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City Council to revisit history center funding

A request to move forward with a gunshot detection system for the Fayetteville Police Department is also expected to be discussed at work session


The Fayetteville City Council on Monday is expected to revisit the issue of funding for the proposed N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center.

Mayor Mitch Colvin and council members Johnny Dawkins and Courtney Banks-McLaughlin each submitted items related to the proposed history center for discussion during Monday’s work session.

The mayor is asking the council to consider adopting a funding agreement with the history center similar to what it recently adopted for the proposed Black Voices museum. The estimated cost is $6.6 million, according to paperwork in the agenda package.

Dawkins is asking for a memorandum of understanding between the city, the state and the history center board— to include guidelines and milestones to reach — before any city money is distributed, according to paperwork in the agenda package.

Banks-McLaughlin is asking that no money be allocated for the project, according to paperwork in the agenda package.

The council also is expected to discuss executing a contract with California-based ShotSpotter for a gunshot detection system for the Police Department. Colvin is asking for a consensus from the council for City Manager Doug Hewett to execute a contract with the company, according to paperwork in the agenda package.

Once the contract is executed, Colvin said in his agenda item request, he would like the Police Department and ShotSpotter to hold community meetings to explain the program.

The council has been divided on the technology. On Aug. 22 the council voted to proceed with a contract, but it came back for discussion after at least one new council member said he might want to reconsider his vote.

The council was deadlocked on Sept. 26 on a motion to provide staff members with definitive direction on a $200,000 contract with ShotSpotter.

History center

The N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center would be built with contributions from the city, Cumberland County and the state.

Both the city and county had proposed allocations of $7.5 million for the center, which would be constructed next to the remnants of a Confederate Army arsenal in the Haymount Historic District.

The state is providing $60 million in support in its latest budget, which organizers say was approved after the city and county made their financial commitments six years ago.

The project has drawn opposition from some people, including a number of African-American residents who don’t trust that the center will be anything more than a tribute to the fallen Confederacy.

But history center advocates have repeatedly tried to assure residents that will not be the case. They say the center will be an educational resource, telling stories gathered by groups and individuals statewide.

Dawkins said the community needs the investment.

“We’ve still got a chance,” Dawkins said. “We need the money; we need the investment. I think it will be the biggest investment in our city by the state of North Carolina. I know that’s a fact, because the biggest they’ve ever given us was $15 million for the Veterans Park (on Bragg Boulevard) that we’re expanding. And this will be the biggest investment in our history.”

Banks-McLaughlin has previously voiced her opposition to any city funding going toward the project. She did not respond to phone messages left Thursday afternoon.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com.

Fayetteville, City Council, N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center, gunshot detection technology, public safety