Local/State

Vote on Dix park proposal Tuesday

Monday, December 03, 2012

Members of North Carolina's Council of State and Raleigh's City Council are set to vote Tuesday on a deal to turn the 325-acre Dorothea Dix Hospital campus into a park.

Gov. Bev Perdue wants to lease the sprawling hospital grounds to Raleigh for $68 million over 75 years. Perdue administration officials announced the terms Friday, ending months of negotiations to create a destination park near downtown.  

Under the proposed deal, Raleigh would pay $500,000 a year to lease the property, plus a 1.5 percent annual increase compounded over the length of the agreement. City leaders would then have the option to renew the lease for another 24 years.  

Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory has asked the Democratic-controlled Council of State to delay the decision until his administration takes power in January.

In a news release sent to the media Monday, Senate President Phil Berger continued his opposition to the Perdue plan, calling it a "raw deal for N.C. taxpayers."

Berger said research by the General Assembly's nonpartisan Fiscal and Program Evaluation Divisions found the present day value of the proposed lease, after factoring in inflation, is $22.6 million - which he said is much lower "than even the most unfavorable appraisal received when the real estate market was at its low point."

"Even Gov. Perdue's senior advisers readily admit her plan shortchanges North Carolina taxpayers," said Berger. "I trust the Council of State will carefully weigh this important decision. And I know they understand their responsibility to be more than a rubber stamp for Gov. Perdue and her attempt to cobble together a last-minute legacy."

Berger's statements came as a group of the plan's boosters called a news conference Monday to announce a fundraising effort for the project.

The group - calling itself the "Dix Visionaries" - includes businesspeople and community leaders.

They said they are confident they can gather $3 million in private donations.

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(Copyright ©2014 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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