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1/8/19 City Council Statement by Joseph Huberman

Responsible Phasing of Dorothea Dix Park

I will explain why we need to appreciate the reconstructed Dorothea Dix landscape before making decisions about what else should be in the park.

I’m Joseph Huberman.  I live across the street from the park I’ve been advocating for Dix Park since I was appointed to the Legislative Study Commission in 2003 and am a founding member of both Friends of Dorothea Dix Park and Dix 306.

The Landscape is the soul of Dorothea Dix Park.  It is the foundation of its legacy.  

The Draft Master Plan contains many exciting proposals but it also has one glaring abomination, and that is the inclusion of revenue generating development that doesn’t serve the park visitor.  

It starts as early as Phase B and continues in both Phases C and D where, unbelievably, the Plan recommends revenue generating development along major portions of the Downtown Gateway along Lake Wheeler Road.

All the references to development that is not for park purposes should be stricken from the Master Plan.  

The default action of the plan should be “No private development”, there should be no discussion or negotiation regarding leasing Park property for private use without prior approval from City Council.  

Phase A of the Master Plan is a responsible way to proceed.  We recommend that Phase A is approved and begun while the Plan evolves in an open and transparent process.

The first priorities are rehabilitating Rocky Branch, expanding the Great Field, and creating a welcoming edge along Lake Wheeler Road.  This will take years, and during that time all of us will be working with the Farmers Market and NC State to develop synergies along those edges.  It’s also unrealistic to believe that the transportation needs of today will be similar to those in the future, so locating the roads, parking, and amenities, should respond to these changes. You, our children and I need a chance to experience the renovated landscape before we make these decisions.

We recommend that all references to Parking and Development be removed from the plan and reserved for future study.

During construction: We should use the existing infrastructure of roads and parking lots. We should add amenities like water fountains, picnic tables, and toilets.  We should continue active programming to serve the current park visitors, and we should remove buildings that serve no immediate park purpose.

We believe it is financially irresponsible to maintain a building of questionable use and value for years.

Only after Rocky Branch, the Great Field, and the edge along Lake Wheeler Road are complete should the Public and City Council,  through an open and transparent process, determine the next steps in the development of our World Class Dorothea Dix Park.

Reconstructing and appreciating the landscape before making decisions about what else should be in the park is the only responsible way to proceed.

(AS-1 Title)

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