Gov. McCrory backs Dorothea Dix compromise, but Senate leader opposed

ccampbell@newsobserver.comMay 23, 2013 

MCCRORY_BILL

Gov. Pat McCrory

TODD SUMLIN — tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com Buy Photo

— A day after the state House announced a compromise with Raleigh on the Dorothea Dix property, Gov. Pat McCrory voiced his support for the move while the Senate’s Republican leadership attacked it as a delay in “doing the right thing.”

McCrory said he wants to work with Raleigh to help create a destination park while ensuring that the state’s needs, such as an office complex on the Dix land, are still met.

“We’re trying to work out our differences through dialogue and consensus,” McCrory said in a news conference with Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

McCrory is throwing his weight behind a substitute measure that passed the House judiciary committee bill Wednesday. It would allow a year to renegotiate the agreement as a lease or sale of the land, and Raleigh would also get a chance to buy a second parcel from the state – the 40-acre Governor Morehead School property directly across Western Boulevard from Dix. The state would keep 30 acres to house the Department of Health and Human Services.

McCrory and House Republicans will face opposition in the Senate, which passed legislation to throw out the lease immediately. Shortly after the governor’s news conference, Senate leader Phil Berger issued a statement attacking the compromise bill.

“It is difficult to understand why they are extending an unlawful lease,” Berger said. “This proposed agreement delays doing the right thing until 2014 – why not do the right thing today?”

McCrory expressed optimism that the two houses of the legislature can reach an agreement. “We hope they all go along,” he said.

McCrory and McFarlane still disagree on whether the original lease is valid, but Raleigh is willing to start new negotiations following appraisals and environmental assessments. “We know there’s a landfill, we know there’s asbestos and lead ... that will give us a hard number to work with,” McFarlane said Thursday, adding that she hopes that process will happen within six months.

McCrory said those appraisals will need to determine “what is the real fair market value.” Senate Republicans have argued the value is $84 million, which was determined by a state appraisal in 2011.

McCrory also supports the inclusion of the Governor Morehead property in the park plan. “I think there’s an opportunity to connect the Dix park with Pullen Park ... and the N.C. State campus,” he said. But there’s no plan yet to relocate the state’s School for the Blind, which has been there since 1923.

“We have not gotten to that point,” McCrory said.

Berger also took issue with the possible Morehead sale. “The purpose of the Senate’s bill was to put the state on equal negotiating footing with the City of Raleigh,” he said. “Instead the executive branch has ceded more ground.”

Campbell: 919-829-4802 or twitter.com/RaleighReporter

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