NEW ORLEANS – The City of New Orleans says that they are on the same page as City Park and that the PGT Beauregard Monument will come down as planned.
According to a letter from New Orleans City Attorney Rebecca H. Dietz, The New Orleans City Park Improvement Association has asserted legal rights in the property which the monument is situated.
The letter was sent to Eyewitness News by Richard Marksbury, who recently sought a restraining order that would block the removal based on related ownership claims. A Civil Court judge denied that request.
The letter from the city attorney, dated May 12, says that the city and City Park will “engage in good-faith negotiations to attempt to resolve their competing claims” over who owns the monument for a period of 30 days.
“Though the City does not agree with NOCPIA’s assertion, it recognizes NOCPIA’s authority to own, manage, and maintain park property and wishes to resolve the competing claims to the Property and any issues arising therefrom in an amicable and expeditious manner.”
The City responded to Eyewitness News’ request for clarification on the letter, saying that it will not effect Beauregard’s removal.
“The City maintains its position, which has been affirmed by the Courts, that it owns the PGT Beauregard statue and property which the statue sits on,” the statement reads. “The letter from the City Attorney, which was also signed by City Park Improvement Association clearly states that both sides agreed to engage in discussions over the next 30 days regarding any land ownership questions that the City Park Improvement Association has going forward. However, as the letter confirms, the City Park Improvement Association acknowledges that the City can and will move forward with removal of the monument. The City will move forward and has authority to do so.
Messages left Monday afternoon City Park were not immediately returned.
The dispute over who owns the property, and the monument placed on it, came to light when Marksbury, a member of the Monumental Task Committee, filed a lawsuit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court to prevent the City from removing the Beauregard Monument on the grounds that City Park actually owns that property, not the City of New Orleans.
The lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Kern Reese on May 10.
If City Park and the City of New Orleans do not come to an agreement in the next 30 days, then either side will have the right to initiate mediation.