A scaled-back plan for Raleigh’s emergency safety center makes sense

November 29, 2013 

If financial times were fat ... so many sentences in so many cities have started that way since the big recession hit in 2008. And the downturn from which many cities are still recuperating did force cities around the United States to scale back their plans for various municipal projects.

In Raleigh, former City Manager Russell Allen proposed a few years back a grand plan indeed, a 17-story tower downtown that would have been named for the late Clarence Lightner, former Raleigh mayor.

The tower would have housed emergency services and police and fire headquarters on the now-empty site of the city’s former police headquarters.

But some City Council members found the size of the project intimidating, perhaps with good reason, and an argument ensued that ultimately had the plan moved to the back burner. Now it’s off the stove completely with the council’s decision to go ahead with a scaled-down public safety center, just outside the Beltline at the corner of Raleigh Boulevard and Brentwood Road.

The city still should keep its headlights on and determine a useful purpose for the old police headquarters.

This is actually a suitable outcome. The Lightner Center was a good idea, perhaps a little outside the box, but valid questions were raised about putting all the safety headquarters in one building, with the terrorist threat being on some minds.

The downtown location also raised some eyebrows given Raleigh’s far-flung borders.

In any case, the council appears to have made the conservative choice and one that will not run up the city’s debt load.

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