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Give peace a chance
Slavery Museum would benefit from more robust dialogue with the public, and this newspaper

Date published: 7/26/2005

Give peace a chance

T HE SILVER COS., in the person of Vice President Chris Hornung, has tendered its good offices to calm the troubled waters swirling around former Gov. Doug Wilder's proposed National Slavery Museum. In a letter to the museum's executive director, all Fredericksburg City Council members, and executives at The Free Lance-Star, Mr. Hornung prescribes "continued dialogue" to satisfy "all concerns and questions" about the project. This is good advice--if one isn't so impolite to mention that in some key areas there has been no dialogue to continue.

If Mr. Wilder and associates are inclined to take Mr. Hornung's counsel, here is one way to implement it: Return the phone calls of reporters from the region's predominant news source--i.e., us. This is merely a practical suggestion. If museum officials believe they can communicate as fully and effectively with Fredericksburg residents via frequent City Council appearances, direct mail, or town crier, fine. What's important is that the people of this town be kept well informed about a potentially seismic community change.

These are the people whose tax dollars funded a million-dollar loan to improve the museum site, who were asked to forgo $30,000 in public-treasury fees for museum construction, and whose built environment, codified in structural height standards, the museum now seeks to vary. They deserve the decency of dialogue. Sunshine and troubled waters seldom coexist.