hearing was for; it's not the Prison's fault that you didn't show up, or pay attention.

    Just like DOT public hearings; hold one and half a dozen people show up, and then the community whines that "no one told us this road was going to be widened" even though they got the same notices as the ones who DID show up.

  • ArkAngels Jul 23, 2008

    I was born and raised in Boylan Heights. My grandmother's house was built there in 1920. It was a great place to grow up and having Central Prison as a neighbor way back then was never a problem.

    What I find ridiculous is they are building a mental health facility and a hospital when they are closing Dorothea Dix. Hello... this is part of what Dorothea Dix was USED for, taking the mentally ill patients that the prison could not handle.

    Supposedly any time that building or construction is going to be done on land, the adjoining neighbors are suppose to be notified and looks like that did not happen in this case. When I was growing up CP was never thought of as a threat to us in the neighborhood and I lived within walking distance of the old one.

    I hae not been back to Boylan Heights since 1990-91 when my dad passed and I sold my grandmother's house. But I will always have fond memories of growing up there.

  • DJ of Clayton Jul 23, 2008

    They started to build Central Prison in 1870 and then moved inmates in 1884. (124 years ago) Boylan Heights was established in 1907 (101 years ago). I am sorry but I am sure that you knew that there was a maximum-security detention facility next to your neighborhood. It has been there for a while. I could see your argument if the state came in after your homes were there but you know that there is a prison there and the potential to add on, just as if you add a garage or pool or shed to your property. Get over it. If you still don’t like it go and run around the fence out there and protest! See how long it takes.

  • Guy Jul 23, 2008

    Micah is right about the location of Boylan Heights. It's' near everything you need. There are 9 N.C. Symphony players, 2 veterinarians, lawyers, Doctors, carpenters, college professors,a violin maker, Meeker and his wife and host of other beautiful people. CodeBlue, you don't know what your talking about.

  • superman Jul 23, 2008

    Hard to believe the residents of Boylan Heights didnt know about the new hospital being built. News like that would spread like wildfire in my neighborhood. You remember all the stuff about "stopping cary" from annexing neighbors? When buying a house -- it be wise to check out the neighborhood first. If they have a landfill in your backyard or a chemical waste disposal plant-- that would be good to know. Ignorance is bliss.

  • wolfpacker93 Jul 23, 2008

    Interesting... When I posted yesterday I read that Meeker supposedly knew nothing about this. Now it comes to light he voted for it. Could there be trouble afoot in Meekerville?! (gasps)Say it ain't so (business as usual) Mayor! LOL.

  • enoughsenough Jul 23, 2008

    Only the best facilities and operating rooms for prisoners to get their free healthcare/surgeries at the expense of many good taxpayers who do not have healthcare for themselves/family. Only the best.