Little known fact for anyone interested in transparency in government or in Gov. Bev Perdue’s Hail Mary pass for a touchdown, as she leaves office: leasing Dix Hill for a park. I have been doing some research and calling usually well-informed sources about a section of a story that appeared in the N&O on Dec. 3rd.
It told of another plan for the use of the Dix Campus that would actually have benefited those with mental illness. (You know--those folks for whom the Dix Hill was created in the first place?) But I came up empty in finding out the whole story.
Matt Garfield wrote the story referencing NCSU's plans, and he brought up a plan that would have created a Mental Health Think Tank as well as a park and a Center to promote entrepreneurship. Sounded good to me. Unfortunately, it was not reported in the media until after the plans were cancelled at the last minute.
“The sweeping plan involved the state giving the property to the university at no cost to establish a park, mental health think tank and an ‘innovation village’ to promote entrepreneurship on the grounds.
The arrangement required the establishment of a separate corporate entity, spun off the NCSU endowment and an independent board of directors in conjunction with the city.
The deal got so close that Perdue aides set an announcement date for Oct. 25 and a Council of State vote for Nov. 1.
The university saw a stake in the plan, given the property’s proximity to its Centennial Campus. But as the plan neared its final negotiations, the university backed out.
‘The university felt the benefits to N.C. State were not clear and the potential financial risks were too great,’ spokesman Fred Hartman said in a statement. The university declined to discuss the deal in further detail…” (emphasis added)
Now, usually when the folks at the N&O get a “no comment” on an important issue, they have their attorneys file a public records request. They do so fairly frequently. There has not been any mention of that in the case of the Dix Hill transaction. So, I have taken it upon myself to ask why NC State University pulled out.
Could it be that the pesky environmental hazards (that John Odom mentioned in his vote at Raleigh City Council) scared NCSU officials away from a deal? If not that, what?
So, I sent friendly information requests to the media office at NC State and to the Deputy Media Director for Gov. Perdue, Chris Mackie. Two days later and still no response at all from NCSU.
However, Chris Mackey replied to my second email request for public information with, “I received your message.” No substantive answer, and this riled me up enough to post this to Blue NC. I have a friend who is an attorney and has offered help with a formal public records request.
Stay tuned. Definitely will be posting more in the future.