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Art Museum Approved for Downtown Fayetteville Park

The Fayetteville City Council voted Monday to build a $15 million art museum in Festival Park.

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The City Council voted Monday to build a $15 million art museum in Fayetteville's Festival Park.

The museum will be funded by donations, will occupy two acres of the downtown park at Rowan Street and Ray Avenue. Mayor Tony Chavonne and other city leaders had opposed the idea of placing the museum in the park, saying it would take space away from other events held in the park.

Festival Park was designed to handle about 10,000 people, and opponents pointed to the massive crowds that turned out at the park for this year's Dogwood Festival as an example that the whole park is needed to host such events.

But museum executive director Tom Grubb said the building would take away only 350 spectator spaces, and he said he's willing to open the building after hours to allow spectators to use the building’s terrace.

"We are people that can negotiate, and we want to help the city to look better," Grubb said.

Museum board president Menno Pennink said the city shouldn’t book mega-events in the park anyway.

“The Dogwood Festival should be in the downtown city. I think to do things (in Festival Park) only for big events would be not smart,” Pennink said.

Chavonne recently encouraged the museum board to consider other downtown sites for the building, and he proposed a series of public hearings on the project.

But some council members said the issue had been debated enough already.

"There's been time after time for public input. I believe all it's going to be is a feel-good thing – this one section over here cheering for it, and this section over here cheering against," Councilwoman Lois Kirby said.

Kirby said she thinks the museum will bring more people to the park on a regular basis.

“I believe it’s the right place because, every time I go by there during the day, that place is empty,” she said.

Councilman Wesley Meredith, who joined Chavonne and Councilman Keith Bates in voting against the museum, said he didn't support building what he viewed as an incomplete design.

“We’re being asked to vote on a museum the way it’s currently designed when the architect himself said it is not complete yet,” Meredith said.

Grubb said no design changes are planned for the museum. It's unclear when the construction will begin.

"I personally would have loved to seen those questions asked and answered, but it's the will of the council, so we will move forward," Chavonne said.


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