- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) Details of a planned national slavery museum have officials here taking another look at a deal that requires the city to pledge $1 million to the project.
Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder chose a 38-acre site overlooking the Rappahannock River as the location for the museum, which he expects to draw 2 million tourists a year. But selection of the Fredericksburg site was based in part on the $1 million pledge from the city.
The City Council was scheduled to vote on the proposal last night. The council had given tentative approval to the deal, but more questions emerged on the council as details of the plan developed.
Under the deal, the city will make a $1 million payment to the museum. The city will get that money back by levying a special tax on a 2,100-acre tract called Celebrate Virginia, a planned commercial and tourism complex that will include golf courses, restaurants, a hotel and the slavery museum.
Silver Cos., the developer of Celebrate Virginia and the nearby Central Park Shopping Center, donated 38 acres of its land to the museum. The developer originally had donated about 20 acres, but increased the size to provide an additional buffer between the museum and the rest of the complex.
Some residents and city officials, including Mayor Bill Beck, have questioned the strong link between the slavery museum and the Celebrate Virginia project, saying the museum needs a more dignified, less commercialized setting.
Among other things, council members wanted more details about how the city would recoup the $1 million.
City staff responded that it is the council's responsibility to set a tax rate on the tract that will be sufficient to generate the money.
City Manager Marvin Bolinger plans to propose a tax rate next month so the levy can take effect July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year.


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