Bonner Gaylord and the “Skinny High-Rise”

If you have been taking a break from the Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center drama you may not have heard that at Tuesday’s city council meeting, the decision to move forward on the project was delayed again. I highly recommend watching some of the debate, posted on-demand at the city’s website here.

The plans for the “skinny high-rise” of downtown, as Councilman Bonner Gaylord calls it, has been challenged. Now talks of an alternative plan, simply called Plan B, present a scaled down version consisting of multiple buildings spread across the city.

During the meeting, Councilman Gaylord tried to set the record straight on some misconceptions on the issue. Here are some that I thought were interesting.

  • Not the best location
    Gaylord argues that the building is located on the edges of Nash Square, a south facing side of it too. This very sunny, attractive side is more suited for public use and ground level activity, rather than a municipal building with very little public interaction.
  • The building is not a symbol for the city
    The councilman argues that the building, while looking great in the skyline, is not a symbol for the public because we would never interact with it. The Safety Center will have very few visits from the public and citizens will rarely use it.
  • The building design is a concern for employee safety
    Gaylord argues that the building design, with its two story public entrance, presents the opportunity for those with bad intentions to attack the building. With employees in a high-rise, damage to an important structural piece would threaten everyone inside.
  • No measurable benefit
    The councilman also states that no measurable benefit to our already great public safety can be measured or has been presented as a result of building the Clarence E Lightner Public Safety Center.
  • Job creation
    Jobs created by the construction are only temporary and are gone once the building is finished. Also, there is no guarantee the jobs will be local.

Mayor Meeker had something to say about each point after it was presented and watching him in action really shows you that he is 100% behind this project. Here’s his recent plan to get the building under way.

  • Postpone remote facilities, phase 2, of the expense. Lower priority then the Safety Center.
  • No tax adjustment in 2010.
  • $2.5 million from other sources in 2011.
  • 1/2 cent property tax increase in 2011, effective January 15th 2012.
  • Another 1/2 cent property tax increase in 2012, effective January 15th 2013.

Just for a comparison, the original tax increase was 3 cents over a five year period, a pretty solid decrease in my opinion.

The comments are open for opinions and debates, maybe some predictions on how this story will end.

Side note:
Quote from Bonner Gaylord:

In my experience, very few people even knew about the Clarence E Lightner Public Safety Center. I never heard anyone bring it up at all until it came before us in December.

Clearly, Councilman Gaylord doesn’t read any blogs:

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  1. Not sure where I fall on this issue. It’s obvious it’s not just Gaylord that has an issue with it. Do I like the way the building looks? Oh yes. Do I think now is the time to build it? not sure. I tend to think holding off for a year or two is not a bad idea.

    I’ve also wondered how such a building (mainly, its purpose) would compare to other cities. Would visitors be impressed or wary of a city with a 17-story public safety center?

  2. I agree with Meeker. Build it now, while costs are down. The city’s population continues to grow, and once we pull out of the recession completely, this area is going to see big changes. This building isn’t about the NOW; it’s about the future. Small, cheaper fixes are only going to cost more in the end. To me, having a 17-story public safety center means city officials are thinking ahead about city safety, and I would find that impressive.

  3. Bonner Gaylord is the epitome of that spoiled rich kid prep wearing duckheads and sebagos and croakies that I despised in high school. He obviously lacks experience to do his job. He embodies the party of ‘no’ as he play politics to boost his ego.

    Hopefully Meeker can find a way to get this passed and secure a good interest rate before they go back up in the next couple of years. Bonner Gaylord, good grief.

  4. Wow, I watched the city council meeting (Bonner is Pathetic). I would like to meet each individual who voted for this Bonner Brat (90% of what he said, was inaccurate).

    This ignorant kid is CLUELESS. He maybe worse than Crowder, just loves to hear himself talk. Can we impeach Bonner, Crowder and Odom (not only are they the “Three Stooges”, no, retrack, the “Three Stooges” were Proactive, Cutting Edge and Intelligent)?

    Build the building. These are the type of councilors that have kept Raleigh 20-30 years behind the times.

    I just meet someone who went to NC State, moved away, came back and left again. Late 20’s/early 30’s, she said nothing to do in Raleigh, too borng. I have been here for decades, love it, but she is right, nothing for the kids and our downtown is VERY BORING (all due to people like the above three)

    Where is mass transit, where is our warehouse district, the roads and sidewalks downtown are a joke. Tables next to curbs and parked cars, too many empty lots, too many parking surfaced parking lots. Campbell is downtown, with nothing around the building for the students to enjoy.

