Wilder refuses to comment on slavery museum’s future

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) –  The National Slavery Museum, a project headed by former Virginia governor Doug Wilder, could be in jeopardy once again.

This comes after an anonymous donor stepped forward in September and offered to pay the back taxes the museum owed to the city ofFredericksburg. [RELATED: Mystery donor saves National Slavery Museum from bankruptcy]

However, officials now say the deadline has passed and that the bill has still not been paid.

CBS 6 News’ Sandra Jones caught up with Gov. Wilder outside his VCU office Thursday. When Jones asked if he could comment on the museum, Wilder declined to comment and did not answer questions about when the taxes would be paid.

While Wilder would not comment on his future plans to build a the national museum, in Fredericksburg’s treasurer said they are in the process of trying to sell the property.

Jim Haney tells CBS 6 News, his office received an anonymous phone call last week from someone asking about the $300,000 tax bill on the property for the museum.

“It was the first person that showed any interest, other the people from the news,” said Haney.

That tax debt that led to the museum’s bankruptcy a year ago.

“When they filed for bankruptcy, that held up our progress,” said, “we could no longer move forward.”

Judge Douglas Tice Jr. dismissed the case in September after Wilder’s attorney revealed in court that an anonymous donor would pay off the tax debt within 30 days.

Now, more than a month later and the City of Fredericksburg is still waiting to get a check.

“I don’t know what’s best for this whole situation,” said Haney. “The history of it, is not good. So therefore, if they’re just going to pay the taxes and let this drag along, it doesn’t help us at all.”

When the case was dismissed in August, Wilder’s attorney told the judge the museum still planned to reorganize, begin construction and eventually open.

And Sandra Robinson said the museum had about $100,000 in pledged donations. Jones tried to reach her for comment Thursday, but was told she wasn’t available.

Attorneys for the City of Fredericksburg tell CBS 6, they filed a lawsuit on Sept. 14 asking for an order from the court to have the museum property sold at auction.

Officials said it could take up to nine months before the property is sold. Additionally, Wilder or another party could opt to pay the bill at any point up to the time of the actual auction.

Stay with CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the latest updates on this developing story. 

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