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Slavery museum reports spending
U.S. National Slavery Museum releases spending report.

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Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 11/16/2005

By PAMELA GOULD

The U.S. National Slavery Museum officials released a report on how they spent the $1 million Fredericksburg officials lent the organization three years ago.

But it prompted questions from the three City Council members who have seen it.

By yesterday evening, only Mayor Tom Tomzak and council members Kerry Devine and Matt Kelly had seen the two-page report and its accompanying one-page chart.

They and City Manager Phil Rodenberg agreed that Executive Director Vonita W. Foster met the requirements of the contract by sending the report last week. But Rodenberg, Kelly and Devine were hoping for additional information.

"As part of the normal follow-up, I'll ask if there's any information or reports she can provide," Rodenberg said yesterday.

The slavery museum is to be built on 38 acres overlooking the Rappahannock River. It is part of the Celebrate Virginia South tourism development.

Kelly was adamant yesterday that the studies Foster says were done with the $1 million the city provided three years ago should be shared with Fredericksburg's residents.

"They have an obligation to turn over any studies that the city's taxpayer money was used for," Kelly said.

But spokesman Michael J. Smith said museum officials "don't plan to release any of the reports."

The accounting report shows that museum officials conducted a traffic study at a cost of $3,900. They also spent $10,094 on demographic and marketing studies to determine the museum's economic impact on the community.

They spent $255,621 preparing preliminary plans, civil engineering plans and environmental and cultural resource assessments.

Another $182,624 was spent on such projects as researching the museum's master plan; writing scholarly articles; conducting workshops with teachers; launching a children's page on their Web site; making exhibits for local schools, libraries and the University of Mary Washington; and developing lesson plans for a variety of school venues, including some that will be used with the 400th anniversary celebration of Jamestown.

Devine was most concerned about the largest expenditure--$547,761--that both she and Rodenberg presumed was for personnel costs.

The contract between the city and museum called for the museum to establish an office in Fredericksburg within six months of the agreement. The museum did that in 2002.


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