Raleigh back to square one on safety center

April 13, 2010 3:35:16 PM PDT
A Raleigh City Council subcommittee met Tuesday to take up the issue of the proposed Lightner Public Safety Center.

After spending millions on the design, Mayor Charles Meeker hasn't been able to get a majority of city council members to vote to go ahead with construction of the building that was to be the home of the police department and other emergency services. Now, the subcommittee will pick a consultant to look again at where it should be built, what it should look like, how much it should cost, and what security concerns should be addressed.

"I think those are questions that should have been asked four years ago, not at the 11th hour," offered Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin.

Baldwin, who was on the city council four years ago, was visibly upset at Tuesday's meeting that the council is essentially starting over.

"I don't think we should have to go back to square one, quite frankly," she said.

But that's exactly what's happening.

"It's extremely frustrating to have spent so much money as a city, but at the same time, we can't look back. We've got to move forward in the best way we know how," offered Councilman Bonner Gaylord.

So what will moving forward mean?

One, the subcommittee has to choose an independent someone who will choose the consultant the city will hire. And two, it must figure out what questions that consultant will have to answer.

"As to whether this building should be split up into two or three pieces, whether it should be located in an urban setting or in a more remote setting," said Meeker.

Baldwin was unhappy with the whole affair.

"If we're going to spend another 100-150 thousand dollars in taxpayer money to do the same thing that we've already done, that doesn't make sense to me," she said.

But with the council deadlocked, the push for a new public safety center needs a push, and the hope is an independent outside assessment of what would be best for Raleigh will help jump-start the project all over again.

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