Raleigh: Dix Land Sale Hearing Gets Heated

One of the last acts former Democrat Governor Bev Perdue performed was a widely unpopular land give-away deal involving the Dorthea Dix Campus. Recently, North Carolina legislators have begun the process of undoing the deal.

The move to rescind the land deal has had mixed reactions, the pettiest reaction being that of Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin.

In a nutshell, Perdue sought to sell the land for a pittance in order to convert it to a ‘destination park’.

As a resident of the area, my initial reaction was that Perdue was out of her mind. The property alone is worth far more than her bargain basement price. The Dix campus is also host to various state offices, which would have to be relocated at an additional cost. That’s just for starters.

Then, one also has to factor in the location of the property — it is not in the best of neighborhoods and is flanked by Central Prison. Yes, that screams ‘destination park’ material to me.

That’s not even mentioning that just miles away is the newly renovated Pullen Park and various other properties that the taxpayers are now on the line for.

More via AFP:

“This is a billion-dollar giveaway of taxpayer resources to Raleigh elites for another state taxpayer funded cultural amenity. State taxpayers have already provided the residents of Raleigh hundreds of millions of dollars for the State Museums of Art, History, and Natural Sciences, the PNC Arena, the North Carolina Symphony – not to mention three state parks with lands inside of Wake County. In addition Wake County has eight parks and natural areas, while the City of Raleigh has more than 200 city parks,” said Dallas Woodhouse, director of AFP-NC. “This is a horrible deal for state taxpayers – the real owners of the property.”

The land deal has its proponents, however.  Such proponents as Mayor Nancy MacFarlane:

Park boosters and city officials have labeled the project a “destination park” similar to those in Atlanta and New York that will also preserve green space and boost the quality of life in the fast-growing Triangle. They say a smaller park – perhaps 200 acres – won’t fit their plans.

“We have a contract with the state of North Carolina – a legitimately negotiated, signed, sealed, delivered contract – and they have a moral obligation to fulfill their contractual duties,” Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said. (Source: Star News Online)

MacFarlane doesn’t stand alone, beside her is a figure gaining more attention these days — Capitol Broadcasting owner, Jim Goodmon.  It is worth noting here that Capitol Broadcasting owns the local media outlet, WRAL.

Goodmon is wearing many hats these days, from dodging his charities affiliation with the scandal-plagued BluePrint NC, to heading up a group called ‘Dix Visionaries’.

Goodmon took MacFarlane’s complaint a step further, in what could be seen as a veiled threat. The Sergeant-at-arms had to intervene to break up the argument between Goodmon and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca.

Goodmon’s own WRAL reports, smartly noting, upfront this time, Goodmon’s role in their organization:

Sergeants-at-arms and the committee chairman had to intervene in a confrontation between a lawmaker and a witness.

The witness was Jim Goodmon, who came to the committee to testify on behalf of Dix Visionaries, a group of local business and community leaders who’ve been raising money to develop the property as a park. Goodmon is president and Chief executive of Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent company of WRAL-TV and WRAL.com.

Goodmon warned the committee in blunt terms that reneging on the Dix contract will brand the state as an unreliable partner for other business development.  

“We have a lease, and you guys are backing out on the lease,” Goodmon said. “What lease are we going to not do next?

“The notion that you can come in and take a lease, just say, ‘Well, we – nope, we’re not going to do it – is remarkable. I mean, you should hear yourselves saying that,” he said. “There’s no business person in this state that would agree with you with what you’re doing.

“Why am I going to do a deal with you, if you just do a lease and just decide you don’t like it?” he said. “Tell me why people are supposed to trust doing business with the state. You can’t.” 

Video of Goodmon can be found at WRAL.

Apodaca responded he felt threatened:

“I feel like we’ve been somewhat intimidated by the press here today with the comments made by Capitol Broadcasting,” Apodaca, R-Henderson, said hotly. “I will not be threatened at the General Assembly. That is wrong.”

Goodmon returned to the public microphone to respond, but Apodaca cut him off, rising out of his committee seat, moving toward Goodmon as if to confront him. 

“I felt threatened by you, sir, when you said your ownership of Capitol Broadcasting,” Apodaca continued. (WRAL)

Video of Apodaca’s comment’s can be found at WRAL.

The website seemingly tied to ‘Dix Visionaries‘ is called Dix306! and displays a similar message to the one Goodmon delivered in the hearing. The main page displays a call to action for Monday the 25th that is entitled: Doing Business With The State Of NC? … Better Reconsider!

In other words, nice state economy you have there…would be a shame if anything happened to it.

You know, something like a broadcasting owner using his resources to wage a smear campaign to get his way and keep the state on the hook for a bad deal done by Bev Perdue.

The post also included instructions to dress in green and the contact information for all legislators and officials involved. Something to bear in mind with this ‘Dix Visionaries’ group, it’s headed up by Gregory Poole.

That’s the same Gregory Poole who stands to make a lot of money from the development of the land as he claims he doesn’t want developed. Someone has to do the heavy lifting and you can bet it would be his outfit, seeing as it is one of the largest equipment outfits in the Southeast. Various actors have been chomping at the bit to get their hands on this property for some time now — going back to 2006.

Perhaps this was Perdue’s attempt to secure a legacy, but it’s a financially irresponsible one. More likely it was a parting gift to loyal supporters. It’s probably no coincidence that Goodmon is being so vocal since this property deal of Perdue’s lies directly adjacent to the WRAL Broadcasting station in Raleigh.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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2 Responses to Raleigh: Dix Land Sale Hearing Gets Heated

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