FLORENCE — City Council members said Tuesday they want to make certain Lauderdale County officials are OK with the city going onto courthouse property to remove the Confederate monument before they take any action on it.
Lauderdale County Commission Chairman Danny Pettus said during Monday's commission meeting that he had a letter from the president of the Alabama Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy stating the organization gave the statue to the city in the early 1900s and therefore has no claim on it.
Following the meeting, Mayor Steve Holt said he would ask the council at its July 7 meeting to approve moving the monument from the front of the courthouse to the Soldier's Rest within Florence City Cemetery.
However, council members said logistical questions first need to be resolved by the commission.
"I'm for moving it to the Soldier's Rest," Councilman Blake Edwards said, but added, "I find it hard to believe that the county doesn't have ownership of it."
Edwards said the county has maintained it for more than 100 years.
"We've got to have permission, and have a hold-harmless permission," he said.
Edwards said Project Say Something came up with a good solution when the group suggested the move, but he wants assurances from the county that the city can go onto their property to do so.
"It's on their property, so whether it's ours or not, we would need permission from them to come on their property to move it," he said. "If I left something at your house that's mine, could I just walk in and take it and leave?"
Edwards said a statue of someone holding the scales of justice is inside the courthouse and could be a good replacement but that would be up to county officials.
Councilwoman Michelle Eubanks also wants something such as a resolution from the Lauderdale County Commission assuring the city they can remove the statue and not hold the city liable if there are damages associated with moving it.
"The statue is not of a governor, or of a judge or of a legislator," Eubanks said. "It is of a soldier. Historically, it makes sense to me that it would be placed in the Soldier's Rest portion of the cemetery."
Councilman Andy Betterton said he wants a similar resolution before considering moving forward.
"With those things resolved, that's when my decision will be made, and I'm still working on that," Betterton said. "I feel uncomfortable making those decisions until those plans are in place."
Council President Dick Jordan said a lot would be involved in moving the approximately 17-ton statue and he would not feel comfortable going onto county property without official consent.
"I can't speak for the rest of the council but from all indications I think they're in favor of moving the statue as long as we have that," Jordan said. "My position is, I'm in agreement to relocate the statue to the Soldier's Rest.
"It's going to take a large crane to remove the statue and we need to look at pouring a pad at the Soldier's Rest to hold the statue."