Cost to remove monuments just short of monumental, some say - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Cost to remove monuments just short of monumental, some say

“Each particular monument can be very special and difficult to move, and it takes experts to do that.” (FOX 8 Photo) “Each particular monument can be very special and difficult to move, and it takes experts to do that.” (FOX 8 Photo)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments would mean spending a large amount of taxpayer dollars. Two committees recommended the removal Aug. 13, and the City Council will have the final say at its Aug. 20 meeting.

Whether they’re for or against the plan, many New Orleanians have questions about the cost in a city with a leaky water and sewerage system, streets in need of repair and a police department in need of recruits.

“Who's going to pay for that?” asked William Wingmire. “People of New Orleans?   

“What agency - whether it's Parks and Parkways or another city agency - has this money in its budget for this?” asked Wendy King.

“It'll come at an extremely high cost to the city,” said Ryan Lee Waldrin.

To get an estimate of just how much it will cost to remove the Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Liberty monuments would be, a volunteer group called the Monumental Task Committee asked two contractors for a price. And it was steep.

“Just to take those four monuments down and put them into storage for just one month is a $1,100,000. So it's significant,” said committee founder Pierre McGraw.

The MTC refurbishes city monuments and has helped pay to move them. Just to refurbish the Margaret Haughery monument on Prytania Street cost the non-profit $100,000.

McGraw said the $1 million estimate to move the monuments could increase, depending on where they might be relocated and how they'll be stored.  

“Several million dollars,” McGraw said. “It doesn't really shock us. We know that, and that's why the Monumental Task Committee is promoting to keep all of our monuments.”

FOX 8 spoke with another contractor who, while he didn't want to go on camera, said moving the Lee monument alone would cost about $200,000 - and he said that’s on the low end of the spectrum.

“Each particular monument can be very special and difficult to move, and it takes experts to do that,” said Ashley Merlin. “The experts would cost a lot of money.”

Merlin is the author of “Statuesque New Orleans” and she also sits on the MTC. While the committee plans to fund plaques and entirely new monuments, it refuses to pay for the removal of the four Confederate monuments.

That burden will likely fall on taxpayers if the council votes to move them.

Gov. Bobby Jindal came out Aug. 14 in support of keeping the monuments and said he's trying to find ways to stop their removal.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office did not have an estimate of its own, but a spokesman did say they are in the process of asking contractors about costs.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved. 

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