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U.S. National Slavery Museum approved for federal funds to help build replica ship
By PAMELA GOULD
The U.S. National Slavery Museum has been approved for $189,000 in federal transportation funds to help build its replica slave ship.
The money would help with expenses on the first phase of constructing a replica of the 19th-century schooner Dos Amigos, as well as the technology that will go into making the ship an educational tool for visitors.
Museum officials plan to apply for additional aid over the next two years, spokesman Michael J. Smith said this week.
This is the first time the museum has been approved for funding under the transportation enhancement program, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Last year's application was disqualified.
Smith said museum officials were pleased to receive approval, even though they did not receive the full amount requested.
Museum officials asked for $520,720 of the $650,900 they say it will cost for the first phase of construction. They estimate the ship and the accompanying technology and exhibits will cost nearly $4 million.
Formal notification of the approval came in a July 6 letter.
The museum's application was among 170 totaling $55 million submitted last November, according to VDOT. Of those, 108 were approved to receive nearly $22 million. Fifty-eight received the total amount requested or within $1,000 of the request.
To receive the funds, the museum must get support from the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. With the previous application, FAMPO tabled the matter over questions about whether the project fit guidelines for such funding.
But Spotsylvania County Supervisor Hap Connors, who chairs the FAMPO board, said he now understands that similar projects have been approved in Jamestown and Norfolk, and he doesn't foresee a problem.
"I think we'd be inclined to look favorably upon it," Connors said.
Smith said museum officials are working on arranging a date to meet with FAMPO.
If President Bush signs the transportation spending bill, federal funding would become available sometime after the federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Museum officials plan to make the replica slave ship the centerpiece of their 250,000-square-foot facility. They are currently asking the Fredericksburg City Council to approve a special-use permit to build the 118-foot-tall ship to full scale with all of its masts and sails.