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Elections, downtown development, ShotSpotter, the homeless and more

Some of the news that CityView will get for you in the upcoming year


In 2024, big things will be happening — elections, wars overseas, new development and ongoing struggles — and your team at CityView Today plans to be there to bring you those stories.

Here are some of the things coming quickly from the horizon:

Will ShotSpotter help Fayetteville get murders under control?

As of October, the number of homicides in Fayetteville in 2023 reached 45, surpassing 2022’s total of 44. (A total for 2023 was not available this past week.)

Mayor Mitch Colvin has grown increasingly frustrated with the murders, and wants to find ways to reverse the growing trend.

To help the Police Department both quickly respond to shootings and to discourage shootings, the city in September installed the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system in three parts of town where shootings have been more prevalent.

ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors and computers to listen for gunfire, identify where the gunshots came from, and quickly dispatch officers to the scene.

In the upcoming year, the city will see whether ShotSpotter is effective in reducing crime and catching criminals.

Downtown Fayetteville: A new performing arts venue

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners in 2023 approved plans for the new,  131,000-square-foot Crown Event Center to be built downtown, plus a new parking deck for it and the neighboring Cumberland County Courthouse.

The Event Center has been estimated at $131.7 million, and the parking deck at $33 million.

The projects need to advance in 2024 because the Event Center is to replace the Crown Theatre and Crown Arena at the Crown Complex off U.S. 301 South by the time they shut down in fall 2025.

Those venues are closing down because they don’t have access for disabled people as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act. County officials decided it would be better to replace those old buildings, which opened in 1967, than to repair and upgrade them to modern standards.

Downtown Fayetteville: Apartments on top of parking deck?

The Hay Street parking deck in downtown Fayetteville was designed to have an office tower and a hotel built on top of it.

Those never happened, and plans changed, and the developers said they want to put an apartment building there.

But more than three years since the parking deck was mostly finished in 2020 (except for elevators), nothing is being built on top.

Will anything happen in 2024?

Election 2024 — presidential candidate visits to Fayetteville?

The polling indicates the 2024 presidential race likely will be between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump (though Trump’s Republican challengers in the primary season have been tenacious).

Trump frequently campaigned in and around Fayetteville in 2016 and 2020, and with the Democrats and Republicans fiercely fighting for this closely divided state’s 16 votes in the Electoral College, it seems likely he will again.

Will this happen before the March 5 primary?

We shall see.

Meanwhile, Biden or his proxies could visit, too, as the nation heads toward the Nov. 5 general election.

Election 2024 — local and state

Expect a fierce primary battle statewide among the three Republican candidates for six Democratic candidates who are seeking their parties’ nominations for governor.

The race for lieutenant governor has three Democrats in the primary and 11 Republicans. The many candidates on the GOP ballot could trigger a run-off primary election in May, as state law requires a candidate to get at least 30% of the vote to win the primary.

Closer to home, the Republicans have fielded eight people in the primary election for Cumberland County Commissioners District 2, while the Democrats have four candidates.

Each party’s voters will pick three candidates from their slate to advance to the general election, as District 2 has three seats.

Another primary battle is underway in state House District 42, where longtime incumbent Democrat Marvin Lucas of Spring Lake is retiring. The Democrats have four candidates for that seat.

Local politicians swing for the statewide bleachers

Cumberland County voters will see their fellow Cumberland Countians running for statewide office.

Tim Dunn of Fayetteville is running for attorney general, Dave Boliek, who spent most of his adult life in Fayetteville, is running for state auditor, Ben Clark of Cumberland County is running for lieutenant governor, and Sarah Taber of Fayetteville is running commissioner of agriculture.

Boliek is a Republican, and Dunn, Clark and Taber are Democrats.

Will the county build a new shelter for homeless residents?

The county commissioners want to build a shelter for homeless people near downtown Fayetteville. But their preferred location, near downtown, needs to be rezoned first, and the City Council postponed consideration of that request to January 2024.

Some people who live near the proposed site have asked the City Council to reject the request.

Will Spring Lake get free of state control?

Long-troubled Spring Lake saw the state Local Government Commission — an agency tasked with protecting residents from mismanagement by their elected officials — take over its finances in fall 2021. The Board of Aldermen was outspending the town’s revenue, had been making bad decisions for years, there was embezzlement among town employees, and the leaders were doing little to rectify the problems.

Spring Lake residents in the 2021 election replaced the mayor and most of the Town Board of Aldermen. Since then, the town has been working to get its management and finances in order, and it’s waiting to see whether the Local Government Commission will end its close oversight.

The GenX/PFAS contamination of Gray’s Creek drinking water

Cumberland County’s effort to bring public water to the Gray’s Creek area is expected to continue following the toxic GenX/PFAS chemical contamination of the Cape Fear River and groundwater supplies.

The chemicals are from the Chemours Co. Fayetteville Works plant on the Bladen-Cumberland county line. The county commissioners are suing Chemours.

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

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shotspotter, crime, elections, 2024, fayetteville, cumberland county, north carolina, homeless, GenX, PFAS, Chemours