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City likes museum update page 2
City Council members pleased with information provided by U.S. National Slavery Museum, but some still have questions.

Date published: 7/28/2005

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Girvan proposed during the July 12 meeting that a dinner meeting be arranged between museum officials and council, possibly for September. Yesterday, Kelly said he had spoken with Foster and she expressed support for the idea.

The Free Lance-Star asked museum assistant James Damron yesterday whether Foster could confirm that she was amenable to the idea. "We have no comment," he said.

Devine said she would like any meeting to focus on issues.

"My hope would be that it's not just a social event but that it's tied to answering questions--on both sides," she said.

Kelly said he would prefer any meeting be held in a forum readily accessible to the public.

"My hope is that we keep good communications with the slavery museum and we keep the community informed so they can see how this impacts them," Kelly said.

Girvan said she thought Foster's letter conveyed useful information.

"I think she made a good-faith effort last week to reveal as much information as they can right now," Girvan said.

She added that her goal is to have a policy that lays out the information needed for future requests.

Mayor Tom Tomzak said he was encouraged by Foster's letter, especially the fundraising update.

"I think it provided information and I'm looking forward to more information," he said. "I do want to have more of a viable working relationship with the museum."

Councilman Hashmel Turner, an ardent supporter of the museum, could not be reached for comment.

The council is currently reviewing the museum's request for a special-use permit to build a structure taller than the 90 feet allowed in Celebrate Virginia South. The museum roof is 150 feet at its peak, about 25 feet shorter than the main sign for the neighboring Central Park retail center.

Each person interviewed yesterday expressed support for the request, though Devine said she'd like to maintain a buffer--such as trees--around the building to keep "a more natural environment" near the river.

Otherwise, the history teacher said she sees the 118-foot-tall replica slave ship as a terrific teaching tool and envisions an "aesthetically pleasing" structure.

Withers said he canoed along the Rappahannock from Motts Run toward the city a few weeks ago and doesn't see the museum disturbing the area's beauty.

He said his tranquility was gone the moment he saw the Interstate 95 bridge.

The museum, he said, is "not going to destroy anything, in my mind, that isn't already destroyed."

To reach PAMELA GOULD: 540/735-1972pgould@freelancestar.com


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