$46 million proposal for Civil War museum draws concern from city leaders

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A proposed Civil War museum is causing controversy in Fayetteville.

State representatives want $46 million for the history center but Mayor Colvin says the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Haymount's Arsenal Park is home to history. It's where confederates stored ammunition during the civil war. It's also where state leaders want to build a multi-million dollar history center in it's already existing historical park.

Mayor Mitch Colvin took to Facebook to express his concern. He told ABC11 that Fayetteville's priorities had been forgotten.

"We were recently gauged a tier one community, and so the city...county every year submits to the legislative its priorities to help the community," said Colvin.

Confederate statues and monuments have been the center of division and dozens of protests in the Carolinas, but for Colvin, it wasn't about the controversy, but rather a conversation about the appropriation.

"We have residents still displaced. I have a neighborhood in Eastern Fayetteville that flooded twice and so we're looking for funds for that. We submitted requests for infrastructure for economic development for Murchison Road, a community that's been distressed for several years," he said.

Representative John Szoka told ABC11 that he empathizes with the city's concerns but says the history center has a bigger impact.

"My job as a state legislator is to look at those projects that have statewide impact. The things that the city is doing with Murchison road the redevelopment there I applaud it, but no one has really asked me for any money," said Szoka.
In contrast, state representatives in Asheville asked for $10 million for cybersecurity training, while Greensboro submitted a request for mental health.

But like city leaders, residents say this money could be better spent.

"We should invest that money into our homeless population, rebuilding and repairing our city rather than perpetuating the message of racism," said one resident.

Others including Szoka say the museum is about education and an opportunity for economic growth.

"I think that it's great for us to have more attractions for downtown Fayetteville," said one resident.

State leaders still have to get the bill passed. In the meantime, Colvin says he'll be working on behalf of Fayetteville.

"This is not necessarily an indictment about the civil war history center, but it is a conversation about priorities and resources. So if resources are limited we have to prioritize. So right now I have a lot more pressing issues that need be considered," said Colvin.
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