Up & Coming Weekly

October 22, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 9 of 36

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM OCTOBER 23-29, 2019 UCW 9 History Center hijacking revisited by KARL MERRITT In my recent column titled "History Center: Another Hi- jacking Underway," I referred to questions that had been sent to Mayor Mitch Colvin and all nine members of Fayetteville City Council. In reporting responses, it was indicated that Councilman Dan Culliton did not respond. After reading that column, Culliton called me to say that he did respond. I did not receive his initial email. He was kind enough to send it again. e eight questions, along with his responses, follow. — Karl Merritt 1. Has Council (or is it planning to) held events that, in an unbiased fash- ion, inform citizens as to the reasons so many people view this project as good not only for Fayetteville, but for the state and even the nation? At this time, I do not know of any such events council has officially established or discussed. Any forums that I know of so far have been orchestrated by private individuals. However, I believe we should. If or when we do, it should be done in a manner that includes accurate informa- tion as to the intent and scope of the project as well as the various funding sources (exactly where and how Fayetteville's 7.5 million portion comes from), its continued operation funded by the state and the projected $20 million dollar economic impact it's to have annually to our city. is will allow folks to form a more educated opinion on the project and hopefully dispel some of the misinformation that is being bandied about. 2. What steps are being taken by Council to ac- curately determine the magnitude of opposition to and support for this project? None that I am aware of; further, I do not recall the same amount of attention or concern for public input directing council policy on other projects like the MLK Park, Segra Stadium, etc. Although a proper gauge of public opinion is vital, I do not believe there is ever a project that garners 100% support without any opposition. 3. Given that a previous council approved the funding and organizers have substantially moved ahead depending on that funding, do you have concern that pulling the funding will cause future distrust of Fayetteville government? I cannot speak for the entire council but it is a grave concern of mine. Business and other economic investment interests, to include the state, federal and private, need to know we can and will follow through on our commitments, otherwise they will look past us. 4. If the $7.5 million is withdrawn, how will it be used? What will be the economic impact of the alternative use? ere has been no discussion of this that I am aware of specifically. Again, I think an accurate transparency of these funds needs to be shown and a real world evaluation of return on investment (ROI) given. 5. Have you made a public statement regard- ing the "Build it so we can burn it down" sign that was held up by one attendee during the public hearing on this matter? No, I have not personally. However, I think it is disturb- ing, reckless and unbecoming that folks, especially a former elected councilperson, would support or promote violence such as this, that in my opin- ion, borders on the threat of domestic terrorism and seeks to cause such divisiveness within our community. 6. Specifically, what ac- tions have the organizers failed to fulfill that would justify rescinding the $7.5 million commitment? (Be re- minded, reporting indicates the County is still onboard.) ere is some debate on what constitutes "qualifying" funds. 7. Are you, at all, con- cerned that Council's revisit- ing of this matter will cause the General Assembly to disapprove the funding cur- rently in the budget that is moving through that body? Absolutely and this would be an incredible loss to our local economy that will negatively impact it for decades to come. 8. What is your level of concern that there are certainly white citizens who support this project, but will not speak up for fear of being called racist and supportive black citizens who fear retribu- tion from other blacks? I find it very concerning that we are in a political climate where anyone feels threatened to voice their opinion politically or otherwise, as protected by our constitution. It is beholden upon us as public servants to make every assurance that citizens feel safe to express their opinions and give input and that they do not suffer any type of retaliation or retribution for doing so. In fact, that is the basis of our democracy. OPINION e North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center would benefit the Fayetteville economy in addiction to educating the public. What's Your Scene? Turn to the center calendar every Wednesday and see what's happening around YOU or go online www.upandcomingweekly.com KARL MERRITT, Columnist. COM- MENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly. com. 910-484-6200.

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