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Museum misses slave-ship grant
U.S. National Slavery Museum fails to qualify for government grant for slave ship but could try again

Date published: 10/5/2004


Officials say application failed to put focus on transportation

The U.S. National Slavery Museum failed in its bid this year for a state transportation grant to help pay for a replica slave ship planned as its centerpiece.

But state and federal officials say that doesn't mean the project can't qualify for future funds.

Projects in Norfolk and Jamestown that involve building replicas of historic schooners were among 107 projects selected to receive federal funding this year through the Virginia Department of Transportation's enhancement program.

For the federal fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 243 applicants competed for $14.9 million allocated to Virginia. Nine projects in the Fredericksburg region received funding, accounting for a little more than $1.2 million of those funds, according to VDOT records.

Another local project not funded was Fredericksburg's request for $400,000 to extend a bicycle trail near Old Mill Park.

The U.S. National Slavery Museum sought $686,400 to help pay for the first phase of the construction of a 19th-century slave ship called Dos Amigos. Over three years, museum officials had hoped to receive grants totaling $4.02 million of the $5.025 million cost, according to the application.

James Damron, assistant to the museum's executive director and the person who handled this year's application, said no decision had been made on whether to seek a grant again next year.

"We haven't determined yet whether we want to apply for that again," he said yesterday.

The Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation in Norfolk this year received $500,000 toward construction of schooner Virginia. The vessel will be a traveling museum, intended to showcase the importance of water travel to Virginia's history and economy.

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation received $245,000 this year to build replacements of the Godspeed and the Discovery in time for the Jamestown Settlement's 400th anniversary celebration in 2007.

Both projects had received federal funds through this program in previous years. But those projects had also encountered problems in their initial grant applications.

Of 12 application categories in the enhancement-grant program, the ship projects' only hope of funding is in the transportation museum category, according to Wade Shenault, VDOT's manager of the enhancement program, and Jerry Combs, a transportation specialist with the Federal Highway Administration.

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