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Gov. McCrory backs state House’s Dorothea Dix compromise

RALEIGH Gov. Pat McCrory announced his support Thursday for the compromise version of a bill to renegotiate Raleigh’s lease on the Dorothea Dix property.

McCrory said he wants to work with Raleigh to help create a destination park while ensuring that the state’s needs – such as an office complex on the Dix land – are still met.

“We’re trying to work out our differences through dialogue and consensus,” McCrory said in a news conference with Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

McCrory is throwing his weight behind a substitute measure that passed the House judiciary committee bill Wednesday. It would allow a year to renegotiate the agreement, signed by outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane in December, to lease the state land to the Capital City for use as a destination park. A new agreement could be a lease or sale of the land, and Raleigh would also get a chance to buy a second parcel from the state – the 40-acre Governor Morehead School property directly across Western Boulevard from Dix. The state would keep 30 acres to house the Department of Health and Human Services.

McCrory and House Republicans will still need to convince their colleagues in the Senate, whose original legislation called for throwing out the lease immediately. The three Republicans who sponsored that version of the bill said Wednesday they’re not backing the new language.

“We hope they all go along,” McCrory said.

McCrory and McFarlane still disagree on whether the original lease is valid, but Raleigh is willing to start new negotiations following appraisals and environmental assessments. “We know there’s a landfill, we know there’s asbestos and lead ... that will give us a hard number to work with,” McFarlane said Thursday, adding that she hopes that process will happen within six months.

McCrory said those appraisals will need to determine “what is the real fair market value.” Senate Republicans have argued the value is $84 million, which was determined by a state appraisal in 2011.

McCrory also supports the inclusion of the Governor Morehead property in the park plan. “I think there’s an opportunity to connect the Dix park with Pullen Park ... and the N.C. State campus,” he said. But there’s no plan yet to relocate the state’s School for the Blind, which has been there since 1923.

“We have not gotten to that point,” McCrory said.

Campbell: 919-829-4802 or twitter.com/RaleighReporter
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