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Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or pgould@freelancestar.com. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.com.

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Wilder confirms that Slavery Museum is dormant

It won’t be news if you read this story, or this one or this one, but Doug Wilder put in writing last week what has been apparent for some time now.

In a letter to the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs, Wilder wrote that the U.S. National Slavery Museum, “has closed its offices in Fredericksburg, and is not soliciting contributions at this time.”

“As soon as economic conditions improve, the Museum will take all necessary and appropriate steps to re-open its offices and resume solicitation of funds,” the letter states. “It is the intention of the Board to maintain the Museum’s location in Fredericksburg.”

The museum’s registration to solicit charitable contributions in Virginia first expired in May 2008, and has never been reinstated.

Consumer Affairs spokeswoman Elaine Lidholm said that in order to renew that status, “They would need to fully register with our Office of Consumer Affairs. That includes sending form 102, paying a fee, and sending financial statements, any fundraising contracts if they are utilizing the services of paid fundraisers, and a listing of their Board of Directors.”

“At this time, because they have indicated that they are not currently soliciting contribution[s] in Virginia, we have closed their file and marked it ‘no longer soliciting,’” Lidholm said.

Wilder’s letter was a response to this letter from a state official telling Wilder that if he did not respond to the state’s inquiries, a news release would be issued, stating that the National Slavery Museum is not registered to solicit charitable contributions in Virginia, and that contributions may be used for non-charitable purposes.

Reporter Pam Gould made a comprehensive check of the museum’s vital signs late last year. Her findings show that should Wilder seek to revive this project, he will face more hurdles than simply renewing his fundraising status with the state. Among them:

- The museum’s zoning approval to build a structure taller than what is allowed by city ordinance has expired. A new exception would require public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council.

- Both of the museum’s former Web domains are no longer promoting Wilder’s museum. This one actually promotes a U.S. Slavery Museum on the National Mall.

- The museum owes more than $80,000 in overdue city real estate taxes, dating back to 2008. As of January 1, 2011, the city will be able to initiate a process to put the land up for sale.

- The museum has not filed its 2008 federal tax return, which was due Nov. 15. Federal guidelines require non-profits with assets greater than $2.5 million to file annually. The museum’s land is valued at more than $17 million.

Look for more on this in tomorrow’s edition of The Free Lance-Star.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/citybeat/2010/03/04/wilder-confirms-that-slavery-museum-is-dormant/

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