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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – DECEMBER 2, 2012 CONTACT: JOEY STANSBURY, 919-771-3736, WAKEACTIVE@GMAIL.COM
DIX PARK – THE RALEIGH PERSPECTTIVE RALEIGH CITIZENS NEED A TRUE PLAN, ITS FULL COSTS AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO VOTE ON YET ANOTHER PROPOSED COSTLY DOWNTOWN PROJECT Raleigh, NC – The news media and social media chatter on Dix Park has focused primarily on Governor Perdue’s actions to lease the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus to Raleigh for a “destination” park. Little attention has focused on Raleigh’s actions in this deal. There’s good reason for that. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and her predecessor, Charles Meeker, have refused to allow any public knowledge of or input into their secretive proposal to potentially commit funds well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. As reported in Friday’s News & Observer, Perdue has proposed leasing the Dix Hospital campus to the city of Raleigh “for as much as $68 million over 75 years” with the option to “renew the lease for an additional 24 years.” Raleigh businessman Gregory Poole, part of the insider group of individuals pushing the park, has noted additional costs of “$3 million to $4 million to draft a master plan.” And Raleigh City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin noted that: “Nobody knows the environmental hazards that exist there,” Baldwin said. “Say you bought the land for $65 million and then you find out there’s another $65 million of remediation that has to be done.” What Councilwoman Baldwin has suggested is a possible cost of $138 million. What she has made clear is that no one really knows how much this proposed project will cost Raleigh taxpayers. And all done with absolutely zero public input or knowledge. A few select insiders are working a long-term deal that will easily run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. But as Baldwin noted, we don’t really know the actual costs. Raleigh Councilwoman Baldwin has unfortunately backed off her previous support for public approval of the project:
Once the two sides settle on a price for the land, Raleigh voters should get the final say on a potential sale, said City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin, a park supporter.
The city must balance a host of projects, including a 911 center proposed as the first phase of a public safety facility. "Because of the number of priorities we now have, going to the voters for approval would be the smartest way," Baldwin said. "It would be a true endorsement of this as a priority." Raleigh News & Observer – February 13, 2012 http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/13/1851093/park-backers-see-hope.html (Emphasis added)
Raleigh City Councilman Thomas Crowder also recently publicly affirmed Raleigh’s lack of a detailed plan and costs for the Dix Hospital campus:
Mr. Crowder stated he thought the lease was up for renewal with Mr. Hisler pointing out we have a five year lease with CASL and we would anticipate negotiating two leases one with the State and one with CASL. Mr. Crowder stated no one would argue that it is a good use but he feels we need to have a clearer vision of where we want to go with the Dix property in general. Raleigh City Council minutes – September 4, 2012 http://www.scribd.com/doc/107286119/CC-Minutes-20120904 (Emphasis added)
And how has Raleigh handled multi-million dollar park and other proposals in recent years? They’ve been done through a very open, detailed and publicly transparent – something completely lacking with the Dix Park proposal:
Raleigh 2003 citywide Parks and Greenways Bond cost approved by voters: $49.2 million Raleigh 2007 citywide Parks and Greenways Bond cost approved by voters: $88.6 million http://www.raleighnc.gov/projects/content/PRecDesignDevelop/Articles/ParkBondFAQs.html Detailed content of 2007 citywide Parks and Greenways Bond proposed projects and associated costs: http://www.raleighnc.gov/projects/content/PRecDesignDevelop/Articles/ParkBondFAQs.html Total cost of Raleigh’s 2011 citywide Transportation and Housing Bond approved by voters: $56 million. http://www.raleighnc.gov/home/content/PubAffairs/Articles/CouncilConsideringBondReferendum.html I should add a caveat to the above – with the exception of downtown Raleigh projects: Former Mayor Charles Meeker and the Raleigh City Council bypassed voter approval for the following downtown projects: Project: Raleigh Convention Center Raleigh City Plaza Fayetteville Street Opening Raleigh downtown Amphitheater Total: Cost: $243.4 million $10.6 million * $13.9 million $1.5 million $269.4 million Interest: $200 million $5.2 million $7.5 million $.6 milliion $213.3 million Total: $443.4 million $15.8 million $21.4 million $2.1 million $482.7 million Year: 2008 2009 2006 2010
