Berger calls Perdue plan for Dix campus a 'stunt'

The Dorothea Dix campus from the air.
November 27, 2012 2:55:56 PM PST
Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger labeled Governor Perdue's reported plan to lease the campus of the former Dorothea Dix mental hospital to the City of Raleigh for a public park a "stunt" Tuesday.

"Having failed for four long years to advance her agenda, Gov. Perdue is desperately trying to create a last-minute legacy at the expense of North Carolina taxpayers," said Berger in a news release.

"It is a shame that in the first few weeks after a very heated campaign season, that some of North Carolina’s leaders continue to try to divide people by political party and not bring people together," Perdue fired back.

According to the Raleigh News and Observer newspaper, Perdue is expected to present her plan to the Council of State as soon as next week.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane told the paper she'd like to see the deal done before Perdue leaves office January 5.

The plan reportedly calls for new offices for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and a large urban public park close to downtown.

The Dorothea Dix hospital closed last year after housing patients for 150 years. Various estimates of the value of the property put it between $35-60 million.

Republicans have said the decision on what happens to the property should rest with incoming Governor-elect Pat McCrory and the Republican controlled Legislature.

"I urge the Council of State to be the 'adults in the room' and reject her hasty plan to hand over a valuable state asset with little in return," said Berger.

House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) echoed Berger's sentiments.

"The Dorothea Dix campus is a historically valuable state asset, and the future of the property should be thoroughly vetted through the legislative process. Rather than rush this decision through the Council of State, we should work together to determine if this is the best path forward. If this proves to be a good idea today, then it will be a good idea weeks from now," he offered.

Perdue said her plan to consolidate state office space and create a park would save taxpayers money.

"[It] would save taxpayers nearly $100 million, move employees from 60 separate facilities into five buildings on one campus, and it would preserve green space in a metropolitan area that is expected to grow by more than 1 million people in the next 10 years," she said.

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