Berger’s pledge to nix Dix park draws criticism

A day after Senate President Phil Berger tweeted that legislative leaders would explore options to terminate plans to develop a major park at the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus, North Carolina’s editorial boards are weighing in.

The Fayetteville Observer strongly critizes Berger’s efforts to “sabotage” the deal between outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue, the Council of State, and the City of Raleigh:

“Ever since Perdue unveiled the plan to create a park on the mental hospital’s land, Berger has been in exceptionally high dudgeon. His outrage appears primarily pinned on the potential financial value of the land. He says the property is worth far more than the $68 million Raleigh will pay to lease the land over the next 75 years.

Berger had legislative researchers document the land’s value, and of course they found it has greater worth – especially if it’s developed as commercial property.

But what is Berger suggesting? That a cluster of high-rises would be better than a park? Better for whom? Deep-pocketed, politically active developers, perhaps. Would he prefer that the state sell the land to developers, or lease it to the city at a much higher rate, and thus make a killing on Raleigh taxpayers’ backs?

Berger’s bluster is, so far, monaural. His fellow Republican leaders, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Gov.-elect Pat McCrory, have been low-key about the plan, although McCrory has said he’d prefer that the decision about the hospital land be left to his administration.

Berger, however, has vowed to do whatever he can to overturn the action when the General Assembly returns to session next month. If he does, that will be unfortunate, because one of Perdue’s last major initiatives in office is a good one.

We hope Berger is left to rage alone. Sabotaging this park plan is not a good use of the General Assembly’s time or efforts. We need our state government to find more ways to add or preserve green space for our growing population, and to do it in ways taxpayers can afford. The deal cut by the governor and Raleigh is just that. It’s hardly a pot of gold for the state treasury, but it does return revenue to the state and offers a new urban park to residents and visitors in our state’s capital city. That is the highest and best use of the land.”

And then there’s this from The News & Observer:

“While the park’s approval is heartening, the reaction of Berger and conservative groups is discouraging. Republicans, about to take control of both the General Assembly and the governorship for the first time in a century, send a dismal “humbug” message about their sense of stewardship by attacking rather than endorsing the Council’s act. Gov.-elect Pat McCrory, despite the short-sighted grumbling from members of his party, should stand behind the council’s thoughtful approach toward meeting the needs of today and tomorrow. “

6 Comments

  1. Frank Burns

    December 5, 2012 at 8:32 am

    What Berger is doing is appropriate. He is paid to make sure the citizens of NC, not Raleigh, are getting the best deal for the sale of this state owned property. I’m of the opinion that the City of Raleigh is getting a sweetheart deal at the expense of the rest of the state. We’ve seen this type of thing happen a lot over the years.

  2. Mark Turner

    December 5, 2012 at 9:46 am

    If this were a sale Berger might have a leg to stand on. Instead it’s a lease, still belongs to the state of NC, and for the first time this property will be generating money for the state. Other state properties have been leased to local municipalities for $1 where this one starts at $500,000 a year. This is hardly the “sweetheart deal” some extreme right-wing ideologues make it out to be.

  3. Jeremy S.

    December 5, 2012 at 10:22 am

    The PEOPLE of Raleigh and North Carolina are getting a sweet deal – a major urban park that with smart planning could be a destination park on the same scale as Central Park in New York City, something we can all be proud of having in our state capital. AND the state will make money from the deal!

    Phil Berger is just being petty and small-minded, looking out for his own self-interests and that of commercial developers who would donate big bucks to fund Berger’s political ambitions. Berger’s sense of entitlement is appalling.

  4. Frank Burns

    December 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Jeremy,
    I live in Charlotte, so I don’t plan on driving to Raleigh just to see another city park. So my concern is the City of Raleigh needs to pay more than this deal calls for due to property value. This is a state asset, not a city asset. As an aside, I have no interest in anything from New York City.

  5. david esmay

    December 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Berger is once again demonstrating what a complete tool and lap dog to moneyed interests he is, as an aside, nobody gives a damn about your opinion, or how you plan to spend your time Frank.

  6. Frances Jenkins

    December 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    And North Carolinas care even less about David’s thoughts. He is not exactly right.