A Last Minute Coup Against Dix Park?
By Brent Woodcox
Not content to settle with just blocking any change in their own neighborhoods, NIMBY activists turned this week to halting the Dix Park Master Plan process throwing a tantrum over planned development in the city’s $52 million prized possession.
So after a year and half long public process with over 73,000 participants, dozens of public meetings and sign off from the Master Plan Executive Committee, a few disgruntled people want to completely throw out all the progress that has been made on this long term plan for Dix Park. Why? Simply because they didn’t get their way. And because they are scared to death of the word, “development.”
Apparently, the Dix 306 vision for the future of Dix Park is straight out of History Channel’s 2009 documentary series, Life After People.
But if the plan was going to be to let nature run its course in Dix Park, why on earth were Raleigh taxpayers asked to spend $52 million on this 308-acre tract of land in the first place. Just let the place be overrun with vegetation, undisturbed by highly scary developments like botanical gardens, walking trails and *gasp* buildings.
The only way this park can fail is if there is not a dedicated revenue stream to help support it. Raleigh taxpayers should not be on the hook for every dime of the cost of turning this land into a real park. And if they are, you’ll have political candidates rise up to challenge why this park and not my park? Charles Francis already raised those issues in the last campaign and he’ll be the first of many if we don’t figure out ways to fund the development/operations of Dix. I absolutely agree that the people who hold development rights in the park should have skin in the game. Personally, I favor requiring those people to be an active part of affordable housing solutions in the neighborhoods proximate to the park. But if we don’t leverage these opportunities to capture true value for the city from the development of the park, it will just happen on the outskirts and the city, as well as the park’s future visitors, will benefit far less from that arrangement.
But maybe that’s exactly what NIMBY activists want. They want to build a second rate park that will draw fewer visitors and provide fewer public spaces for members of the community to congregate together. So long as we aren’t meeting together, maybe we won’t get any crazy ideas like developing a non-profit co-working space or a brewery incubator in that space.
Dix Park should be a place with attractions and activities for all ages and all interests. It should be a park for the people. Demanding that it remain an undeveloped cow pasture is not a vision that is worthy of Raleigh’s future nor a good way to honor the park’s past.