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Fayetteville Mayor: State Funding For History Center Overlooks Community Needs

Artist's rendering of the proposed Civil War and Reconstruction History Center planned for Fayetteville's Arsenal Park.
North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center

Advocates for a new North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center say the proposed museum will draw visitors to Fayetteville and offer online history education to schools statewide.

State House representatives John Szoka and Marvin Lucas have filed a bill asking the state for $55 million over the next two years to build the history center in Fayetteville's Arsenal Park.

But Mayor Mitch Colvin is pushing back on that request, saying the museum shouldn't be a high priority for a community still recovering from hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

"We've got residents that are still displaced, we've got money that has not been released or paid to us that came in to the state from the federal government, and we've got people who are really caught in-between politics right now, whose lives have been changed," he said.

Colvin said the request for museum funding doesn't take into consideration the needs of the larger community. He would rather see state resources directed toward mental health care, opioid abuse, and rebuilding stormwater infrastructure to prevent future flooding throughout Fayetteville.   

"We need our state representatives to know that people in this community need them to advocate for things over and above a museum, which is an amenity," he said.

Planning for the Civil War history center has been in the works for several years. The bill filed by Szoka and Lucas estimates the full cost of the museum will be roughly $80 million, paid for through a mix of state, local and private funds.

Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon. She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos. She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.
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