The purpose of the Friends of Dorothea Dix Park is to promote the
establishment and support of a "World Class Destination Park" in North
Carolina's Capital City on the Dorothea Dix campus, saving the existing
open space and preserving the historically significant buildings.
Justification for the Park
- Our poll showed 3:1 support for “All Park” for Dix vs. “Some
Development” & Park. The presentation for the 24 groups (200+ folks)
that came to the Urban Land design said 23:1 – No Development on the
Dorothea Dix Property (the one said well perhaps a little development
– but we really want a park). Our citizens have clearly said that we need
to protect our future and this is the place where we must and will
define our quality of life for future generations.
Triangle Business Journal poll, showed 71% prefer "All Park"
(a non-scientific poll of reader opinions From Feb. 14-20, 2007) Out of
1,103 total responses, nearly 71 percent, or 782 participants, said the
state should preserve the entire property as park land and open space.
- Raleigh’s Sacred Ground … it has been in the past for mental
health and in the future for everyone, rich & poor. It should become an
ethnic mixing ground, a place to learn, to imagine, to experience the arts
and a place of reflection. This Sacred Ground will define in the future “who
we are” and provide a place of refuge from and contrast to our frantic
- Think … 100 years from now when people reflect – who will care
about another mixed use / office complex / housing complex? When we think of
Central Park or Cape Hatteras National Seashore or the Blue Ridge Parkway
– we have a vision. On those remaining ‘306’ acres left of the
Dorothea Dix land, we need to create a vision for what we and the City can
become, like Central Park is to NY and the Boston Commons is to Boston …
what is it that people reflect upon? If you add that strip mall / office
park / condo complex into central park, on the seashore beside Hatteras or
along the Blue Ridge Parkway – is there still a sacred space.
- We must protect this small but critical remaining part of Dix land
as a destination park that can and will protect the ‘fabric’ of our
community – leaving to future generations a community treasure that will
last for ever. Those that want to put a strip mall on this land are not
visionary, they have not listened to the people and in their rush for
momentary, monetary profit, they are willing to forfeit the heart of our
destination park & the opportunity for an enlightened quality of life
for the region. Those that embrace the Urban Land Institute (ULI)
development plan of October 27, 2006 are not leaders, not listeners, not
visionary nor are they serving the future public good or present public
- By the year 2030 the Triangle will have 2.4 Million Residents, and in
North Carolina, 12 million.
- Great cities have great downtown parks. As a percentage of size,
Washington D.C., New York, San Diego, Boston, and San Francisco have the
largest amount of green space of all major US cities. Not coincidentally
they are the major urban tourist destinations in the U.S.
- North Carolina has the only opportunity left in the nation to simply
designate a 300 acre pastoral downtown jewel as a Park District. It would be
impossible to assemble an equally beautiful and suitable parcel of parkland
in the downtown of any other capital city. Dix Hill is essentially a park -
150-year old trees, historical significance, great lawns, historic buildings
and vistas of the capital.
- Other governments are buying developed acres to reclaim as parkland, not
selling parkland to develop. Atlanta spent $65 million dollars to obtain
just 21 acres for a downtown park. Bellevue, WA spent $14.4 million to
reclaim 20 acres for their downtown open space. Other locations have had to
reclaiming brown fields for their parks.
- Even though only 306 acres remain of the Dix property, there is the
potential for a great North Carolina central park. It is just large enough
to join the ranks of other great urban parks, Central Park is 843 acres and
Golden Gate Park is 1,017 acres.
- Most of the original Dix property has already been conventionally
developed. Eight-five percent of the Dorothea Dix property was transferred
to Centennial Campus and the Farmer’s Market and is currently being
developed as mixed-use. Of the more than 2,000 acres of the total Dix
property, only 15 percent of the property remains. The predicted population
alone speaks to the value of preserving all 306 acres of the remaining land.
- People will increasingly value open space in a crowded world and
appreciate the marvelous intricacy and variety of nature. People respect and
appreciate the legacy of land and the state leaders who set it aside.
