The remaining downtown Charlottesville Confederate statues will come down Saturday at an unspecified time, the City of Charlottesville announced Friday afternoon after shrouding the timing of the removal in secrecy.
The City of Charlottesville installed temporary fencing on Friday around the statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and closed the streets around and between the Market Street and Court Square parks to public parking on Saturday.
“Good luck tomorrow,” a city Parks and Recreation employee was overheard telling a city public works employee Friday in Court Square Park.
The statues will be removed while the stone bases will be left in place temporarily and removed at a later date, according to the news release. Both statues will be stored in a secure location on city property.
The fencing installation comes a day after Parks and Recreation employees cut down a tree and trimmed others near the Lee statue. Earlier this week, City Council voted unanimously to appropriate $1 million for removal, storage and/or covering of the Confederate statues as well as the one of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea.
“This is just putting funding in place so that we can either remove, store or cover any or all of the three statues,” City Manager Chip Boyles told councilors at the special meeting Wednesday. “… Any type of permanent dispossession, transfer of ownership or otherwise, would have to come back to you as a council for approval and a vote.”
The appropriation resolution earmarked the funds and made them "available to be spent at the discretion of the City Manager, to pay for any related costs for removing, storing and/or covering the statues."
Albemarle County closed streets around the county courts complex when it removed its Confederate statue in September.
"Designated public viewing areas for the removals will be established in both parks," according to the news release. "The City will rely on its local media partners to broadcast the event for the public that wishes to watch remotely."
The city has been working toward the removal of the statues for years. A change in state law and a state Supreme Court decision paved the way for the recent effort. Councilors voted June 7 to remove the statues. The city was then required to observe a 30-day waiting period before taking further action on removing the statues.
That waiting period ended this week.
On Friday morning, the city released an emergency procurement notice for the temporary fencing. The contract was awarded to van Dalen Industries, a Maryland based temporary fencing provider.
City spokesperson Brian Wheeler has not responded to multiple requests for comment. City Manager Chip Boyles also has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Boyles said in June that the city would have to procure services for a contractor to remove the statues.
“ … and I don’t know how long that will take,” he said.
The city has not yet put out a request for bids from construction companies interested in helping with the removal. Both Albemarle and the University of Virginia bid out construction for the removal of their respective statues.
The news release did not say who would be removing the statues Saturday.
Boyles said the removal process and timeline would depend on whether the City Council decides to demolish the statues entirely or if they are relocated elsewhere. Different services and contractors would be needed for these options.
“There are caveats … if they’re being removed to be demolished in some way, then it would be a lot cheaper than to remove them in a pristine manner and it’s a lot cheaper to remove than if you’re trying to preserve every aspect of it,” he said.
The council has not yet decided if the statues will be demolished or relocated.
This is a developing story. Daily Progress reporters Ginny Bixby, Katherine Knott and Allison Wrabel contributed to this story.