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MCAC Response to Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center Discussion

posted Apr 30, 2011, 8:59 PM by Reid Serozi   [ updated Jul 6, 2011, 6:14 PM ]
Update! July 2011

The Mordecai Historic Park Master Plan amendment to locate the proposed Interpretive Center will not be on the agenda for the Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board meeting in July. The Board will not act on the master plan amendment at their July meeting. The proposal to locate the interpretive center on the Square near Wake Forest Road is currently on hold while the project team is assessing other potential alternative locations. Staff hopes to provide an update to the Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board this fall. When the project team is ready to present the additional information, public notification will be disseminated via mail, email and on-site signage.

For questions and information, please contact Shawsheen Baker, 996-4782, Thank you.


Dear Community,

In response to recent discussion about the Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center Discussion on the MCAC Google Group and the Historic Oakwood Neighborhood Yahoo Groups, the MCAC Leadership team has prepared the following informative document to provide a means for citizens and neighborhoods to participate in the city’s decision-making process.

Project Information

Project Activity
  • October 2010 - Master plan amendment kick-off, programming, analysis, alternative site concepts
  • November 2010 - Public meeting 
  • January 2011 - Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board review and public meeting 
  • June 2011 - Raleigh Historic District Commission review and Certificate of Appropriateness approval
  • June 2011 - Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board review and public meeting (NO VOTE)
  • July/August 2011 - Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board review and public meeting (VOTE)
  • ??? 2011 - City Council review 
  • ??? 2011 - Master Plan amendment finalization and adoption

Mordecai CAC involvement

  • The Mordecai CAC's involvement in facilitating the approval process of the interpretive center has been limited. The November 2010 public hearing was held independent of a MCAC meeting, and we have not received an official request from the City or from MCAC residents to address the interpretive center proposal.
  • The Mordecai CAC's primary involvement has been communicating and making residents in the community aware with the information provided. In conjunction to the City of Raleigh public hearing notice (postal mailings) to attending the public hearing. The Mordecai CAC notified residents to attend the November 2010 public hearing by email announcement, CAC newsletter, November CAC Meeting and CAC website.

During the October and November CAC Meeting, Shawsheen Baker, City of Raleigh Parks architect provided a brief update about the interpretive center. In the October meeting she addressed the issue of the original site across Mordecai Drive and other adjacent sites as becoming problematic. She indicated that the center would probably need to be constructed on the park site itself. At the November, Shawsheen made the following announcement which was recorded in the minutes as follows:

Shawsheen Baker gave some information about the new Mordecai Interpretive Center, which is part of the approved 2007 bond program. The architect Clearscapes has been chosen. The conceptual plan will be presented at a meeting held in the downstairs meeting room of Trinity United Methodist Church, 824 N Bloodworth Street on November 30th at 7 pm. All are welcome to attend. Shawsheen asked the CAC to comment on her plan to ask the City for a variance to the road right of way which has been widened due to Wake Forest Road's designation as a major thoroughfare. Concerns were raised that this widening of the right of way might indicate a widening of Wake Forest Road. Shawsheen didn't know the answer so Philip Bernard, traffic chairman agreed to contact Eric Lamb in Public Works, find out more information, and report back to the group.

At the November meeting, Shawsheen confirmed that the center was being proposed to be on the park site itself. At that time, no one seemed alarmed about the center, the necessity of the center was not questioned. The only concern noted was the question of why the right of way along Wake Forest Road had been widened. The biggest fear voiced was that Wake Forest Road could possibly be widened. Philip Bernard Traffic Chair was not aware of any proposals to widen Wake Forest Road but contacted Eric Lamb with City staff who confirmed there were no plans to widen Wake Forest Road.

Because the community meeting was held independent of a CAC meeting, and we have not received an official request from the City or other entity to address the center's proposal and provide input, there hasn't been any follow up in our CAC meetings re: the project since Shawsheen announced the public meeting in November. It was generally perceived that the community meeting and any other public meetings would supercede any further action by the CAC.

