Many Fayetteville and Cumberland County community leaders, elected officials and residents are scratching their heads. They’re wondering what in the world Mayor Mitch Colvin’s motives are for his abrupt 180 on supporting the $46 million North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center that has been destined for a statewide home here in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
I’m not a mind reader. However, my guess is it has something to do with some form of political maneuvering.
What sense does it make for a mayor who has led an aggressive charge for Fayetteville’s growth and economic development to suddenly and without cause object to a sanctioned economic tour de force like the History Center? It’s especially puzzling since Colvin initially endorsed the project and played a significant role in advocating for and advancing it. Colvin’s reversed position jeopardizes the chances of locating this state-owned museum in our community.
It defies logic when a smart man like Colvin goes on FakeBook (not a typo) and compares the combined $17 million budget requests of Greensboro and Asheville to a funding request for the construction of a $46 million state-owned museum. However, in the same post he did say something that was true if put in the proper context. He said, “Tell your state representatives we deserve more than this.”
How right he is. Fayetteville does deserve more. About $46 million worth — plus more jobs, more visitors via tourism, more statewide and nationwide recognition and more tax revenues from increased economic activity.
Colvin is a smart political operative, and his colleagues are all aware that this abrupt change of heart has an underlying motive. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make any difference what that motive is. Sudden, unexplained changes have never been good or beneficial to the taxpaying residents of Fayetteville. It is this kind of inside political baseball that has proven to be Fayetteville’s nemesis while reinforcing that haunting localized adage, “Fayetteville never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
Besides abandoning his colleagues, Colvin may find it difficult to defend his position on several fronts. The most difficult will be his claim that Fayetteville residents have more pressing needs. Does he really want to go there? Especially when the city is confronting some pretty harsh criticism for spending $14 million of taxpayers’ money on a parking deck they cannot use? And, even more importantly, when the downtown development project — which includes the baseball stadium, the Prince Charles apartments and the classy hotel and office building housing those apartments — is completed, more money should be coming into the community. This economic stimulus plan publicly boasted it will generate $100 plus million of economic vitality to our city.
If this is still the case, then we are in the winner’s circle by adding this proposed statewide History Center to our city. Current estimates are that it will bring another $20 million in revenue to our community. If this isn’t enough to question Colvin’s decision and judgement, consider this: Colvin believes in education and awareness. In the past, he has joined dozens of local scholars, educators and community, civic and governmental officials in realizing the need for factual historical awareness and education about the Civil War and the Reconstruction periods.
Take a close look at downtown Fayetteville and you will see Colvin has provided us the leadership we desperately need to move the community forward. The question many are asking in response to his changed position is: Why stop now?
Next up, a Fayetteville Performing Arts Center? We’ll see. Let’s all hope the mayor sides with the people. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.