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Museum details still murky
Questions abound about slavery museum as Fredericksburg City Council prepares to vote on $1 million loan for project.

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Date published: 3/22/2002

Here are lists of questions about Celebrate Virginia and the slavery museum from City Council members, city resident W. Rodger Provo and The Free Lance-Star. Answers are provided in italics when available:

From Councilman Scott Howson

Ordinance 02-04 clearly lists the services required of the National Slavery Museum. These services are deliberately for the benefit of the service district, i.e. Celebrate Virginia. The sole property owners within the service district, the Silver Cos., strongly argued that the grant would go to the benefit of the National Slavery Museum. Wouldn't it be a fraud to knowingly enact an ordinance that deliberately misstates the intended use of the city's general funds?

If you accept the pretext that the National Slavery Museum is going to provide promotional and design services for Celebrate Virginia, as the ordinance clearly states, and you accept that the Silver Cos. is willing to pay for it with interest, then why is the city involved in this at all?

Where is any information whatsoever about the reimbursement?

The $1 million is contingent on the transfer of ownership of the land. The deed of gift recorded by the Silver Cos. and the National Slavery Museum states that the "property is subject to certain restrictions " contained in a separate document. What are these conditions and restrictions? Why is this information being withheld from the city?

Silver Cos.' attorney Paul Elkin said the agreement places restrictions on the use of both the museum land and Celebrate Virginia property surrounding it. In a letter to the city, he said the agreement restricts the museum to certain permitted uses for the land, such as living history areas, offices and administrative space. It allows the museum to provide lodging for visiting scholars and dignitaries, but it limits the number of rooms. The museum has the right, but not the obligation, to purchase additional property adjacent to its 38-acre parcel. Elkin said the Gift Transfer Agreement has not been made public because it contains confidential information, including the names of potential tenants or owners of land adjacent to the museum site.

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