Local News

Groups oppose proposed Raleigh safety center

Posted January 27, 2010 6:16 p.m. EST

— Three local conservative groups on Wednesday criticized the design and cost of a planned downtown public safety center.

The 300,000-square-foot Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center, which is projected to cost $205 million, would house the city's police and fire departments, as well as its 911 operations center and other emergency services. The 16-story building would sit at the current site of the Raleigh Police Department at the corner of McDowell and Hargett streets.

City Council members have in recent weeks debated the cost of the project, which could require a tax increase. Some have suggested ways to cut costs, and others have called for renovating the existing police headquarters instead of constructing a new building.

The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, the Wake County Taxpayers Association and North Carolina Americans for Prosperity said the safety center costs twice as much as they believe it should and placing the emergency communications center above ground makes it vulnerable. They also called for putting the project to a public vote in a citywide referendum.

Mayor Charles Meeker and City Manager Russell Allen have said the city needs the new safety center and that delaying the project could cost the city if interest rates and construction costs increase.