UPDATED: Council to consider surveying citizens on use of HMR funds

Update: The council voted unanimously to approve this proposal during Thursday night’s meeting. ×

Fayetteville residents may soon have a say in how some HMR funds are used.

City Council members on Thursday will consider a plan to survey Fayetteville citizens on how best to use funds from a possible extension of bonds used to finance the Fayetteville Town Center.

Extending the bonds, which are expected to be paid off in 2015, could generate up to $6.7 million.

Walton Arts Center officials last month requested the bonds be extended to help renovate the performing arts venue on Dickson Street, but some A&P commissioners have suggested a bond extension to help develop a regional park on 200 acres of property donated to the city from the planned SouthPass development in southwest Fayetteville.

State law requires any bond extension to first be passed by the A&P Commission, followed by the City Council, and finally by voters in an election.

A&P Commissioners were set to consider the Walton Arts Center’s request during their Jan. 14 meeting, but with other ideas for the money being tossed around, two City Council members who serve on the commission would first like to ask voters what they think before making any formal recommendations.

Walton Arts Center officials plan to renovate the Dickson Street venue.

Courtesy: Walton Arts Center

In a resolution set to be walked on during Thursday’s council meeting, aldermen Matthew Petty and Justin Tennant suggest using results of an official survey to help craft a bond extension proposal “with a high likelihood of being passed” by voters in an election.

“If we were to take a specific proposal to the voters straight away, we’d be playing an all-or-nothing game,” Petty said on Thursday. “But if we ask for public input first, we can design a proposal based on their priorities to help ensure success at the ballot box.”

Petty said whatever plan is selected should be based on helping further develop the city’s culture.

“HMR bonds have been used time and again for really important projects in Fayetteville,” said Petty, who noted the Town Center and Global Campus buildings on the square, and the Walton Arts Center’s campus on Dickson Street.

“Without those things, Fayetteville wouldn’t be what it is today,” he said.

Included in the resolution packet (PDF) are details about the proposal and the signatures of Mayor Lioneld Jordan and Marilyn Heifner, executive director the commission.

In an attached letter of support, Heifner said she’d be happy to bring the proposal to the commission in hopes of gaining a better idea of Fayetteville citizens’ priorities.

If approved, the city and commission would split the total cost of the survey, which is not to exceed $20,000.