Council Decides Today On Safety Center [1/19 Update]

Today is a day for the downtown skyline fans as the proposed public safety center, named after Mayor Clarence E. Lightner, is put in front of the Raleigh City Council for approval. A ‘yes’ vote comes with a tax increase later on even though the price tag has fallen some due to the slow economy. A ‘no’ vote will probably send the project back for re-evaluating and some expected cost cutting. Its a tough call but investment in the city’s safety needs, those that are planned to grow over the next few decades, should not be cut too short.

Read these N&O articles as a prerequisite, from where the above rendering is from, and stay tuned to your favorite news source later this afternoon to find out what happens.

Photo Galleries | Proposed Raleigh Public Safety Center 12.21.09

A new public safety center and higher taxes? Raleigh city council decides tomorrow 01.04.10

The decision was delayed. See you in two weeks.

The Raleigh City Council received information about the Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center at its meeting on Jan. 5. No vote was taken. Council members will resume discussion of the project at its next meeting on Jan. 19.

[1/19 Update]

A lot of new talk in the last two weeks has been about the almost $700,000 for the art pieces in the new building. This amount comes from the 0.5 percent of funds required to be allocated to art in new public buildings. This was passed about a year ago. The new safety center is estimated to cost $140 million. Double check the math but 0.5 percent of that is where the $700,000 comes from.

With that said, there are a couple points I want to mention.

First, I believe that there is something to be said about pride in a workforce. I believe that highly rated facilities and workspaces can really influence the morale of those working inside. I also believe that when looking for new, experienced talent that hiring this workforce can produce better results when there is something to proud of. The art as part of the safety center project has a part in that pride and maintaining morale.

At the same time, I do not believe it is unreasonable for the planners to provide a cost/benefit report of ALL public buildings. Morale and pride are hard to measure so you will not see this in any report. There has to be some kind of balance between getting the job done with the absolute bare minimum and approving Picassos for the showers on the top floor. What would you rather have; a council that provides its safety force the right tools for the job or one that provides the tools and expects the job done with what is provided? The naysayers on the council need to provide evidence that there is excess in the safety center’s plan in order to convince me otherwise.

Another point I want to bring up is the very fact that the $700,000 is being questioned. 0.5 percent of funds on all new public buildings will go towards art. That rule was passed. Done and done. You talked the talk now walk the walk. How can some members of the council simply renege this requirement just because it is a down economy? If the 0.5 percent art commitment is dropped, what other things will be dropped? What kind of example is this setting for future developments?

A compromise is more appropriate in order to get the $700,000 worth of art in the building. Why not agree for it to be bought at a later date or be purchased in small increments over several years. In my opinion, a compromise because of the current economic state is fair but dropping it completely shows a weakness in the council to ‘stick to its guns’.

Just your average citizen’s opinion.

If you want some additional reading before the discussion by the city council today, consider these reads:

The recent call by Wake Republican Party chairman Claude Pope for a referendum on the construction bonds for the proposed $205 million Lightner Public Safety Center in downtown Raleigh met with resistance from the mayor and city manager. “This decision is about public safety, not politics” Mayor Charles Meeker said.

via Let the voters decide on debt – News –

Cutler said between 1,800 and 3,900 jobs would be created by the construction, factoring in contractors and builders, as well as indirect employment from services such as coffee and food.

via Raleigh Public Record » City Council Featured News » Council hesitant over the Lightner center.

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  1. This facility needs to be built. Public Safety is a top priority. Here we go with the usual suspects (Crowder, Odom) sending us back 20-30 years with their caveman thinking. The current facility is a joke, this needs to be approved today (with one change, street friendly building with sides facing streets, cannot have a blanl wall across the street from that ugly AT&T building).

    Vote yes to this facility for our kids continued future safety (you listening Crowder and Odom, enough of your waste of tax payer studies and public input). Our safety is worth a few more dollars.

  2. Looking for alternatives to an 8% property tax increase during the worst economy since the Great Depression – how is that sending us back 20-30 years? How is that caveman thinking?

    Personally, I like to see my representatives doing some due diligence before signing big checks with taxpayer money.

  3. Growing how? Vertically? With new buildings? Why don’t we just plan 2 buildings and make it a 16% increase. I like to see my city grow as well, but I’d like it to be from businesses moving downtown and creating private sector jobs.

    (For the record, I’ve voted Democrat in the last several elections, locally and nationally.)

  4. yo they need to vote YES to this damn thing. odom and crowder are a couple of losers who need to be fired from the council immediately. what the hell have they ever voted yes for in downtown!? crowder voted no for the convention center, rbc tower, and marriott. why are these people on city council… who the hell voted for these clowns? only raleigh votes for people who are uninterested in downtown development in any other city these two guys would have never got elected ever! how can you turn this down when the damn POLICE CHIEF EVEN SAYS HE NEEDS ANOTHER FACILITY? man o man. cmon people a tax increase is worth it def!

