Triangle Politics

Dix land swap is up in air

Staff WriterJanuary 6, 2007 

N.C. State University might not be interested in a land swap on Dix Hill after all.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said after meeting with Chancellor Jim Oblinger and Vice Chancellor Charles Leffler that he did not think they wanted to trade the 47-acre field that is at the heart of the fight over the state hospital campus.

Park advocates want it to stay as open space. Some developers think it would be great for condos or offices. And a panel of experts suggested trading it with the college's Centennial Campus business park.

Meeker said he has the "impression" that the university is not interested in a swap. But university officials won't rule it out, either.

Leffler, who is in charge of finance, said the decision will be made based on whether a swap helps the university accomplish its goals of promoting business and providing housing.

"We don't see necessarily that the swap is needed to accomplish the things that are sought here," he said.

PLEASE LEASE ME: The PR battle over long-term leases for schools is heating up.

Robbie Ferris, chief executive officer of FirstFloor K-12 Solutions, has put together a podcast about the benefits of letting private developers serve as landlords for public schools.

In the 3 1/2-minute podcast, available at www.mmimarketing.com, he argues that 20- to 30-year leases are cheaper, promote innovation and allow the school system to "focus on teaching."

"I believe this will be the preferred way to construct new schools in the future, and it may be the answer to Wake County's construction and financing issues," he says.

Of course, not everyone agrees with that assessment.

Ferris, a Fayetteville architect, has done similar leases for the University of North Carolina and helped draft the state legislation. In December, he started a Raleigh office for FirstFloor.

The company also maintains offices in Fayetteville and Winston-Salem.

NEW EYE ON EDWARDS: Geoff Gilson is a writer and humorist and a former co-anchor of "The ESP Show," a political chat show that aired on WCOM 103.5FM, a Carrboro community radio station.

On the day John Edwards announced his campaign for president, Gilson began watch9.blogspot. com, which he says will keep a friendly but gently irreverent eye on Edwards' campaign.

Here's a sample from Thursday's post, titled "The Real Thing?"

"John, you have two years. You can spend that time genuinely helping the poor -- both specifically and in general. Making bold proposals, pushing for far-reaching action, doing the right thing. Even if it means taking risks.

"Or you can stick to talking, finding photo ops, and doing the safe thing. Simply using the poor as a vote-getting platform; a means to ensure trade union support. The choice, John, and the challenge are yours."

POLITICAL TRAIL

* WESTERN WAKE DEMOCRATS

The Western Wake Democrats will meet at 4:30 p.m. Sunday to plan for the new year. The meeting will be held at the Golden Corral at 5707 Dillard Drive in Cary. The restaurant is in Crossroads Shopping Plaza near the Carolina Ale House. R.S.V.P. to Casey Mann at 274-1728 or send e-mail to Casey.M.Mann@gmail.com.

* WAKE DEMOCRATIC MEN

The Wake County Democratic Men's Auxiliary will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Clarion Hotel, 320 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh.The guest speaker will be Jerry Meek, chairman of the state Democratic Party. R.S.V.P. to wakedemmen@wakedems.org or 363-3664 by noon Monday.

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