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City answers on museum
Responses to questions may clear the way for City Council to vote tonight on three key issues to help proposed National Slavery Museum get off the ground.

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Date published: 3/26/2002

Residents will have a chance tonight to tell the Fredericksburg City Council what they think of its $1 million loan to the National Slavery Museum.

The council will hold a public hearing at its 7:30 meeting on amending its current budget to provide the money from this year's surplus.

The council is scheduled to take final votes tonight on the $1 million loan, a contract with the museum to provide services in exchange for the money, and the creation of a tax district in the Celebrate Virginia development to repay the loan.

The Silver Cos., Celebrate Virginia's Fredericksburg-based developer, has donated 38 acres in the tourism development for the proposed museum, which is headed by former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

The contract between the city and the museum calls for the $1 million to be used to benefit all of Celebrate Virginia. The museum would be required to develop marketing and promotional plans and conduct environmental and traffic studies.

The money would not pay for the design, construction, operation or maintenance of the museum or any other privately owned building in Celebrate Virginia.

Four of seven council members said last week they wouldn't vote on the loan, contract or tax district unless the questions they submitted to City Manager Marvin Bolinger were answered.

City staff, collaborating with museum organizers, have attempted to provide responses.

"I think we covered them all," Bolinger said. "I'm not in a position to speak for the museum and I'm not in a position to speak for Celebrate Virginia, so it puts us in a very awkward position."

The answers are included in the agenda packet distributed to council members for tonight's meeting. The packet is available for public review in the clerk of council's office in City Hall.

City Councilman Richard Garnett asked why the museum would not be required to open an office in Fredericksburg until a year after it enters into the contract with the city.

City staff responded that the museum has since agreed to open an office in the city within six months of signing the contract.

Garnett had asked the city staff to respond to a list of questions from city resident W. Rodger Provo. One asked why the museum would be responsible for performing traffic studies, since the Silver Cos. already have paid for several such studies.

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