Mental health advocates have been critical of Raleigh’s plans for a destination park on the 308-acre Dorothea Dix property. They say making the site purely recreational would be a disservice to the site’s legacy as a psychiatric hospital.
Now they’re asking President Barack Obama to intervene. A petition launched this week calls for the site to be designated a national monument, which would give the federal government a say in how the land is used. By Tuesday afternoon, it had 161 signatures.
“It may be that only by creation of a National Monument can historic preservation be included in the plans for the future of the former hospital’s campus,” says the petition, which was created by longtime mental health advocate Martha Brock.
“Because of the need to protect the historic McBryde Building and the patients’ cemetery, there is a special need for intervention before the state of NC and the City of Raleigh allow the destruction of these important parts of the Dix Campus.”
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The McBryde Building is the main hospital building at the center of the site. While the planning process for the park hasn’t yet begun, city officials have said they’ll likely demolish some buildings on the property.
The petition stresses that a national monument designation “would not preclude the use of part of the campus for a city park.”
Gov. Pat McCrory has said proceeds from the $52 million sale will go toward mental health services.