Letters to the Editor

Dix Park shouldn’t be about the buildings on it

Dix Hospital’s central pavilion was demolished in 1951 and replaced by an outsized administrative complex, at the center of the hospital’s two long, narrow wings, one of which is pictured here. The hospital was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis on the brow of the park’s highest hill in 1856.
Dix Hospital’s central pavilion was demolished in 1951 and replaced by an outsized administrative complex, at the center of the hospital’s two long, narrow wings, one of which is pictured here. The hospital was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis on the brow of the park’s highest hill in 1856. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Regarding “Old hospital is pondered as Dix Park boutique hotel” (Aug. 26): It was a great accomplishment for the City of Raleigh to acquire the former Dorothea Dix Hospital property for the city, residents and visitors. But it appears that the professional hired planners are off on the wrong foot.

Dix Park is about land and not about the unremarkable buildings on it. The planning to date seems to be stuck on the idea that those scores of buildings need to be incorporated into the plan.

Converting the former mental hospital into a boutique hotel is ludicrous. That site is the centerpiece of the park and if not used as open space should be the home of an observation tower with a medium-priced restaurant. That hospital is not worth saving and, of course, it would cost a fortune to rehab it into a fancy hotel.

There are no architecturally significant buildings on the entire 308 acres. A few of the buildings could be converted to modern use. A childcare center would be appropriate, as would a museum interpreting the history of the mental hospital. An art center and working studio building – perhaps an extension of Artspace – could be included.

We do not need to force the use of any of those outdated buildings in the park master plan. Planners need to be focusing on amenities like an amphitheater, a conservatory and rose garden, a sculpture garden, open spaces, walkways and parking.

Lee Hansley

Raleigh

‘No action’

The intransigence of the power structure to moving the statue of a Confederate soldier known as Silent Sam dumbfounds me. Since 1965, students, professors and others have written letters, met with officials at the university and staged demonstrations asking that this statue be removed.

In February 2012, a coalition of students, professors and residents offered a compromise: Keep the statue in place, add a plaque about its history and erect another statue to honor a prominent African-American. Response: No action.

In 2015, cities talked about taking down Confederate statues following the massacre in Charleston. Response: North Carolina passed a law making it difficult to relocate Confederate statues.

In September 2017, students met with Chancellor Carol Folt to talk about moving the statue. Response: Folt says the 2015 state law ties her hands.

Protests continue. Response: UNC spends $390,000 to protect the statue.

In August 2018, Silent Sam is pulled off his pedestal. Response: Call for prosecution of those who took the action, ask for an investigation into the police response.

It is time to end the racial discord engendered by Silent Sam and relocate him.

Louise Lockwood-Zorowski

Raleigh

No pension

Regarding “After pleading guilty, Riddick to lose some pension” (Sept. 3): I am appalled after reading that former Register of Deeds Laura Riddick, who was convicted of embezzl ing almost $1 million from the state , is not only allowed work release but will still receive a huge portion of her pension.

She should be imprisoned with no release for a long time and every bit of her large monthly pension should go to another worthy North Carolina cause. She forfeited the right to even receive a penny after being convicted.

Annette Colton

Cary

Schools ‘suffocating’

Regarding “Giving end-of-year school tests can be as stressful as taking them. Help may be on the way.” (Sept. 1): The recent claims from state superintendent Mark Johnson gives false hope to those advocates, children and educators that have been shackled by the testing regime for decades.

Superintendent Johnson may be able to revise the handbooks, but the plan submitted by DPI to meet the demands of testing under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and the state’s Read to Achieve legislation makes the real and transformative changes impossible. Our entire paradigm needs to shift.

Our current focus on “performance” and “achievement” has led to the current crisis in the ability of our children and our workforce to benefit from exposure to interdisciplinary content that is so necessary and essential to a truly American education. Social Studies, U.S. and world history, the arts and sciences and opportunities for physical movement have been relegated to the backseat of a commercial bus, of which the first two-thirds are occupied by math and language arts, which are often taught without applications to the real world.

This is not because our educators are less qualified; it is because our policymakers fail to empower them or consult them on major legislative efforts that are now suffocating our schools.

Jennifer Bourne

Charlotte

  Comments