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The Latest Updates on Planning the Park

Video: Fans of outer space braved the cold at Dix Park in Raleigh on Wednesday night to get a peek at the Geminid Meteor Shower.
If you ever have the chance to tour the land that could become America’s next great public park with senior City of Raleigh planner Kate Pearce, count yourself lucky, but don’t expect a leisurely stroll. These 307.9 acres – the grounds of the former Dorothea Dix Hospital – are just too big, and she’s got too much to tell you about what they were, are, and will become. A tour of Dix with Pearce is a workout, a history lesson, a colloquy on community; it’s a treasure hunt, an adventure, and a peek into the future.
Dix Park. For a while, it was a dream, and then, thanks to volunteer enthusiasts led by Greg Poole Jr., it edged toward reality, and then political disputes with Republicans on Jones Street seemed to threaten to return it to dreamland. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, long a park advocate, worked hard to move that dream along, and now, with Raleigh having bought the park for $52 million from the state, the planning process for the park has begun.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane will be traveling to India next month to visit the Dalai Lama --- and she wants to take Raleigh residents with her, at least spiritually. The mayor will be presenting His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama with Tibetan prayer flags. Residents are invited to come out to Dix Park Sunday to write a prayer on the flag and sign it. The prayer flag will also serve as an invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit Raleigh.
The Raleigh City Council today unanimously approved the selection of world-renowned Landscape Architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to lead the creation of a comprehensive master plan for Dorothea Dix Park.
Since Dorothea Dix Hospital was shut down by the state in 2010, suggestions for what to do with the 308-acre property have been wide-ranging and thick on the ground. But nearly everyone can agree that if Dix must remain closed, at least part of the land should be given over to commemorate the hospital and the thousands who lived, worked and sought treatment atop Dix Hill.