RALEIGH, NC – Officials at Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Park are soliciting contributions as they finalize design plans for an 18-acre section of the park on Lake Wheeler Road.
Plaza & Play is part of Phase 1 of the Dorothea Dix Park Master Plan and includes fountains, play areas, and places to collect and eat. Some of those involved say the plans are similar to New York’s Central Park.
“So the vision is that this will be the gateway to the entire park, so to speak,” said Janet Cowell, President and CEO of Dix Park Conservancy. “There will be a place with a kind of fountain wall and an entrance where you can hold concerts or community events. Then there will be a really great playground for children and then there will be a swing terrace with a view of the skyline and it will sort of work out Set in the oak grove that overlooks Raleigh. There will be picnic areas and BBQ stations. So there really is something for all ages, kids to grandparents and families. “
Cowell also hopes this will boost the economy.
“There are so many opportunities for economic development through children’s museums, play areas, food halls, just through educational interactive experiences that make this a better community, but also invite local businesses and small businesses to be part of the park,” she says .
Nick Neptune is a Raleigh resident and a member of the Dorothea Dix Community Committee. He says Dix Park is one of his favorite places to go on a bike.
“The green, the trees, the land, the space, the view of the city center have always been inviting,” he says.
The park will be even more enjoyable in the near future thanks to advances in the Plaza & Play area.
“Whether you come by bike, whether you come on foot, whether you come in a wheelchair, this is a place you belong,” says Neptune.
However, many committee members believe that the country’s long and complicated past cannot be ignored or forgotten.
“It’s a story that goes from the aboriginal land to the plantation to this mental health facility and now to this park,” says Neptune.
Davis Paylor’s mother, Dolores, was a advocate for patient rights, so she knows that the ancient ways of treating mental health are controversial and that the story is often linked to the park.
“Because we’ve had generations that may have negative connotations about Dorothea Dix Hospital, now is the time to reconcile that,” he says.
Plaza & Play is a big endeavor, so those involved invite the public to have a say in the park’s plans that can help reclaim its future.
“This is our time to come forward and say, ‘This is a place of healing. This is a place of reflection,'” says Paylo.
The start of construction for Plaza & Play is in the summer of 2022, the opening is scheduled for 2024.
In the meantime, you can take a guided tour of the park to actually go through the suggested plans, and you can also provide comments online.