Triangle Politics

Raleigh councilman Odom supports Dix park concept, despite 'no' vote

December 8, 2012 

Raleigh City Council member John Odom, the man who cast the lone vote against the city’s deal with the state for a park on the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus, says he supports the park concept, despite his vote against it.

Odom said he would have acted differently had he been the swing vote. He supports the idea of a park on the 300-plus-acre campus south of downtown, but said the city was taking on too much risk without knowing the condition or maintenance costs of the old Dix buildings.

“As much as I wanted to vote for it, there were too many unanswered questions,” he said.

Odom appeared alongside other council members in Mayor Nancy McFarlane’s office for a news conference to trumpet the long-awaited breakthrough. Joining them was former Mayor Charles Meeker, who became a champion for the park during his 10-year tenure.

In an interview, McFarlane said the city had a window of opportunity to complete the deal.

“We’ve been listening to different opinions on a sale, lease and everything else for seven years,” she said. “It finally came down to this agreement, and it’s something that works for the city and state.”

Chairman’s NAACP role debated

Durham County Republicans have called on new county commissioners Chairman Fred Foster to step down as president of the Durham NAACP.

Foster, who won a seat on the county board in November, was elected chairman by fellow commissioners Monday.

His position with the NAACP “will call into question his impartiality as a county commissioner,” the GOP said in a statement Friday.

“When citizens come to the Durham NAACP for advocacy to the county commissioners, whose needs will Mr. Foster choose to serve: those who come to the NAACP or all citizens of Durham?” the statement said. “Mr. Foster was elected county commissioner to be a representative of all the citizens.”

Foster has held the local NAACP presidency for about five years. Before the election, he told The News & Observer he did not think the dual roles would create a conflict of interest for him.

“I don’t see that there is a conflict, but wherever there would be one I would have to recuse myself,” Foster said.

Malone successor search nears

The Wake County school board will begin considering how find a successor to outgoing board member Chris Malone on Tuesday.

Malone announced he will resign Dec. 31 to take the seat he won in the state House of Representatives.

New board Chairman Keith Sutton said the board may begin advertising the position before the holidays but wouldn’t start reviewing applicants or make a selection until after Malone leaves.

Under state law, the process of filling a school board vacancy must be done in public. Everything from the interviews of applicants to the board discussion and vote must occur in open session.

Because the school board is officially nonpartisan, all of the remaining board members, led by the Democratic majority, will fill the opening, though Malone will have no vote.

Sutton said he thinks they should be able to fill the position by the end of January.

Malone’s replacement must live in District 1, which covers Wake Forest, Rolesville, Wendell, Zebulon and part of Knightdale.

Weddings at the lake?

The town of Holly Springs wants you to get married at Bass Lake Park, and it’s willing to sweeten the deal: free stays at the local Hampton Inn & Suites for wedding parties.

The Hampton Inn will be designated the local “Hotel of Choice” for Bass Lake visitors on the town’s website, complete with the hotel’s logo.

The park will also display hotel marketing material at its visitor center, and its staff will “recommend and promote” the Hampton to out-of-town visitors.

In exchange, the town gets a package of 30 free nights at the hotel, which it plans to distribute to couples who book wedding weekends at the park. Bass Lake visitors will also be eligible for a discount rate.

It’s part of the town’s effort to expand the business side of its biggest nature park, which has a large conference building with a “beach house feel” and deck. The town offers the place for $1,500 to residents and $2,250 for weekend weddings. (Beer and unfortified wine are allowed only by permit.)

Compiled by staff writers Andrew Kenney, T. Keung Hui, Matt Garfield and Jim Wise

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