Taxpayers again snookered with unnecessary debt

While the Wilmington StarNews is “Stage struck” and the Cape Fear Community College Director of Marketing (why do they need this position?) believes a new $45 million mega-building will be a “game-changer for downtown,” probably few local taxpayers know that they have been “struck” with an added $41 million debt. Worse, it’s unlikely that this spending for another education colossus will ever add that value to student education, in my opinion.

StarNews reporter Phil Fuhrer in the print edition tells about a three-story, 159,000 sq. ft. Humanities and Fine Arts Center (HFAC) being built in old downtown Wilmington, N. C.—the political plan seems directed toward reconstructing the old city as a locus for big government facilities and crony businesses.

Aside from that, the question in this case: Why is a community college spending vast public resources on a facility out of sync with its mission? We have been led to believe the function of these institutions is to prepare students for jobs as opposed to the nearby university where fine arts and humanities studies are more traditionally appropriate—albeit mostly dumbed-down in content and quality.

Fine art is “art produced for beauty, not utility,” according to my dictionary. Further, humanities study the language and literature of ancient Greece and Rome; more generally defined as the “knowledge of literature and art concerned with human thought and culture”—commonly referred to as “liberal arts.” What has this to do with a vocational school organized for training students for employment?

Local and State politicians have bribed some of the film industry to locate here in “Wilmywood” an economically unstable, low budget eastern extension of Hollywood, California. Are Cape Fear Community College planners expecting thousands of students to be employed here? If not, why do they claim that 5000 students will be “taking classes in the (new) building each semester”?

Furthermore, why is such an extravagant facility needed? According to Mr. Fuhrer’s report in the StarNews, the lobby alone spans 10,000 sq. ft. able to host 2,200 people; the main auditorium will seat 1,600 people; 600 can sit in an “outdoor conservatory”; there will be 25 “formal classrooms”; over 60 instructors will have offices; and the women’s restrooms (twice the size of the men’s) will have heated and cooled seats.

But there will be benefits to the local taxpayers. Starting at $300 we can buy “naming rights” to a seat in the main theater ( The online article can be read at the posted link below:




About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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