Local News

City Rack Concerns Delay Newspapers On Fayetteville Street

Posted October 23, 2006 8:42 a.m. EDT

— Empty storefronts along Raleigh's new Fayetteville Street are filling up, but one feature remains vacant: There are still no newspapers in the new city-owned newspaper racks.

The city is trying to come up with a fair policy for the racks, but some publications are concerned that the racks will limit the ability to distribute. A proposed policy on private use of public space will also limit the amount of racks allowed on each block leading to Fayetteville Street.

"We have approximately 60 locations in the downtown overlay district, and we would stand to lose 20 to 25 of those through the ordinance," said News & Observer Vice President of Circulation Jim Puryear.

The North Carolina Press Association has concerns about the proposed policy and is reviewing it now. It opposes any attempt by a governmental entity to restrict a newspaper's constitutional right to distribute the news.

Publications are also concerned that some periodicals will get better placement over others.

The Raleigh Urban Design Center, which is establishing the new policy, is following the lead of other cities by proposing a lottery system based on the frequency of a publication and its circulation.

With about 140 spaces on Fayetteville Street, Director Dan Douglas said there is likely room for every periodical, but that every company might not be happy with its assigned spot.

"In any city policy, there are always some folks that don't get everything they want, and we are really working to make it fair and equitable," Douglas said. "And we are doing our best that everyone gets access to information."

The new ordinance on public space also includes rules for outdoor dining and vendors.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said he believes revisions to the proposed ordinance are likely. Ultimately, however, the City Council decides what gets revised.

The city hoped to have the boxes filled with the reopening of the Fayetteville Street in July, but the ongoing debate and staff changes have kept that from happening.

A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21. The city hopes to have the policy in place and newspapers in the rack by Jan. 1.

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