NEW ORLEANS - City Park and not the city of New Orleans owns the P.G.T. Beauregard monument and the land it sits upon, and therefore the city cannot remove it, according to Richard Marksbury, a member of the Monumental Task Committee.
Marksbury said he filed a lawsuit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court seeking a temporary restraining order that would prevent the city from removing the statue. In addition, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a monuments supporter, sent a letter to the park's chairman of the board, asking that he protect the monument.
Marksbury said City Park was sold the land in 1900. Despite the fact the Beauregard monument is across the street from the park, Marksbury said that at the time of the sale, there was no street and the statue and the land were an extension of the park itself.
Monday afternoon, City Park issued a brief response:
"City Park has just received copies of the lawsuit by Richard Marksbury against the City of New Orleans. We have not had an opportunity to review the allegations in the lawsuit, but have instructed our attorneys to immediately review same," said Robert W. Becker, CEO of City Park.
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The Beauregard monument, along with the statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle and the Jefferson Davis memorial on South Jefferson Davis Parkway and Canal Street, have been slated by the city for removal following a city council vote in 2015. Courts have upheld that vote, but Marksbury said all of the facts were not in at that time.
"When this was in federal court ... nobody really came in and asserted true ownership of the monuments," said Marksbury.
Nungesser's letter to Steven Pettus, the president of the City Park Improvement Association Board of Commissioners, requested protection for the monument.
"I am troubled that the CPIA Board of Commissioners has apparently been aware of this ownership interest for some time now, yet has not exercised its fiduciary duty to protect this valuable state asset," the letter reads. "The Beauregard statue, which is an historic work of art by renowned sculptor Alexander Doyle, marks the main entrance to City Park and is vital to its identity."
The city has not provided a timeline for the removal of the monuments because of safety concerns.