There will be a vacancy on Fayetteville City Council come the first of the year. Longtime councilmember Bill Crisp won’t be there. Crisp, 79, has served for 12 years. He was first elected as a result of the so-called Big Bang annexation of western Cumberland County in 2005 when more than 40,000 people were involuntarily annexed into Fayetteville. The controversial move was a major reason that the state legislature did away with unsolicited annexations.
Crisp became an influential and respected member of City Council. He served in the U.S. Army for 27 years, retiring with the rank of Command Sgt. Maj. in 1987. When asked about his greatest satisfaction of serving on council, Crisp said “I love people and appreciated being able to serve them.”
The area Crisp serves is one of nine political districts, each representing approximately the same number of people. District 6 is on the southwestern side of the city. To this day, Crisp says the big bang annexation “was a disaster” calling it “a land grab for tax dollars.”
The result made the city of Fayetteville the second largest in the state geographically, encompassing 148-square-miles. Only Charlotte has more land area. Crisp is among those who believe that bigger isn’t better, that the government lacks the capacity to serve its 210,000 residents. He takes pride in significant accomplishments he contributed to in his dozen years, including development of the multimillion-dollar Hope VI residential community off Old Wilmington Road. Modern apartment buildings replaced a post-World War II housing project.
Crisp is especially proud of Fayetteville’s designation as home of North Carolina’s Veterans Park, the nation’s first state park dedicated to military veterans from all branches of the Armed Services. Then-Gov. Beverly Perdue was on hand for the ground-breaking in February 2010. Crisp was a major supporter of the city’s $40 million commitment to build Segra Stadium on Hay Street. Officials say it will be the impetus of more than $100 million of private development.
City council colleagues have come and gone during Bill Crisp’s dozen years. He did not hesitate when asked who he most enjoyed working with on the governing body. District 1 councilwoman Kathy Jensen is his favorite. “She isn’t as experienced as most, but is one smart lady,” he said.
Crisp noted he developed a partnership with District 8 member Ted Mohn, who was also elected as the result of the 2005 big bang annexation.
Crisp’s decision this year to not run for another term was based on his poor health. “It’s an ordeal for me,” he said. Crisp has had prostate cancer surgery, spinal infusion and has had three tumors removed from his lungs. Diminished lung capacity and a weakened heart required that the people of District 6 elect a new member of council. Suffice it to say Councilman Bill Crisp will be missed.
Pictured: Fayetteville City Councilman Bill Crisp