http://www.scribd.com/doc/101486270/Downtown-Improvements-Inquiry *Other Raleigh budget documents show this cost at $14.8 million. http://www.scribd.com/doc/101486284/Memo-From-Dan-Howe It appears we will have yet another downtown Raleigh project that escapes public insight, input or approval. Since the adoption of the City’s “2030 Comprehensive Plan” in 2009, there has been $2.5 billion of investment in downtown, of which $1 billion went towards public projects, such as award-winning streetscape projects like Fayetteville Street and City Plaza, new affordable housing developments, the Raleigh Convention Center, and the Wake County Courthouse. Raleigh TIGER grant application – March 19, 2012 http://www.scribd.com/doc/106113898/Union-Station-Phase-1-Tiger-Grant-Application (Emphasis added) When Nancy McFarlane ran for Raleigh Mayor last fall, she stated concerning the proposed public safety center building: McFarlane has defended the city's work on the project but said she's willing to rethink the proposal and possibly hold a referendum to seek public guidance. "That specific building is probably dead," she said Tuesday, referring to the earlier design. Mayoral candidate Nancy McFarlane commenting on Raleigh’s proposed public safety center building. Raleigh News & Observer – September 21, 2011 http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/09/21/1505012/mayoral-candidates-find-common.html (Emphasis added) Apparently McFarlane’s statement on public referendums for proposed multi-million dollar downtown projects was mere election year rhetoric. Let’s look at McFarlane’s hypocrisy when it comes to public input: But Commissioner Erv Portman led the call FOR transit and FOR letting the voters have a voice. Commissioners Betty Lou Ward and James West spoke strongly in favor of Portman’s resolution and voted for it. Commissioners Paul Coble, Joe Bryan, Tony Gurley, and Phil Matthews all voted against it. In fact, they did not even discuss it, again shutting out the public from having an opportunity to vote on transit. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams, and Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles spoke at the meeting representing seven other Wake mayors in urging the County Commission to discuss and vote on the transit plan. These mayors and Commissioners Portman, Ward and West are to be commended for their fine leadership and their support for allowing the public to be involved in decisions affecting our community!
WakeUp Wake County/Capital Area Friends of Transit newsletter – June 19, 2012 (Emphasis added) http://www.scribd.com/doc/101489234/CAFT-Newsletter-June-19-2012 While Nancy McFarlane has sought to publicly castigate Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble for delaying a vote on a proposed transit plan, she has kept the public from having any knowledge into or ability to vote on yet another costly downtown project that will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars (although no one can provide an accurate level of costs that Raleigh taxpayers will have to pay). Hypocrisy at its finest. And how have other members of the Wake County progressive community recently addressed issues concerning public input and transparency? It is worth noting that Mayor McFarlane’s husband, Ron, has served as a “vice chair and secretary for the board of WakeUp Wake County.” WakeUp Wake County: … calls for the disclosure of all details behind the plan for so-called “community-based assignments.” "The Board of Education has no blueprint, no plan, no analysis of costs; they are building a house of cards that is going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars," said Yevonne Brannon, Great Schools in Wake Chair. Great Schools in Wake/WakeUp Wake County media release – March 3, 2010 http://www.newsobserver.com/content/media/2010/3/3/coalition.pdf (Emphasis added) … continued Brannon, “it is simply irresponsible to move forward without full disclosure of a complete plan with its associated costs. I believe, in the end, that we will all find these costs to be extraordinary.” Great Schools in Wake/WakeUp Wake County media release – April 1, 2010 http://www.scribd.com/doc/106112880/04-01-10 (Emphasis added) A plan with so many open questions and unknown costs and consequences must be subject to greater scrutiny so it may be further refined and then implemented. Failure to do so will undermine further the public’s trust and jeopardize future funding to operate our schools and build the new ones we need by 2014. (1) This plan costs more money, lacks a detailed budget and funding, and buses more children. … No analysis has been calculated to measure the additional costs. Great Schools in Wake/WakeUp Wake County Assignment Plan Position Paper – January 9, 2012 http://www.newsobserver.com/content/media/2012/1/9/GSIW%20Position%20Paper%20on%20Stude nt%20Assigment.pdf (Emphasis added)
Great Schools in Wake (GSIW) is again calling for a full public disclosure of the detailed financial analysis behind the new “choice” student assignment plan. ... To date, any discussion of costs has been piecemeal. … “This is neither a family-friendly plan, nor a community-friendly process,” continued Brannon. “In the interest of all Wake County residents, we are asking that our School Board demand a full disclosure of assignment and transportation plan details before any more costly decisions are made. Great Schools in Wake/WakeUp Wake County Assignment Plan media release – February 17, 2012 http://wakeupwakecounty.com/cms/sites/default/files/2-17-12_Great_Schools_Press_Release.pdf (Emphasis added) And how has WakeUp Wake County responded on an issue clearly lacking public oversight or approval? Dead silence. Hypocrisy again. We expected nothing less of course.
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