The Dix dream nears reality

With a final deal between the city of Raleigh and the governor on the Dorothea Dix property close, the city must soon turn the page on contentious political maneuvering and determine what kind of park the property will become. Let’s have the citizens get a view of the future of the hillsides with the best view of Raleigh.

With N.C. State’s phenomenal design school and forestry program and environmental sciences resources, the Capital City’s leaders can get some of the best expertise around to noodle the park’s future.

The deal, which is somewhat threatened by a few cantankerous Republican senators who want to open the property for the highest bidder, has properly been reviewed by Gov. Pat McCrory, and the $52 million the city is paying is fair. The partisan spite against former Gov. Beverly Perdue, who did the original deal, ought to be in the distant past by now.

McCrory kept the park deal alive, and wisely so. This 308 acres will be a destination park, a central park, for the Capital City.

Raleigh residents and the tens of thousands of North Carolinians who visit their Capital City will enjoy the best view there is of the Raleigh skyline.

It’s time to stop talking about the park in a speculative tense. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane announced the deal in January, and now the governor’s office and the city expect to ink the final agreement by May 5.

All that’s required to make the deal final is a likely positive vote from the Council of State. But Republicans have a way of creating loopholes that allow them to interfere in a city-state transaction.

There are some flaws in the plan to undermine this deal, though. One, as local developer Greg Hatem noted, is that most developers aren’t going to invest tens of millions of dollars in property unless they can find a way to develop it in a dense way. That would mean rezoning. And rezoning has to be approved by, well, the City of Raleigh.

Senators who criticize the deal speak of the “best value.” But they’ve offered little evidence that the $52 million deal isn’t a good one or that the state is throwing away millions of potential dollars at that price.

Another flaw: The state House might not go along with a Senate move to interfere in the deal. The chamber’s appropriations chairman, Nelson Dollar of Cary, is on record as saying the deal “represents a fair agreement.” And House Speaker Tim Moore hasn’t so far been as quick on the right-wing ideological draw as some leaders.

It’s ironic that Senate Republicans said, when McCrory sort of put himself in charge of the deal, that they were “stepping aside.” Of course, they’ve always included a caveat that they’d have the option of changing their minds if they wanted a better deal.

Republicans have had a merry go of running the show in Raleigh, but the politics of mean eventually wears thin, without some reason going on the scale once in a while to balance it. The Dix property park represents such an opportunity. Republicans can take full credit for it. It could even be a positive legacy for them.

It’s time for the Dix dream to become a reality.