Elimination of funding toward repurposing the Market House and overriding a 2016 resolution in concept to provide $7.5 million toward a proposed N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center are scheduled for discussion Monday at a Fayetteville City Council work session.

Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin asked that the items be placed on the work session agenda. The work session is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the FAST Transit Center.

Based on information in the agenda package, Banks-McLaughlin will seek the elimination of “any funding or future funding going towards the Civil War Reconstruction Museum” and to “eliminate any funding going toward the repurpose of the Market House.”

Banks-McLaughlin said she was unavailable by phone Friday and did not respond to emailed questions or a phone message over the weekend.

“CM Banks-McLaughlin will have up to 5 minutes to present her item and seek council support,” City Manager Doug Hewett said in an email. “Following her presentation, the council will take a consensus vote. If the majority support, staff would then work to accomplish the desired outcome. If a formal vote is needed, we would schedule it for an upcoming regular meeting.”

Banks-McLaughlin made a similar proposal to eliminate funding for repurposing the Market House during a council work session in October, according to published reports. The motion failed to reach a council consensus.

The Market House has been a divisive issue for years, mainly because of its history of slaves being sold there. Some people have called for the Market House to be torn down. Others have asked the City Council to preserve the building. 

On May 30, 2020, rioters broke into the building and set fire to it following protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. After it was vandalized, the city blocked off the Market House with fencing.

Repairs to the building were completed in late summer, Hewett has said. And the building is ready to be reopened. Hewett said he is waiting to hear from the council on what its members want to do with the fencing. 

The City Council has voted not to destroy or move the building. The city is working with the Department of Justice on recommendations for repurposing the Market House.

There has been discussion among community leaders, including the council, of repurposing the Market House as an education center to chronicle its history. The state provided $2.7 million to the city for historic building renovations in the budget signed into law on Nov. 18 by Gov. Roy Cooper.

History center

Banks-McLaughlin also wants the council to discuss eliminating any local funding for the N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center, which appears to be a go 15 years after the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex Foundation received a planning grant from the N.C. General Assembly.

Then Mayor Nat Robertson and council members Kathy Keefe Jensen, Mitch Colvin, Chalmers McDougald, Bobby Hurst, Larry Wright, Ted Mohn, Jim Arp and the late Bill Crisp voted on Dec. 12, 2016, to earmark $7.5 million for the museum. Then councilman Kirk deViere was absent from the vote. Only Colvin, Jensen and Wright remain from that council.

Colvin, now mayor, says actions of a previous council cannot bind a newly elected council.  

At least one councilwoman does not plan to vote in favor of funding for the center.  

“From my understanding in our last and previous budget cycle,” Councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram said last week, “we removed it from our focus.” 

Glenn Adams, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, said the county approved its resolution of $7.5 million for the center on Jan. 17, 2017, but only if construction began before 2021. 

“Because the deadline has passed, the Board of Commissioners would need to take new action to approve the funding,” he said. 

Commissioners Jimmy Keefe and Michael Boose said last week they will continue to support the $7.5 million for the center. 

Late last year, center officials learned the project would receive $59.6 million in the state budget. Those funds are payable over the next two years, according to the center.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the center’s pavilion and boardwalk took place June 18, 2021.

Organizers are planning a grand opening for April 2025.

The history center, which will be a state museum, will be constructed in stages on the historical Civil War site of the U.S. Arsenal. The main facility will be designed for 60,000 square feet, and it will be located off Hay Street near the overpass for the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway.

Other discussion

Banks-McLaughlin also is expected to discuss the need for a homeless shelter.

“The city of Fayetteville is in dire need of a homeless shelter,” she states in the agenda item request. “I am seeking support from the council to address the crisis immediately.”

The city received $1 million in the state budget for a homeless day center.

Other items scheduled for discussion are construction of a recreation center at Sherwood Park/ Sherwood Park Elementary School at the request of Councilman Chris Davis; a crime prevention mini-grant program for grassroots nonprofits that host mentoring programs for youth and families which would be funded by American Rescue Plan dollars at the request of Ingram; and adding Juneteenth as a city holiday. 

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.