Mission Statement
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.

News & Observer Letter to the Editor

By Joseph Huberman

Your headline "Meeker champions park at Dix " could just have honestly read "Meeker champions 2,000 unit subdivision and 1.2 million sq/ft office park at Dix" the sub head could be “Park is given un-buildable floodplain and hillsides”.

While the ULI team proposed a governance structure and funding plan that have merit, they dropped the ball on their land use plan.

We were promised that the ULI team would look at the big picture, but that is not what they did. They kept a narrow focus on the undeveloped state owned property and did nothing substantially different from the previous development proposals except to make the developments bigger.

We need to take a larger view. Look at the surrounding neighborhoods. Look at the under used property right on the Dix borders. A great park will increase the value of that land so that development will naturally flow to it, and the financing plan the team suggested will work in the adjacent areas as well. The narrow plan that ULI suggested turns its back on the neighborhoods along most of the privately held land suitable for development, and that is the land along Lake Wheeler Road that in the ULI plan is separated from the park by a suburban development and an office park.

If there is one thing that Raleigh doesn't need to do with its last opportunity to build an urban park of the stature of NY's Central Park, it is to build another office park, shopping center, and housing development along the I-40/440 corridor. For proof of that, just look five miles on either side of the Lake Wheeler and Gorman Street exits.

What the City, State, and University can do, is leverage the park as an economic engine to improve and develop the properties around it. The same Tax Increment Financing (which does not increase the tax rate on anyone) can be used to raise money to fund the Mental Health Trust Fund, support the building of the great park and restoration of the historic structures. The same DHHS office rental funding stream that ULI suggested will work on offices built on a more compact footprint or in a more appropriate location. If that location turns out to be adjacent to existing services, it will save the huge expense of building infrastructure on virgin land.

Raleigh is on its way to becoming a world class city, what ever that means! Well one of the things that means is that it has a signature world class park.

That said, the ULI plan can be the framework to build the park, offices and residences as well as jump start the economic engine to begin the Mental Health Trust Fund.

With the political will and within the ULI framework the citizens, governments and university can:

  • Restore the historic core respecting the "sense of place" described in the National Historic Register and maintain the scale of the open space between buildings.
  • Include public amenities that park visitors appreciate within the historic core and among the buildings used for offices by DHHS and others.
  • Develop an urban core with the capacity suggested by the ULI team, but with a small footprint for the dwellings, shops, and offices, creating a walkable spacious urban community.
  • And finally, we won't settle for the third class goal of a LEEDS silver rating, but will create a true 21st  century model with the help of the NCSU urban design department that will be the envy of every city in the world -- a sustainable multi-use development with no less than a Platinum rating.

Joseph Huberman

Member of the Dix Study Commission
Member of the Board of Director for the Friends of Dorothea Dix Park
Past member of the Raleigh Parks and Greenway Advisory Commission
Past member of three Raleigh Park Master Plan Committees