— Karl Merritt
2. What steps are being taken by Council to accurately determine the magnitude of opposition to and support for this project? None that I am aware of; further, I do not recall the same amount of attention or concern for public input directing council policy on other projects like the MLK Park, Segra Stadium, etc. Although a proper gauge of public opinion is vital, I do not believe there is ever a project that garners 100% support without any opposition.
3. Given that a previous council approved the funding and organizers have substantially moved ahead depending on that funding, do you have concern that pulling the funding will cause future distrust of Fayetteville government? I cannot speak for the entire council but it is a grave concern of mine. Business and other economic investment interests, to include the state, federal and private, need to know we can and will follow through on our commitments, otherwise they will look past us.
4. If the $7.5 million is withdrawn, how will it be used? What will be the economic impact of the alternative use? There has been no discussion of this that I am aware of specifically. Again, I think an accurate transparency of these funds needs to be shown and a real world evaluation of return on investment (ROI) given.
5. Have you made a public statement regarding the “Build it so we can burn it down” sign that was held up by one attendee during the public hearing on this matter? No, I have not personally. However, I think it is disturbing, reckless and unbecoming that folks, especially a former elected councilperson, would support or promote violence such as this, that in my opinion, borders on the threat of domestic terrorism and seeks to cause such divisiveness within our community.
6. Specifically, what actions have the organizers failed to fulfill that would justify rescinding the $7.5 million commitment? (Be reminded, reporting indicates the County is still onboard.) There is some debate on what constitutes “qualifying” funds.
7. Are you, at all, concerned that Council’s revisiting of this matter will cause the General Assembly to disapprove the funding currently in the budget that is moving through that body? Absolutely and this would be an incredible loss to our local economy that will negatively impact it for decades to come.
8. What is your level of concern that there are certainly white citizens who support this project, but will not speak up for fear of being called racist and supportive black citizens who fear retribution from other blacks? I find it very concerning that we are in a political climate where anyone feels threatened to voice their opinion politically or otherwise, as protected by our constitution. It is beholden upon us as public servants to make every assurance that citizens feel safe to express their opinions and give input and that they do not suffer any type of retaliation or retribution for doing so. In fact, that is the basis of our democracy.