NC lawmakers seek to nix Dix property lease - WNCN: News, Weather

NC lawmakers seek to nix Dix property lease

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Some Republicans in the General Assembly want to reconsider the deal that allows the city of Raleigh to turn the grounds of a now-closed state mental hospital into a regional park.

House and Senate members filed similar legislation Thursday that essentially tears up the December lease agreement then-Gov. Beverly Perdue reached with city leaders for the 325-acre Dorothea Dix property. GOP lawmakers say the agreement was rushed and did not get enough money for the state.

The bill would direct state officials to renegotiate leasing a part of the property at a fair market rate for a park and earmark proceeds for mental health programs. The rest of the land would remain in state hands for employee workspace.

The current 75-year lease would give the state up to $68 million.

Republican State Senator, Louis Pate said, "I think the fair thing to do is to start over again at the beginning and hopefully Raleigh will want to go ahead and invest in a park. We hope they will."

Senator Pate said the original lease price given to the city of Raleigh is far below market value, "We know that the land is worth a lot more than that."

How much more? He says he doesn't know yet. If the bill passes, the state will hire a professional appraiser to put a new price value on the land.

Mayor of Raleigh, Nancy McFarlane said "I'm extremely disappointed. We've worked very hard, it was really a nine year process to finally come to an agreement and there's been so much public support for this project."

McFarlane said she was shocked when she first found out about the bill. "I expect the State to fulfill its contractual obligations. I think that it's a message to anybody that is entering into a contract with the State. Can they come back and change it? I'm a business person. I certainly enter into contracts with every intention to ethically fulfill that contract."

The bill will be discussed on Monday at the Legislature. We asked Senator Pate how they're legally allowed to go back on the lease, and he said it's because the state still owns the land. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she is currently talking with the city attorney, about their legal rights to fight back, should the bill pass.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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