City of Charlottesville staff will continue to accept statements of interest from entities interested in acquiring the statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, according to a city press release.
While the two statues were removed and placed in storage Saturday, the City Council still has not decided whether ownership of the statues should be transferred to a museum or other entity or if the statues should be demolished.
During the past month, the city has solicited for expressions of interest from any museum, historical society, government or military battlefield interested in acquiring the statues, or either of them, for relocation and placement. City Manager Chip Boyles says he has received 10 responses thus far — six from out of state and four in-state — and they are all being reviewed.
According to the release, the city remains open to additional expressions of interest. In early September, Boyles will conduct outreach with the interested parties to further evaluate their interest and resources.
“The statues continue to be property of the city and in storage. While in storage, we can provide the public additional time to show interest while staff works with council on how best to obtain proposals from interested organizations,” Boyles wrote in an email to The Daily Progress. “Proposals of acquisition may be considered by the City Council to assist them in their determination for final disposition.”
After the council voted unanimously in June to remove the statues of Jackson and Lee, the city was required by Virginia statute to observe a 30-day waiting period before taking further action on removing the statues. This period ended July 8.
The city posted a request for statements of interest on its website immediately following the vote, offering to transfer ownership of one or both statues “to an entity, upon terms deemed by City Council to be appropriate and advantageous.” The offer now will remain open for an indefinite period of time.
The City Council has the sole authority to determine the ultimate disposition of the statues. The city manager is not authorized to destroy the statues or to sell them without further action by the council.
While the request for statements of interest is mandated by the state, the council is not required to allow the transfer of the statues to another entity. It can vote against this after reviewing the proposals.
According to the release, both statues are being stored in a secure location on city property until the council makes a final decision on disposition. On Saturday, the statues were transported to a facility on Avon Street Extended.
The agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting does not list any items related to the statues.
“I don’t know anything about it,” Councilor Lloyd Snook wrote in an email to The Progress when asked about the extension and when the council will vote.
The council has not discussed the final disposition of statues in any public meetings. Councilors Snook and Heather Hill said in June that they would support transferring ownership to another entity as long as the statues were placed in a context that did not venerate or celebrate the Confederacy.
After its removal Saturday, the statue of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea was taken to Darden Towe Park in Albemarle County, where the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center is located. However, the City Council has not officially transferred ownership of the statue to the center.
During an emergency council meeting to vote to remove the statue on Saturday, councilors and city staff discussed the potential for the statue to be relocated to the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center with Alexandria Searls, director of the center. However, they only voted on the removal of the statue and not its final disposition.