Site Plan Clarification

Previous information on the Mordecai CAC website reflects the summary of the November public hearing to select the "buildable" site
location for the Interpretive Center. 

The actual site plan, building permitter, was not within the scope of the public hearing. It was communicated during the public hearing that the actual site plan (foundation) would be somewhere within the 6,500 sqft "buildable" location and shared at a later date. The size of the center was communicated as being 5,000 sqft. See the meeting minutes from the November public hearing.

On April 29th, The MCAC became aware of an approved site plan for the Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center from the Mordecai Historic Parks Board March Meeting. The MHP Board and Raleigh Historic Commission had reduced the original 5,000 sqft  building footprint within the "buildable" location that was communicated to residents at the November 2010 public hearing.

The new approved site plan (see image to right) from the MHP Board will be voted on by the Parks, Recreation And Greenway Advisory Board on Thursday, May 19th at 5:30 PM at the Jaycees building on Wade Avenue.

Residents meet at the Park for Q&A

Sunday, May 1st, a number of members of the community met with Shawsheen Baker (Raleigh Parks and Rec, project manager),  Troy Burton (site manager, Mordecai Historic Park), and members from Clearscape (the architectural firm contracted to develop this project)  to discuss the vision, and history of the path towards development of a visitors center at the Mordecai Historic Park. The meeting was brought about  largely due to neighborhood concerns about the need, and the scope of the project.

It was clarified that the proposed center would be much smaller than the was understood by the community previously at the November 2010 public hearing. The actually building design has not been proposed yet, but after serious site review of 7 proposed sites, the currently proposed site would be a narrow building along the northern portion of the park along Wake Forest Road, in such a way as to minimize the impact on the green space of the park.

Feedback and Q&A's. Get Involved

Past Communications to residents from the MCAC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Reid Serozi <>
Date: Tue, May 17, 2011 at 8:00 AM
Subject: MCAC: Today's City Council Meeting regarding the proposed Interpretive Center at Mordecai Historic Park
To: Mary-Ann Baldwin <>, Russ Stephenson <>, Eugene Weeks <>
Cc:, "" <>,

Dear Mary-Ann Baldwin, Russ Stephenson and Eugene Week,

Please read before Today's (May 17) City Council Meeting, regarding requests and petitions of citizens #2 - page 21: "Gail Wiesner, Historic Oakwood, would like to present opposition to a proposed new building at Mordecai Park and request the Council to stop the

As leaders of the Mordecai CAC, we would like to inform you that there has been concern among some of our CAC members about the proposed interpretive center at Mordecai Historic Park.

While we’ve received brief updates about the center in our CAC meetings and a neighborhood information session held on November 30, 2011, some of our members are still concerned about the need for and location of the center on the park site itself. As a CAC, we have not been asked to vote on the center, therefore we do not “officially” know how many of our members are for or against the project at this point.

Due to our summer meeting schedule and according to our bylaws, we would not be able to vote on the project until the fall if indeed a vote is needed at this point in the process. We are suggesting that our members attend the next public meeting on June 16th of the Parks Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board to find out more information and express their concerns.

At this point, we respectfully ask that City Council examine all options associated with the adjacent “spring lots” owned by the City and CAP. We also ask that Council review options associated with purchasing all assets owned by CAP, land and artifacts, to help mitigate any restrictions with using the adjacent lots in general.

Please advise us as to any additional action we should take as a CAC to effectively represent our collective view on this matter.

MCAC Co-Chairs,

Reid Serozi and Rebekah Weber

(919) 295-0135

Subject: [MordecaiCAC] Mordecai Historic Park
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2011 08:45:31 -0500
From: david plotner

Mordecai Historic Park Action Item:

This Monday, January 10th, the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission, Certificate of Appropriateness Committee will be meeting. On the agenda, is item 149-10-CA. This is a discussion of the approval of a maximum footprint, and height for the proposed Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center.
As you all know, the addition of an interpretive center will be a great asset to the Mordecai Historic Park. It has been in the works for a long time, and we as a community should do our best to support it. More information about the interpretive center is available on the CAC site here.
If you are able to attend the meeting to voice your opinion on this, please do.

