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Councilwoman McNair says she voted wrong on funding for Civil War center

Her ‘yes’ vote Tuesday could have moved forward city’s support history project


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify City Manager Doug Hewett’s statement on whether the question of funding for the Civil War history center will be on Monday’s City Council agenda.

Newly elected City Council member Brenda McNair says she intended to vote for a motion to put funding for the N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center on the agenda for the council’s next meeting.

Instead, her vote was recorded as a “no” vote and resulted in a 5-5 tie Tuesday night. That would mean the issue would not be on the agenda for the council’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The council has previously pledged $6.5 million toward construction of the history center, which would be built on the remnants of a Confederate Army arsenal on Arsenal Avenue in the Haymount Historic District.

The total cost of the center is estimated at $80 million. The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has pledged to contribute $7.5 million, and the state legislature has approved $60 million in its latest budget.

Had McNair voted as she says she intended, she would have made the vote 6-4, which would have placed a final vote on the funding on the Sept. 12 agenda.

McNair said Wednesday she had no additional comment on the vote.

But in an email to her fellow council members Tuesday night, she said she meant to vote “yes” in support of funding the history center.

“As such, I will call the city attorney and city manager (Wednesday) to find out how to have this item reconsidered even through the vote was for consensus. I regret any confusion this causes, but I want my support to be accurately stated,” she said in her message to the City Council.

On Wednesday, City Manager Doug Hewett said the issue will not be on the council’s agenda for Monday’s meeting unless the council approves adding it.

Voting at Tuesday’s meeting to put the issue of funding on Monday’s agenda were council members Johnny Dawkins, Kathy Jensen, Deno Hondros, Mario Benavente and Derrick Thompson. Opposing the motion were Mayor Mitch Colvin and council members Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, Shakeyla Ingram, D.J. Haire and McNair.

Both the city and Cumberland County have proposed overall allocations of $7.5 million for the center. Because the city has provided land and Civil War-era buildings for the project, its proposed allocation was reduced to $6.5 million from its initial 12% pledge approved in 2016.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, Cumberland County, Civil War history center, City Council