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City is asked to back museum
The Silver Cos. asked Fredericksburg to pledge $1 million for the slavery museum.

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Date published: 8/11/2001

Letter from Silver calls for $1 million

The Silver Cos. want Fredericksburg to pledge $1 million as an incentive to locate a national slavery museum in the Silver Cos.' Celebrate Virginia development.

A letter asking for the $1 million pledge, signed by Silver Cos. chief executive officer Larry Silver, was distributed to the City Council during a closed meeting Thursday with former Gov. Douglas Wilder, chief proponent of the museum.

"This letter is not only to request solid expressions of support, but to ask the city to provide a $1,000,000 incentive to the slavery museum if it selects the City of Fredericksburg and Celebrate Virginia as its home," the letter states.

Two council members, who asked not to be identified, said that a majority of the council agreed in the closed meeting to pledge the $1 million.

The Silver Cos. pledged to donate 20 to 25 acres for the museum on the Fredericksburg side of the Celebrate Virginia development. Silver said the tract, which is adjacent to Interstate 95, is worth between $10 million and $12 million.

According to the Fredericksburg commissioner of revenue, the 541 acres of Celebrate Virginia that can be developed on the city's side of the Rappahannock River are assessed at approximately $3.2 million.

The topic of a national slavery museum was added yesterday to the City Council agenda for Tuesday evening.

Councilman Richard Garnett said the city is trying to get Wilder to make a presentation on the museum at Tuesday's public meeting.

As of yesterday afternoon, Wilder had not committed to attend the meeting.

"Even if he doesn't attend, we're going to provide a public briefing on everything we heard," Garnett said.

Garnett said if Wilder cannot attend, he hopes Michael Neiditch, who previously served as the director of endowment and development at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and was present at Thursday's closed session, will be available to make a presentation.

Both Garnett and Vice Mayor Gordon Shelton said they feel the public will support the museum once they hear the presentation.

"I think that when this issue is aired and the many pluses for Fredericksburg become apparent, that the citizens of Fredericksburg will be well pleased," Shelton said.

Shelton said it is likely the council will hold a vote on the museum at Tuesday's meeting.

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