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 4:00 P.M.

If you can’t attend, please send any emails with your thoughts on the issue to CAC Park Chairs .

-david plotner-

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2010 08:07:19 -0500
Subject: [MordecaiCAC] Mordecai park expansion on horizon
From: Reid Serozi

Hello MCAC Community,

Regarding the future Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center

The public hearing to select the building location for the 5,000 sqft
Park Interpretive Center was held at the end of November.

The selected site / location for the center will be along Wake Forest Road.

Please take the time to read the meeting minutes and the selected site
option for the park center @

The following story, "Mordecai park expansion on horizon", was
published in today's Midtown Raleigh News.
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2010 12:07:20 -0500
Subject: PUBLIC MEETING Nov. 30 - conceptual location for the Mordecai Park Interpretive Center
To: CC:;; 

ATTENTION: Mordecai CAC Residents, 

The City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department will hold a public meeting on Nov. 30, Tuesday, to discuss the conceptual location for the Mordecai Park Interpretive Center. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Trinity United Methodist Church, 824 North Bloodworth St. 

The interpretive center was included in the 2007 City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Bond. Budgeted at $1.5 million, the project was included in the 2010-11 Capital Improvement Project budget. In September, the Raleigh City Council authorized City staff to negotiate a contract with Clearscapes for the planning, design, and construction for the first phase of the center. The project will be a 5,000-square-foot visitor’s center to be used for interpretive displays, offices and educational space. Initial work will begin with a master plan amendment to determine the location of the new center. Phase one of the project will be followed by design and construction. Construction is estimated to begin in 2012. 

According to Shawsheen Baker, project manager for the City of Raleigh, the task of finding an appropriate location for the center is a challenge. “It’s an historic park and we need to respect its legacy,” she said. “The park already has a number of buildings on it and we don’t want the center to compete with the grand Mordecai House. We want the center to be obvious, but not distracting.” The public is invited to comment on the proposed location for the center at the Nov. 30 meeting. The proposed location will go to the Council’s Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board for review before going to the City Council for review and adoption in March of 2011. 

Your Community Parks Representatives are Dana Deaton and David Plotner with the Mordecai Citizens Advisory Council. Contact: or (919) 295-0135 City Contact Info @

 Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2010 11:04:26 -0400
 Subject: Public Notification for Mordecai Historic Park Interpretative Center
 ATTENTION: Public Notification for Mordecai Historic Park Interpretative Center
 A public meeting will be held on
 November 30, 2010 @ 7:00 - 9:00 pm
 Trinity United Methodist Church
 824 North Bloodworth Street
 to review the proposed location and solicit public input for the
 Interpretive Center at Mordecai Historic Park
 Comments and questions are welcome and may be sent to:
 Please specify Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center in the
 subject line or call 996-4774 for more information
 Your Community Parks Representatives are Dana Deaton and David Plotner
 with the Mordecai Citizens Advisory Council. Contact: or (919) 295-0135
 Date: Fri, 28 May 2010 12:28:31 -0700
 Subject: [MordecaiCAC] Re: meeting at Mordecai Spring to discuss development
 Hello neighbors,
 I just want to clarify that there was a pre-bid meeting today to
 identify a design firm for the future Mordecai Historic Park
 Interpretive Center in accordance with the voter approved 2007 bond.
 However nothing has been determined yet concerning site placement,
 zoning requirements, permitting, parking, or any other consideration
 for a future interpretive center to be built on park property.
 If you have any questions concerning this project or any other park
 related matter please do not hesitate to contact me or feel free to
 ask us at the CAC meetings.
 Troy Burton
 Site Manager
 Mordecai Historic Park

Past Communication to Historic Oakwood Residents via Neighborhood Yahoo Group
In the Media
Reid Serozi,
Jun 22, 2011, 8:14 AM
Reid Serozi,
May 3, 2011, 10:55 AM
Reid Serozi,
Jun 15, 2011, 5:34 AM