Late last year, Mr. John Mullins agreed to sell some Chancellorsville battlefield land he owned to a Virginia developer named Tricord; Tricord agreed to sell 140 acres of this same land to Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) for $3 million. Central Virginia Battlefield Trust (CVBT) agreed to help raise part of that money for CWPT and in an initial fund raising message suggested that there was a March 31 deadline associated with this transaction. That website letter was later edited to remove "March 31."
Both CWPT and CVBT have fundraising appeals on their websites; both appeals use contingent language to suggest that the underlying deal is at risk in some way.
March 31 has come and gone. There has never been an article in the Spotsylvania papers to announce a sale closing; the deal is simply reported as consummated. But the language these nonprofits use suggest it is not at all a done deal. Here is CWPT with my emphasis added:
The Civil War Preservation Trust needs to raise $1.25 million to match another $1.75 million, to pay for 140 acres of hallowed American ground at Chancellorsville. [Without payment, there is no deal, I assume - DR]And that is the key phrase, "Once we pay for this land..." Has it been paid for?
If there was ever a time when I needed your help, this is it. If you never give another dollar to help save another battlefield, I need you to help with this one. It is that important. [Again, contingency.]
Our future is in the balance today. If we succeed in raising the $1.25 million we need to pay for this land, not only will we save 140 essential acres at Chancellorsville... [Look at this explicit linkage.]
As you look at the map of the 140-acre property we are buying... [Present tense, the deal is open.]
... a portion of the land was sold to another local, family-owned development company, Tricord Homes, which has proven to be a reasonable organization that wants to be a good neighbor and do the right thing.
Tricord agreed to sell us the historically vital 140 acres for $3 million, allowing us to protect the core ground, most of the "viewshed," and the existing National Park. Once we pay for this land, it will be preserved forever, and this will truly be our greatest victory.
On April 15, I asked George Whitehurst, the reporter who has been coverning this matter for the Free-Lance Star. No answer.
On April 20, I asked Linda Wandres, Exec. Dir. of CVBT. Here is her answer:
The Tricord/CWPT land purchase is indeed, as CVBT President Mike Stevens put it, "a done deal." All issues and contingencies have been resolved at this point. As a result, 140 acres of the May 1 Chancellorsville battlefield will be preserved forever. CWPT and its partners, including CVBT, are now working to raise the $3 million dollar purchase price of the land. CVBT itself has committed to raising $250,000 for the purchase of this very important area of "dirt and grass." If you have more specific questions, please let me know.I wrote back on April 25:
Thank you Linda, I appreciate it. As I understand your explanation, the land has not been paid for yet but the the deal is final and ownership cannot revert to Tricord due to failure to make timely payments. Please let me know if I have that straight.No answer.
Next steps: I will contact Tricord and the Spostsylvania County supervisors.
These nonprofits do not give up their secrets easily, do they? Not even when they ask for your money.