NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Mayor Mitch Landrieu is laying out a path forward for four prominent city spaces where Confederate-era monuments once stood. In an exclusive interview with FOX 8, the mayor said enough time has passed to talk about a formal process to re-purpose those spaces.
Last year, during a two-month span, the mayor orchestrated the City Council-approved removal of four monuments, beginning with the Liberty Place obelisk and ending with the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle on May 19.
At the time, the mayor spoke in general terms about what would come next, but now he's laying out a plan of action.
"The Ford Foundation has always been there, and they will give us some planning dollars that will be used by the Foundation for Louisiana," Landrieu said.
Landrieu said he's turning over the monument space planning process to two groups - the Foundation for Louisiana and Colloqate Design - to begin a planning process funded by the Ford Foundation. It's a worldwide charitable group that has assisted in rebuilding efforts, and they will pay for a planning process that Landrieu expects will take more than a year.
"After that process, they and the Arts Council will recommend to the City Council and the mayor what to do there," said Landrieu, who leaves office in about two months.
Landrieu also said that the site behind Canal Place, where the Liberty Monument once stood, will remain vacant, and he said the plan for the old Jefferson Davis pedestal on Canal Street will be a simple one.
"On the Jeff Davis piece, we thought it was appropriate to put up an American flag and a flagpole, which we're in the process of doing," he said.
When it comes the site of the old Beauregard statue, the mayor said that will be City Park's challenge.
"The City Park Improvement Association will take responsibility for beautifying the space where Beauregard was while they think about what will be there in the future," Landrieu said.
Landrieu said he was surprised by the backlash over the monument removal, but has no regrets about a process that he said cost the city about $700,000.
"Those monuments would have kept New Orleans from being as great as it could be," Landrieu said.
As for the monuments themselves, the mayor said they are safe and secure in the city property yard. He said he will let the next mayor determine what their future will be, but he added that there hasn't been a lot of interest in acquiring monuments that were the focus of so much protest.