The Guilford County Board of Commissioners met virtually for about an hour on Tuesday, March 29 at 6 p.m. and gave $2 million of county taxpayer money to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in downtown Greensboro.
The money is to help fund a project that calls for the purchase of a building, a mass expansion of the museum and an attempt to become designated as a World Heritage Site.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston didn’t participate in the discussion or the vote because Alston is a founder of the museum and also is the real estate broker helping the museum purchase the former First Citizen’s bank building next door on South Elm Street.
The $2 million from Guilford County will join with $2 million from the City of Greensboro and, possibly millions more from other sources, to fund the $20 million to $25 million project meant to result with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designating the museum as a prestigious World Heritage Site.
UNESCO was founded in 1945 and its landmark designations are very hard to come by. So far, only 24 sites in the United States, including the Statue of Liberty and the Everglades National Park – are designated as World Heritage sites.
The nine-member board voted to approve the money 5-to-3, with the board’s three Republicans – Commissioners James Upchurch, Justin Conrad and Alan Perdue – voting no, and with Alston not participating.
Upchurch, who offered reasons for his opposition during the meeting, later summarized his thinking. He said he’d met with a top museum leader for about three hours before the Tuesday evening meeting and said he offered to support the museum in a number of ways – such as by serving on a board overseeing the new project.
But Upchurch also said he felt as though the county has too many pressing critical needs right now to give away $2 million to the museum project.
Upchurch said at the meeting as well as afterward that he generally does not favor giving taxpayer money to non-profits, and he said in this case he didn’t like the way it was being done. The funding was unusual in that it was done outside of the budget process, without, he said, time for the county to properly vet the project, and without going through the usual requests and checks that the county normally requires before funding a non-profit.
“They rushed this through as quick as possible,” Upchurch said after the meeting.
Upchurch also said he believed it was a conflict of interest for Alston to be a co-founder of the museum and a real estate broker on the deal when it involved taxpayer money going to a private entity.
Alston has agreed not to take his $250,000 commission for the purchase of the property, but Upchurch said the taxpayer money giveaway still does not sit well with him.
Alston said after the meeting that the taxpayers of Guilford County are actually going to benefit because a World Heritage Site designation for the museum will be transformative for downtown Greensboro and Guilford County as a whole.
“It will be huge,” Alston said. “It will dramatically increase tourism and it will bring a lot of people spending money to downtown Greensboro and other parts of the county.”
What a bunch of thieves
Funny thing about ur comment skip regarding the World Heritage Site being an economic boon to downtown isn’t that what you said several years ago about the money pit museum and please pray tell exactly how much money has been generated for the city you are so full of horse crap but just stay around Karma is a bitch.
Presumably no county board member has an ownership interest in the property sold.
Let’s keep Slick Skip’s feet to the fire on this.
Do we have a time line for when or if the Museum will become a WORLD HERITAGE SITE?
Accountability for any spending of taxpayer funds is critical and we need the other Commissioners to be the conscious of those that gave our money away .
Lol, this joke will draw no more people than it currently does….and be sure to not count school kids who have no choice but to go.
Deal has smelled like waste since the beginning. The begging and hustling for $ will not stop and you will be a racist if you buck their system. Remember your vote when it is time to go to the polls. Hopefully it will be properly counted.
Yes indeed! It will be huge! A HUGE waste of taxpayers money like it was ever sense the damn thing opened. The city AND the county should DEMAND an aduit before Skippy gets one more dime. Of course his little cheerleading squad will be screaming racism.
Increase tourism? Boy, that’s a stretch…
What a joke. This entity has never been able to be self-sustaining. It is just another —-hole where our tax money is being spent. There is no reason that taxpayer money should ever be spent on non-fit organizations. They must be able to obtain their funds from the community or elsewhere. The conflict of interest in this case is so apparent that it begs for investigation, prosecution, and jail time.
Let’s just keep dumping money into that money pit!
So fellow county taxpayers since “our” 2 million was taken and given to the money pit museum by hook or crook however you see it I have to assume we as taxpayers own a stake in ownership of the property so anytime you feel free as “owners “ just go on down, walk around and inspect our property. If anyone tries to stop you or question you just use the dreaded “R” word. It can work both ways.
I’d like to see a line of county non-profits at the next commissioners meeting each one asking for their 2 million gift. What’s fair for one should be fair for all or maybe this 2 million was skips way of getting his reparations first.
When you get your outrageous Property Tax bill in July, just remember that your County Commissioners decided they had so much money that they could just gift a few million to a museum they favored.
Hey, it’s not their money!
“Party line” lol republicans have no power here so that was a pointless tid bit
It’s obviously an election year. If the democrats used their own money to buy votes, that would be illegal, but when they use our money to buy votes, that’s just business as usual.
Build it and the pilgrimage shall commence from far and wide to the Great and Holy Woolworth Shrine. Just as soon as another (ESTIMATED) 20-25 Mil. is tossed into the collection plate.
If World Heritage Site doesn’t materialize what happens? Does the government agencies get to sell the property at the then market price and return the money to the people to offset taxes?
First question is the museum needs to show records as to where this money will be used !!!! Not go to owners or pay salaries for several people!!!
Let’s see ,if you are averaging 30 people per week; at what point will the number of people show interest in the museum and show up.I would guess that this money will go down a ‘rat-hole ‘ and there will be no records to justify how it was spent!!!
Will the Commissioners get accountability for this $2 million or will they be blown off as we will not open our books to you or no one else..