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Group fights Fayetteville art museum location

The Fayetteville City Council will consider forming a committee to look at other locations for the museum, which is planning a new building in Festival Park.

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The City Council was expected to consider at its Monday meeting revisiting plans to locate the Fayetteville Museum of Art at Festival Park.

The council last year approved moving the museum from its Bragg Boulevard location to Festival Park downtown, where museum backers want to build a $15 million, 32,000-square-foot building.

Councilman Ted Mohn said he wants the council to form a committee to look at the museum's plans and see if there are other viable locations for a new museum.

A group calling itself the Save Festival Park Committee has rallied opposition to the new museum, saying it would interfere with concerts and other events at the park, including the annual Dogwood Festival.

"It will definitely cut down on the number of people who can sit and watch," opponent Ron Harrison said of the museum.

The footprint for the museum is about 3,000 square feet, but Harrison and other critics said the building and its parking lot would cover at least half of the green space now in Festival Park.

Museum Executive Director Tom Grubb said he's open to considering other sites for the new building, but he said it needs to be located downtown.

"We want to do what's best for our community," Grubb said. "We're not trying to possess land. We're trying to get a museum built."

The museum attracts about 30,000 people a year, but he predicted a downtown location could bring about 100,000 visitors annually. Last year, the museum moved it’s “Fayetteville After Five” concert series downtown, and it doubled attendance and donations, he said.

"People will go one place and walk, and we think the museum needs to be within that core city area where you can walk from one event to the other," he said.

Grubb said the modernistic design by architect Enrique Norten would enhance Festival Park, and the building would offer needed shade to the park.

The museum hasn't started its public fundraising campaign yet because of calls for an alternative location. The museum needs to put the criticism to rest before it starts raising money, he said.

Since the city has already given the land to the museum, it’s likely both parties would have to agree to switch to another location. But Harrison said his group's lawyer believes there is an issue with the way the city handed over the land without any public input.


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