  5. Good posts above by Suzanne and Sardeenz. I agree.

    Sigh…Gaylord is an even bigger joke than his predecessor Isley. At least Isley and Odom are upfront about being reactionary ultra-conservatives in the true fashion of the “Party of No”. Gaylord, on the otherhand, likes to pretend he’s a more pragmatic, independent fresh modern councilor. Sorry kid, but you are not fooling anyone. I don’t buy into your unctuous manner.

  6. JeffS, I think Bobby was trying to point out that politics such as those at work to halt this project are the same that have hurt downtown for decades and that reversing the ‘no first’ mine-set (starting with approving this building) will help to right the ship and make downtown even more enjoyable/livable/workable.

  7. Maybe. Then again, someone might make the argument that perhaps these are the “other sources” that Meeker speaks of, whose funding is being cut to pay for the building.

    Looking back, this has to be one of the least objectionable projects Meeker has crammed down everyone’s throat.

  8. Could some of the center’s supporters refute Gaylord’s criticisms, rather than just attacking him?

  9. the fact is bonner gaylord and a lot of people in this city really lack vision. once again, only raleigh residents elect people like bonner who dont know anything about the city’s needs. yes the building is huge and shiny and it is needed now, the current facilities are over 50 years old and need to be replaced not renovated. you need a large facility so that the city can grow into it, you dont build a building that is new and of similar size to what you have now .the building will be outdated in another 5 to 10 years… again. you want a facility that will last raleigh another 30 years or so, its not hard to see this. this guy is a real embarrassment, seriously.

  10. One of the big ironies here is that Bonner’s father Richard Gaylord is a builder (albeit residential. if memory serves).

    The big issue for me (as a Raleigh native) is this: Raleigh is not the same. little town it once was; it is much bigger now and the population has grown immensely. The current Public Safety Center is out of date (not only is the building itself old but the equipment inside is old as well). We live in a great city (with low crime rates compared to many other places in the country) and that is partially because we have good Public Safety (good personnel, good response time and dedicated officers). Why would we not want to have the best and most current facilities for Public Safety? Good facilities=good employees=good morale=good service=safe population. It is a simple equation. As for computers, internet, phone systems, etc. can Bonner Gaylord and his other nay sayers really justify not upgrading the facilities for the 21st Century? We ARE 10 years into it, by the way. Yes, we do have to underwrite the building, but right now it seems that it will be more cost effective to build it. As for the “public art,” I have no problem with it as it will add to the image of the building. It makes no sense to keep building drab, boring public buildings when we could have architecturally dynamic ones (that also have some art in them and as a result some personality).

    As for public transit, that is a separate issue and one that should’ve been addressed 25-30 years ago (see the METRO in DC, which was built in 1976 for the Bicentennial and has overwhelming ridership. I didn’t even use a car when I lived in DC……METRO every day).

  11. i say build it. we will not have to chance to save as much in the future. we need to build for the future of the city. kind of like when shoe shopping for a baby, you buy them a size or 2 bigger so they have room to grow in them. if not, then you’ll be buy another pair soon cause they would have out grown them. the same goes for this building.

  12. I don’t know what sebagos are, and I don’t think anyone has worn duckheads since middle school, but I think Bonner is the best thing that has happened to Raleigh since the Beltline. It also should be pretty easy to find the people that voted for him since he recieved about 90% of them.

  13. I don’t know what sebagos are, and I don’t think anyone has worn duck heads since middle school, but I think Bonner is the best thing that has happened to Raleigh since the Beltline. It also should be pretty easy to find the people that voted for him since he received about 90% of them.

  14. Before some of you get too upset over this project, I recommend you read Bob Geary’s recent article in The Independent regarding the Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center. It is a very balanced presentation, IMO, although I find Bob’s opinion in conflict with mine 90% of the time. The title of the article is “Raleigh City Council fights over Lightner Public Safety Center”, if you want to look for it.

    There are many great points that Bob touches here and he states facts that should be known to all before we get into any heated debates. The only thing I do not think is possible is to put a residential/hotel tower in that corner. I would still be disappointed if this building is not built, but maybe we can find an alternative location that will serve us better, or maybe fund this project in a “smarter” fashion.

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