VIRGINIA

Virginia's slave museum property to be repossessed

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The Freedom Garden at the site of the U.S. National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg, Va., remains inside an iron fence with a padlocked gate.

(Photo: WJLA)

The property where the multi-million dollar private museum was set to be built and opened by 2007 is overgrown with weeds. No structure stands.

Now, the city treasurer for Fredericksburg says the property belongs to the city because of $215,000 in unpaid taxes.

Jim Haney says he sent letters to the museum's board of directors, including to the museum's board chairman and founder, former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, informing them of the property seizure.

While Haney says he and other city leaders have tried to work with the museum, the taxes have not been paid for three years.

Haney says, "it's a big issue for the city, we would much rather have the museum."

Haney also says he's not heard from Wilder in "quite a long time."

ABC 7 also tried to reach Wilder without success.

Wilder was last quoted in February about the project when he issued a statement on behalf of the museum's board of directors.

He states in part, "I want to say this as plainly and directly as I can: We intend to build the U.S. National Slavery Museum. And we will built it on the beautiful piece of land we own off the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg. No one should hold any doubt about either of those facts."

The property, appraised at almost $8 million, will be publicly advertised by the City of Fredericksburg.

There is no word on what is happening to the millions in donations Wilder and the museum board has received.

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