  5. A commitment to Public Safety such as this will bring businesses into the downtown districts.

    Safety is a top priority for citizens considering any area. Citizens are a top priority for any business deciding where set up shop. Citizens are the individuals that start new businesses in the area.

    We are looking for wholesome, healthy growth in Downtown Raleigh, and I believe that it starts with infrastructure that supports the people. If you object to a possible tax increase that would support the Health and Safety of Raleigh, then you should look back at what some tax increases have supported in the past.

    We have a choice to follow the paths of other cities before us, or learn from their decisions and apply the most successful choices to our growth.

    Take a poll.. Which large city model would work best for Raleigh now, in 2010?

    I understand needing more time to make decisions, but show up to the ‘decision date’ with your homework done. That is why you were elected.


  6. Completely agree with Captain. This is not a project that should go to a public vote (the republican party pushing for a referendum should just go away (and I am a republican)). JUST BUILD IT! Enough politics and stalling on these projects that are the foundation of our city. “Safety is a priority, no questions asked.”

  7. Thomas, I think you are missing the point here. The problem is not the building but its price tag and the terms of financing. When you hear that art displays will cost over $700,000 (if I heard right) then you begin to wonder what else we should consider removing. Yes, I want to see this building going up, because we need it and because I like it. In fact, I wish it could be twice as tall, but that is not the issue. Money is the issue and what skeptics are afraid is what will happen in the future, when other needs will dictate the allocation of resources. How much of that we can sustain?

    BTW, this is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. There are people from both sides who oppose building the safety center ASAP. As I said before, I would hate to be in the shoes of the decision makers because I understand the need for this building, but I would also hate to see taxes being raised at a time when every penny counts. We are talking about over $200 million, not $200,000. In other words, no need to be upset over this delay, or blame anyone. At the end, this building will be built, but we need to do things right and “trim the fat” wherever possible.

  8. why do i get the feeling they wont vote on it today and why do i get the feeling this building wont get passed the way it is now and that they will downsize the building like they do everything else in dt raleigh construction projects? raleigh needs some real city planners like in other large cities not these little local country pumpkins!

  9. I agree with laryea. The vote will most likely be delayed for another 2-3 months. However, it is better to take another look at the costs and find ways to pay for this [much needed] project, than reducing it in size, or cancelling it altogether. This is exactly the kind of public safety center that will help Raleigh not only deal with its current issues, but also assist the city’s law enforcement agents to prevent future troubles as Raleigh grows larger. The price tag will remain a thorn, and so will the suggested way of financing this project. Tough decision, but this is where city leaders have an opportunity to prove they are worth their salt. Get a little creative, without burdening the tax payers any more than they have been burdened already.

  10. If this building is not built now, and with all the already planned facilities and features it ought to have, the city will regret the decision for many decades to come.

    If it is cut in size and the ammenities needed to do the job of public safety correctly, it will be more than a half-century before all the resulting wrongs can be made right. And Raleigh will again be playing catch-up. Makiing do with a pale imitation of what is needed will be shameful. It is not frivilous spending — it is anything but that.

    As for the public art, it’s the law that it be included. How ironic if we break the law for a building devoted, in part, for enfocing our laws. And it is such a tiny percentage of the cost. We are a civilized ( we hope) people and for thousands of years, civilizations have recognized the value of their art.

    This johnny-come-lately protest should be squelched and recognized (or better, ignored) as the non-issue it is.

  11. Eyenstine is right; we can’t go back on a law we decided was awesome last year. Perhaps the plans can be scaled back, but we should build it now as part of our future. As a city grows, it costs more to live there. The police need a good facility not just for today, but for tomorrow, as the city continues to grow and technology continues to change.

    Waiting will only make it more expensive.

  12. Wow! you guys would rather abandon the city’s needs to save $60 over 5 years. We always talk about improving the city, but not willing to do what is necessary. I’m all for building it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s a major upgrade to current facility, adds to skyline, and it will increase the density in downtown. We are going to continue to lag behind every other big city.

  13. There is no waste designed for that building. And Raleigh will continue to grow — the critical mass for growth being long ago reached. And if the building is not built to accomodate growth (as it is designed to do), it will only result in future, ragtag attempts to make do. And that will only interfere with the critical mission of protecting public safety. The ignorant approach that the building should be “scaled down” at this time will hurt this city if followed. Now is the time time make good use of the lowered costs of building supplies. It’s likely the only chance we’ll have to get the building that will fulfill the need in superb fashion.

  14. A handful of thw highly-placed, representative of those who were anti DTR progress for years, would condemn the Safety Center. They call for a referendum, likely for a low-turnout primary. It’s the loud anti-whatevers that will be heard and likely carry the day. But there is no need for a referendum. We’ve elected city councilpeople to represent us. Let them do their job.

  15. I hope all you good folks who post in favor of the Public Safety Center are letting City Council members know what you think they should do.

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