Former mayors Coble and Bryan should support urban open space at Dix park

March 19, 2013 

It’s downright strange. Two former area mayors, both of them charged while in office with protecting the interests of their communities, suddenly announce they’re joining with Republican legislators who want to gut a lease deal, signed and done, between the state and the City of Raleigh. The city would get the Dorothea Dix mental hospital property near downtown for a 300-plus acre signature park.

One would think a former Raleigh mayor might lead the hurrahs. But Paul Coble, joined by Joe Bryan, former Knightdale mayor, is throwing in with Republican legislators. He and Bryan, in a letter to The News & Observer, say they agree with tearing up the deal, raising the price to Raleigh to “fair market value” and leasing a piece of the property, not all of it.

It’s all in the name of getting more for the land. But Coble and Bryan, now Wake County commissioners (Bryan is the current chairman), are demonstrating peculiar shortsightedness.

The park would benefit the city in preserving huge green space close to an ever-developing downtown, something that would be enjoyed by residents and visitors. And it’s not as if Raleigh is going to make money here with a sweetheart deal. The city will have to invest in developing the park.

And, sometimes, it’s not just about money.

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