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Land where slavery museum would have been to go up for sale by Fredericksburg.
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
The city of Fredericksburg is ready to sell the land that the National Slavery Museum was supposed to be built on in Celebrate Virginia. It also is threatening to take legal action if the delinquent taxes on the property are not paid in the next month.
City Treasurer G.M. Haney said yesterday that he directed an attorney to send a letter to museum officials notifying them that the land would be eligible for sale.
The museum was supposed to be built on 38 acres of land in Celebrate Virginia that was donated by the Silver Cos. in 2002.
The museum owes more than $215,000 in taxes, Haney said. The city's attorneys have sent a letter to the museum's attorneys giving them 30 days to pay the unpaid taxes.
Haney said he made arrangements with Tax Authority Consulting Services prior to July 1, when the land became eligible for sale.
The letter was sent to former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the founder of the museum. Haney also sent the letter to the museum's registered agent.
City Council member Bea Paolucci said council members were notified by Haney Friday through email about the pending action.
"Were were given a heads-up that they were proceeding with action," she said.
Council member Kerry Devine said she was unaware of the recent action.
"I know the city has been waiting for a response since winter, December or so," she said.
She said Wilder hasn't responded to the city's inquiries for quite a while.
The city has been following the same process it would go through for any property with delinquent taxes.
"It's certainly about time to make the accounts current, put the money to work in the city," Devine said.
The property is valued at $7.6 million, according to a 2009 city assessment of the land for tax purposes.
Deed restrictions limit the land's use to an African-American heritage museum of at least 125,000 square feet or for "charitable, educational or public purposes and related uses."
On Jan. 1 the land became eligible to be sold by the city because of the unpaid taxes.