Meeker wants in on federal stimulus money

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Listen to the press conference:

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says the city has more than 40 projects that could build jobs in the city with help from President-elect Barack Obama’s economic stimulus proposal. Meeker said many of the projects could be underway within the year if the federal government chips in.

Most of the projects are traditional infrastructure improvements such as building new roads and parks, and improving sewers and public transportation. Meeker said the city also has a host of sustainability projects on the drawing board, including solar LED lighting systems for parks and parking decks and a project to use solar power at the wastewater treatment plant on the Neuse River.

The proposed municipal complex, the Lightner Center is on the right. Image courtesy Kling Stubbins Architects.

The proposed municipal complex, the Lightner Center is on the right. Image courtesy Kling Stubbins Architects

“Raleigh, as you know, is a big supporter of President-elect Barack Obama,” Meeker said at a press conference in his office this morning. “We’re going to do what we can to help him get the economy going in this county.” Meeker argued that at least some of the federal stimulus funds should go directly to local governments, “that way the funds can be expended more quickly.” He said that if the money was given to the states to dole out, it wouldn’t get into actual projects as quickly.

Aside from the short-term projects, Meeker said the proposed Lightner Public Safety Center would be a good candidate for some federal funding. The Lightner Center is the 16-story police and fire department headquarter the city is planning for the spot next to the current police headquarters.

Meeker said the city council is expected to vote on whether or not to go ahead with the public safety center over the summer. At that point, council will have to decide if it will give the go-ahead on the plan and Meeker said, “it would be a much easier decision to make” with federal money cover part of the cost.

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