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City officials haven't heard Wilder's plans
Museum not any closer to happening, despite blog post


Date published: 2/17/2011

BY EMILY BATTLE

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's blog post insisting that a U.S. National Slavery Museum will be built on land it owns in Celebrate Virginia is not indicative of action on some of the key steps Wilder would need to take to actually make that happen.

Wilder's blog post, which he made and then sent to various media outlets on Tuesday evening, says that Wilder and the museum's unknown board of directors "look forward to a return to aggressive fundraising in the near future for what we know must be a leaner project."

Returning to fundraising would be illegal for the museum right now.

The museum's registration to solicit charitable contributions in Virginia expired in May 2008, and there has been no action since to renew it.

A spokeswoman for the state's Office of Consumer Affairs confirmed yesterday that the museum's file is still closed and marked "no longer soliciting."

In order to raise money again, Wilder would need to fully register with the office. That includes paying a fee and sending in all required financial statements and forms.

In his blog post, Wilder said the economic downturn prompted the pause in fundraising.

"In response to the current economic conditions, we decided it was in the best interest of the museum to take a pause in collecting money," the blog post states. "Once things have sufficiently recovered to the point that we can resume full-fledged fundraising efforts, we, indeed, will. Until that time we are in standby mode."

As of yesterday, the museum owed $148,483 in back taxes on its 38-acre property in Celebrate Virginia.

The balance has been overdue for long enough that the city can now legally start the process of selling the property to collect the money.

City Treasurer G.M. Haney said his office is preparing to send Wilder the letter the city sends to all delinquent property owners before this process begins.

Haney said yesterday that he had had no contact from Wilder.

In the meantime, he and other city officials are researching the implications that deed restrictions placed on the land when the Silver Cos. gifted it to the museum could have for a potential sale.

Conditions of the land transfer require that it be used for a museum, and were written to carry over to future owners.

"I would say that limits your buyers a little," Haney said.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com