NCCU trustees want Durham police headquarters nearby

jwise@newsobserver.comSeptember 24, 2013 

— N.C. Central University’s trustees want the city to build its new police headquarters on Fayetteville Street, about half a mile from campus.

Several trustees emailed city leaders last week to support the location at 1103 Merrick St., which has frontage on Fayetteville, Umstead and Grant streets near the Hayti Heritage Center, after a conference-call discussion Sept. 12.

“Members were in full agreement that the suggested location would be an asset for the Fayetteville Street corridor and the community surrounding North Carolina Central University,” board Chairman Dwight D. Perry said Tuesday in a statement.

NCCU trustees John Barbee of Greensboro, Avon Ruffin of Lewisville and Stefan Weathers, also NCCU’s student body president, and trustee-elect Karyn Stith-Wilkerson of Durham sent emails asking Mayor Bill Bell and the City Council to choose the Merrick Street site.

A police station nearby would give NCCU students “a greater sense of security,” Weathers wrote.

Weathers was the only trustee to mention safety, however, and Perry said Monday’s fatal shooting of a criminal suspect on campus has “no impact one way or another” on the board’s position.

“That was an isolated, unfortunate event” that “just happened” to take place at NCCU, he said.

Choosing Merrick Street for police headquarters would “provide opportunities for the university’s academic units and students, specifically the Criminal Justice Department, to engage in training with one of the region’s leading local law enforcement agencies,” Perry said.

Chancellor Debra Saunders-White asked the trustees to talk about the proposed location, Perry said, knowing that it is one of three under consideration.

“Building this facility would be an extreme uplift for the area and seed the thoughts of other business to migrate to the same area,” Barbee wrote in his email to the City Council.

City officials held public meetings in May on the Merrick Street site, former location of the Fayette Place apartment complex, and one at 600 E. Main St. Renovating the current headquarters at 505 W. Chapel Hill St. is the third option, but City Council members seemed to prefer the new sites when they discussed the project last December.

Assistant General Services Director Jina Propst said a recommendation should be ready for City Manager Tom Bonfield next week, “depending upon his schedule.”

The cost for a new headquarters or for renovating the existing Chapel Hill Street building is estimated at about $46 million.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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