@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Slow negotiations on Dix site frustrate Raleigh mayor

Posted November 22, 2013

— Mayor Nancy McFarlane said Friday that state officials need to pick up the pace of negotiations that will allow Raleigh to convert the Dorothea Dix campus south of downtown into a regional park.

"The whole process has been very frustrating," McFarlane said.

Then-Gov. Beverly Perdue agreed late last year to lease the 325-acre Dix property to Raleigh for a park, but Republican lawmakers didn't like the terms of the deal. Legislators couldn't agree what to do next, so Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh officials delayed the lease until next June to allow for new negotiations.

McFarlane sent McCrory a letter on Nov. 13 stating concerns about a "pattern of delay" in the negotiations, noting the city had a Dec. 1 deadline for environment assessments of the property.

"It just seemed to become harder and harder to get the information back that we needed," she said Friday. "I felt he needed to know that we were not going to meet that Dec. 1 deadline and why."

The deadline has since been pushed back to March 1.

"Clearly, we don't have any more wiggle room. We need to stay on task," McFarlane said.

McCrory said last week that he wants to reach a renegotiated lease agreement by early December.

"I want this Dix Park to work, but I also have to protect the interest of the state," he said. "I have to think about the long-term goal of needing facilities for health and human services."

Dorothea Dix property in fall Raleigh still hopes lease for Dix site can be ironed out

The Dix site includes state Department of Health and Human Services offices and a now-closed mental hospital.

The Governor's Office offered no updates on the negotiations Friday.

McFarlane said she hasn't heard from McCrory since she sent the letter, but she remains optimistic.

"He's very good about calling me back, so I'm hoping he will and that he'll take into consideration my suggestion we meet on a regular basis," she said. “Regular updates are going to be incredibly important, so I’ll have to keep on it.”

Any new lease agreement would have to be approved by the Council of State – and lawmakers also might want a say in the final terms of the deal.

"I'm convinced we're going to get it done," McFarlane said. "I don’t want to spend taxpayer dollars in court. That’s not productive.”

18 Comments

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  • happymom Dec 2, 2013

    I'm okay with the delay. I'm actually okay if the deal never goes through. This is state land. A park benefits the City of Raleigh (maybe), but that's not the central issue here.

    Someone mentioned Hemlock Bluffs as an example of park that they frequent. Dix is not currently a Hemlock Bluffs, but it is in a vastly more natural state now than it will be once Raleigh (and the developers) get their hands on it. Anyone can drive to the Dix campus and enjoy it now without this deal going through. I enjoy it now. However, once it's "converted," i.e., developed into a money-making amusement park, my family will avoid it like the plague.

    I don't see a benefit to the people of NC (to whom the land belongs now) by turning the campus into a developed amusement complex controlled by the City of Raleigh.

    I don't like much of what McCrory does, but I find myself agreeing with his delay.

  • liskm Dec 1, 2013

    Maybe Pat has had opportunity to sit by his fire pits and new fireplaces to contemplate that some others would like a spot to relax in as well...Won't hold my breath for that tho'

  • timmystrickland4022 Nov 28, 2013

    Until we get that deal made, I'll be wondering just when the bulldozers will be finished at Hoffman Forest, and headed over to level the Dix property, too.

    WELL FOR ONE THING THE BUILDINGS WILL REMAIN STANDING, CITY OF RALEIGH CAN`T TOUCH THAT PART. THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA WILL STILL BE USING THOSE BUILDINGS. THE STATE HAS THE RIGHT TO BACK OUT OF THE DEAL. NO MONEY HAS PASSED HAND YET.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Nov 27, 2013

    "This site needs to stay state owned and reopened as a mental health place...This land was not meant to be a Raleigh Park. This is just wrong to even think that." - maybelle

    That would have been a reasonable position in 1988. Mental health care in North Carolina no longer involves the Dix property in the 21st century. It is 2013, and almost 2014.

    Mental health care funding is definitely a crisis nationally and especially in NC. One hopes the NC general assembly will have the moral focus to address the problem soon, but don't hold your breath.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Nov 27, 2013

    "downtown: I get what you mean....I get what you say about public transportation, but rail just wont work here. It would not make sense to spend the huge money on rail that would only benefit a very small amount of people." - notexactly

    Again, I appreciate your perspective. Rail is very expensive, and its benefits don't filter out across the region evenly.

    I hope they will consider a "bus system on steroids" as an alternative option.

    With well-planned routes, smaller and newer buses with amenities to make a quality riding experience, more frequent stops, and supporting sidewalks, spacious bus shelters, electronic status monitors, etc., there is definitely potential for bus service to offer more overall benefit for the money. And it might prove to be more flexible and capable of benefiting more people.

    I'm no public transportation expert. I just see that more roads and lanes isn't getting it done anymore. There are 2 million of us in greater Raleigh now!

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Nov 27, 2013

    "downtown: I get what you mean. but this is state land and not Raleigh land. I get what both side want. Nancy want a park for Raleigh, cool. But Pat has to look at the use of the land to make sure it benefits all people from across the state as well. I think the deal could include both and work out just fine." - notexactly

    Appreciate your comment, and basically agree. It is just frustrating that McCrory and Co. seem to have some kind of deficit of altruism and intellect about what is good for the people of North Carolina. If I were wrong about that, McCrory would have closed the deal on Dix Park. Instead, they apparently consider it preferable to proudly wear their obstructionism like a flag.

    But I suppose you are right. Eventually they'll get bored with throwing public money at their donors and actually think about doing something useful for the public - probably a few months before the next election.

  • maybelle Nov 26, 2013

    This site needs to stay state owned and reopened as a mental health place. The mental people in our state have gotten the shaft because of politics. Adult care homes can't take care of all of them.
    And if not a mental health place needs to be state offices.
    This land was not meant to be a Raleigh Park. This is just wrong to even think that.

  • notexactly Nov 26, 2013

    downtown

    I get what you mean. but this is state land and not Raleigh land. I get what both side want. Nancy want a park for Raleigh, cool. But Pat has to look at the use of the land to make sure it benefits all people from across the state as well. I think the deal could include both and work out just fine. I get what you say about public transportation, but rail just wont work here. It would not make sense to spend the hugh money on rail that would only benefit a very small amount of people.

  • Krimson Nov 25, 2013

    Superman: "Why would anyone drive across town or wherever to go to a park there"

    Our family drives all over Wake to take our kids to different parks - White Deer, Greystone, Laurel Hills, Pullen, Lake Johnson, Prairie Ridge, Lake Wheeler, Hemlock Bluffs - all in the last couple of months.

    Not every one lives in your insular world, and not everyone views this as "waste"...

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Nov 25, 2013

    "Is this "wonderful Raleigh park" another "must have" such as a light rail transportation system? The City leaders have been advised by 3 consultants to delay the light rail system! Should the City of Raleigh proceed with the new Raleigh Park? I think not!" - skeeter

    Transportation, parks, just lump all kinds of unrelated things together. It's all the same to you, eh? Stuff you're against because it costs tax money.

    You really have this figured out, skeeter. Instead of a great park, we could have another big box store full of Chinese must-have merchandise, and a 100-acre parking lot.

    Instead of public transportation, we could just add Interstate 640 and 740 next to 540 so we have lots more car lanes. Oh, that won't take much tax money at all, will it?

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