JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4Jax is digging deeper into the cost to remove a Confederate monument from a Jacksonville park.
The current estimate is nearly $1.3 million, according to the city.
Many are asking, why would it cost so much?
The city got a cost estimate saying it would cost more than $1 million to move the gazebo, the base and the steps and move them somewhere within the county. Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said the cost of removal is also high in part because it is considered a “significant piece of public art that was done by an artist named Allen Newman.”
“Whatever your thoughts on the subject matter, it is believed to be a very valuable sculpture. In addition, it is massive in size and weight. So it was clear that removal would take a very intricate and well-planned process,” Hughes wrote.
But to do that, two-thirds of the city council would have to vote for it.
Right now the Women of the Southern Confederacy monument is shrouded in shame. The 1915 monument erected in honor of Confederate women has been covered since racial justice protests last year called for its removal.
Activist Ben Frazier said statues like this are symbols of deep racial inequalities.
“We have major issues with regards to law enforcement, trust, transparency and accountability,” Frazier said.
More than a year after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry promised to remove the city’s Confederate monuments, Hughes sent an email to city council members over the weekend saying the mayor’s office will be asking council members to approve legislation to remove the monument.
Seber Newsome of Yulee thinks the statue should stand.
“Rather than dealing with the issues Jacksonville has like crime, drugs, shooting, the homeless problem, the garbage problem, they’re worried about this?” Seber Newsome said.
Hughes said it took months to get a cost estimate for removal. The total came to $1.29 million, not including additional expenses for storing or preserving the statute. Although no decision has been made on what would happen to the monument, Newsome said the cost is too high.
“We’re going to hold all the Republicans who were elected, they were elected to be fiscally conservative with the money. We’re going to hold them to that,” he said.
Frazier has a different perspective.
“Consider this: How much money was made on the four million slaves that they had in the South? What about the cotton that they picked, who kept that money?” Frazier said.
Frazier thinks nearly $1.3 million in a step toward reconciliation is a small price to pay.
That price tag could come down.
The mayor’s office will ask for that money to be budgeted. If the city council approves it will go out to bid, so the final cost could end up being lower.
No word on when the mayor will ask for the money as the city has declined to make anyone available for comment.