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Commission Meets To Discuss Plans For Prized Dorothea Dix Property

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The future of Dorthea Dix Hospital's 334-acre property is up for discussion and there are many options being tossed around the table.

The hospital is expected to close in 2007. A new commission met Friday to discuss the property's future. Members emphasized they expect the property to be sold.

"We are here to say if this property is transferred, what would be the best way to handle that," said Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake.

Many people who live nearby said they would like as much open space to remain as possible.

"It's like a park for us. Lots of people take walks on the campus. It's really lovely and one of the main reasons we moved to Boylan Heights," resident Ruth Bromer said.

The mental health community said the campus should be used for its original purpose.

"Right now, we have no public hospital that has a psychiatric unit within Wake County. Our emergency rooms are going to be filled," said Ann Akland, of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

The state-owned land could also fill a need for additional government offices. Lanier Cansler, the deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that idea would involve major renovations.

"The majority of office space on campus we use is in a poor state of repair," she said.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is asking that proceeds from any sale support programs for the mentally ill. The panel will investigate that suggestion too.

There will be a public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday at the Legislative Building Auditorium. The commission is expected to make its recommendation at the end of March. Ultimately, Gov. Mike Easley and the Council of State will decide the property's fate.


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