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Opponents, supporters of Dorothea Dix land plan make voices heard

Dorothea Dix campus (foreground) from the air.
April 8, 2013 8:08:44 PM PDT
The debate over the Dorothea Dix land lease was back at center stage in Raleigh Monday.

The Wake County legislative delegation is seeking input from residents as lawmakers decide whether to void the lease involving the prime real estate in Raleigh.

People on both sides of the fight have been very vocal about it. Two weeks ago, in a similar hearing, advocates for a Dix park seemed to steal the show. Monday more views were heard.

People with strong opinions about what should happen to the Dorothea Dix Hospital property were trying to sway lawmakers on whether the state should scraps its contract with the City of Raleigh.  

One of the last things Gov. Bev Perdue did in office was inking a deal with Raleigh -- leasing it 325 acres of land at about 500,000 for up to 99 years.  Critics said it was a sweetheart deal that shortchanged taxpayers. They support Republican efforts to nix that lease and start over.

However, many who want the park point to that lease as a contract that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Among those who spoke Monday was Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

"The City of Raleigh has committed to not only pay you yearly rent, which you can dedicate to mental health services, but to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to produce a world class destination park and this will still be a state asset," said McFarlane.

McFarlane helped put the deal together.

"I think they really are listening to what people had to say and I hope that produces a good outcome," said McFarlane. "That's what they're here to represent the people."

The hearing two weeks ago didn't make much difference when the Senate voted pretty much down party lines to stop the lease. It's unclear when the House will take it the issue. However, Republicans have the numbers to scrap the lease, but it remains to be seen if they have the will.

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