Voters View WAC Expansion Ahead Of Bond Referendum

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Walton Arts Center officials hope educating the public will help the center receive voter-approval for an upcoming multi-million-dollar bond proposal, while also gaining input from consumers on a planned expansion.

The Fayetteville-based Walton Arts Center held a public forum Monday night to tell area residents about the center’s plans for a major expansion officials said will heavily-enhance the center, said Beth Bobbitt, a center spokeswoman.The center’s Fayetteville location may gain a major facelift in the form of lobby and concession expansion, along with extra space, storage and other features.

Walton Arts Center officials will use the forum to gain insight into what consumers want out of a major expansion, but they will also need community support to make the expansion happen, Bobbitt said.

The Fayetteville A&P Commission last month approved giving the center $600,000 for the expansion’s planning and design phase. The center had asked the commission for $1 million.

The center appreciates the commission’s pledge, but it will also need voters to agree to $6.5 million in potential bond money to carry out the expansion. Officials hope to renew the city bond from 1997 used to build the Fayetteville Town Center. They want to use the bond to pay off debt, plus fund the expansion.

A renewal of the bond must first pass through the Fayetteville City Council, though, after which it would face local voters. If the City Council approved the proposal and voters supported the referendum, the Walton Arts Center could progress with its expansion unimpeded.

The Walton Arts Center’s next public forum is set for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.