Dix Park Dreaming: Ideas run wild at public input forum

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Friday, November 17, 2017
Hundreds tout big ideas for Raleigh's Dix Park
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Hundreds came to the city's first public input forum on the master plan for the 308-acre mega parcel.

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- At Hunt Library on Thursday night, there were no bad ideas when it came to Dix Park.

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Roller-coaster? Sure.

A lake for swimming? Write it down.

All ideas were welcomed.

Inside the city's first public input forum on the master plan for the 308-acre mega parcel city leaders hope to transform into a world-class destination park, suggestions came from all corners. Many of them were scrawled across a white board.

One woman wrote, "A huge beautiful treehouse" as her suggestion for Dix. She'd also like to see an open-space restaurant with a rustic deck overlooking water.

Many wrote down original ideas. Others circled ones suggested by others.

John Bush, who lives in the neighboring Boylan Heights community circled his support for a pedestrian bridge over Western Boulevard.

Tonight was about dreaming big, and by the end of the evening, the whiteboard was packed with suggestions, a rose garden, a ballet hall, even a giant glass slide.

"Nothing's off the table," said Raleigh resident Sean Ingram who admits he raised an eyebrow about one person's idea to combat what could be new traffic tie-ups around the emerging park. "They was saying maybe we can airlift people into the park. Now I'll be honest, I thought that was a little off the wall. Like wow, that's crazy."

The master plan for Dix has been underway since the city finalized a deal to buy the land from the state for $52 million.

A team of Brooklyn architects has been drawing up ideas and designs in the months since, laying them to the Raleigh residents Thursday night with the help of a scale model illustrating what the land could become.

The planners outlined a main loop for runners and bikers along with four new major access points at each corner of the property. The entrances would aim to open up the massive piece of land that in its decades as a mental hospital and state office hub never felt all that welcoming.

It now needs a design that feels like a gateway from every corner of the city.

"What this (plan) does, is transform (Dix Park) into something that's just going from something that's a 10 to a 100. So it's amazing."

In the coming weeks, the city plans to put the scale model of the park on display at an available building on the park's property.

The master plan is scheduled for its final showing on February 29.

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