- About a third of the property is unsuitable for development, consisting of
flood plains, an historic cemetery, and an old land fill used for soccer
fields. The remaining property is estimated by to be worth between $30 and
- The residual value of the property will be far greater if the state
preserves the entire 306 acre property. The measurable and intangible
benefits of urban open space makes preserving the land as a park the highest
and best use for the uniquely located land. The serenity of Dix Hill, along
with the opportunity to preserve a
significant historical site of unequaled beauty in the middle of the capital
city is in the hands of today’s leaders.
- The land is already park-like, and the buildings will require renovation
or demolition regardless of the land use.
- During the planning and fundraising the current use of the buildings can
continue. Some park authorities have found that green space is totally
supported by the increase in adjacent property values. If that is not the
case, a wise fiscal practice in park funding is to raise an endowment fund
to provide for continued maintenance as improvements are funded.
- Franchise operations such as restaurants can provide some funds. A park
can be alive and teeming with entrepreneurial activities such as markets,
coffee shops, cultural activities, and community events.
- The Dix property has multifaceted appeal with many potential sources for
fund raising from private donors, environmental, historic, educational and
- If we create a great urban destination park, the ‘306 acres’ could
easily generate over a $1,000,000 per acre per year in tourist dollars …
while the ULI development plan will generate $40,000 per year per acre. The
income from the park will not begin immediately. Great destinations parks do
not happen overnight – nor do great Cities.
- The economic impact of Dix Park is diverse - tourism, increased real
estate values, company location, health, and pollution control. Preserving
the Dix property for a park will create economic synergy with other state
initiatives – a link to statewide tourist destinations; a lure to the
“creative minds” relocating to Centennial Campus; a magnet to vital
urban development that will boost economic activity and state revenues.
Coupled with the 1.1 billion currently being invested in the downtown
capital it will enhance the image of the State’s Capital City.
- Repeatedly, surveys discover that business leaders seek quality of life
when relocating their workplace. Owners of small companies rank recreation,
parks, and open space a high priority in choosing a new location for their
- Green space is found to reverse the deterioration of downtowns. Parks are
one of the most effective methods available to change the character and
improve the image of a community.
- Travel and Tourism, at $13.3 billion is North Carolina’s second largest
industry annually, welcomes forty-nine million visitors drawn to our
cultural and natural resources.
- Heritage tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourist industry
and brings 30 percent more dollars than the average tourist trip into North
Carolina. Of special interest is that the heritage tourists’ primary
concern is preserving a destination’s “geographic character,” known as
“the entire combination of natural and human attributes that make one
place distinct from another” (National Geographic Traveler, 2002)
- Health studies show that contact with nature has medical benefits: lower
blood pressure and cholesterol levels; enhanced survival after heart attack
and surgery; fewer minor medical complaints and lower self-reported stress.
- Physically active individuals have lower annual medical costs.
- Atlanta’s trees remove 19 million pounds of pollutants at a value of $47
million annually. An estimated 1,800 premature deaths are caused by air
pollutants in North Carolina.
- The historic value ranges from Native American remnants, one of the first
land grants, a site for the assembly of the army during the Revolutionary
and Civil Wars, and one of the first public health issues that went to the
State Supreme Court.
- The conservative path is the most responsible decision. Once any part of this
wonderful unique land in the heart of the capital is developed, it’s lost
forever. North Carolina state leaders have a once-in-a-century opportunity to
leave a legacy. The serenity of the property should be preserved and this
historic site transformed in honor of Dorothea Dix into a place for reflection,
learning, culture, and physical activity. This natural progression will
incorporate preservation of the historic structures and landscape features used
treatment of mental illness while expanding upon Dix’s visionary ideas to
include wellness of the human body, mind and spirit. Preservation of the great
lawn, historic groves, the skyline, beautiful vistas, stands of mature trees,
and rolling hills is the highest and best use of the land. North Carolina
leaders have the opportunity to leave an irreplaceable legacy.
Preserve the Potential
- Designate the remaining 306 acres of the Dorothea Dix property as a Park
District. Knowing the land will remain a park will stimulate entrepreneurial
investments to create development nearby, increasing property values.
- Provide the time and the opportunity to engage world-class park planning
experts who, in collaboration with NC State University and other
stakeholders, will design a place of pride for North Carolina.
- Establish a governing body to oversee the process. Continue current uses
during the transition years.