If a financial genie in a bottle was ever needed by the Caddo Commission, now is the time. Much of the talk about moving the Confederate Monument is just that at this juncture. The economic reality of a monument move is staggering.
As is the usual case, there are a few "minor" legal details to contend with before a rose bed or melon patch can be planted in front of the Caddo courthouse where the monument is located.
First things first, is the release of the calendar for the United States Supreme Court. Although not likely, it IS possible that the nation’s high court will accept this case. In that event the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) will have one last crack at obtaining judicial relief.
If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, then the commission must proceed to the next step– which is getting court authority to actually move the monument. Just because the UDC property is on real estate owned by the parish does not give the commission the automatic right to remove the same.
Once that hurdle is cleared, the obvious issue is where to relocate the monument. The Norton Art Gallery expressed some interest in having the monument on its grounds last year. Whether or not that invitation is still open is not known.
The $64 question is who pays for the move–and how much. The UDC is on the record that they will NOT fund any move.
The commission’s long range planning committee passed a resolution to add to the 2020 budget a $500,000 line item for monument removal. The budget for the next year must be approved by the full commission before year end. This appropriation is likely to pass–although this budget provision could be revisited next year after the 2020 commission takes office. In other words, the 2020 commission could delete this funding–or increase it.
The commission does not have much in the way of a bona fide bid for the monument’s removal. The quotes, were basically off the cuff, probably do not envision the complexity of the task. The memorial consists of 16 pieces. It sits on four concrete slabs that cannot be moved. The entire structure is almost 30 feet high and the estimated weight is 50 tons.
The monument has many micro fractures withing the granite and marble resulting from 115 years of freeze and thaw cycles. At least one expert has expressed serious concerns that any attempts to move the monument will cause it to shear apart and disintegrate.
The estimated cost by a master stone mason is almost $1,000,000. This does not include all the ancillary costs for moving of power lines, transport to a new location, security, etc. Some say these expenses could exceed $25,000.
There are many more chapters to this saga. And they will be reported as they are written.