NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans leaders are still struggling to find permanent homes for three Confederate-era statues taken down and removed from public spaces nearly two years ago.
Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser was in New Orleans Monday and said he has approached Mayor LaToya Cantrell with a proposal to jump-start the process of relocating the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and PGT Beauregard monuments.
"We offered to take the monuments and display them in a state park, a historical site, (and) to get a coalition of people together to decide where they should best be displayed," Nungesser said.
Nungesser added that he has no preferred area or place to put the statues.
"Being over the historical preservation of the historical sites and the museums, I feel that it's my job to stay involved and make sure we preserve those historical monuments," he said.
Former Mayor Mitch Landrieu turned down a similar offer from Nungesser while in office.
Removing the statues remains a controversial move for the city. Nungesser maintains the longer the mayor waits to relocate them, the longer it festers in the community.
"I think she wants to resolve it and her team does and I believe she wants to do the right thing," Nungesser said.
Author and historian Charles Marsala is pushing the city to display the statues at the new Steamboat Museum near the Houmas House in Ascension Parish, south of Baton Rouge.
"That has a solution because they're federal funds and there's state interest in there," Marsala said. "The state is going to have a tourism office in that facility."
Earlier discussions suggested that some of the statues should be relocated to the Greenwood Cemetery near City Park where some Confederate soldiers are buried.
However, the strongest sentiment appears to be a move to place those statues outside the city of New Orleans.
"The Mayor wants them outside of New Orleans, which I understand," Nungesser said.
Marsala was in agreement.
"Right now, I think that makes sense," Marsala said. "There are solutions outside of New Orleans."
Cantrell's communications director Beau Tidwell told WWL-TV:
"While Lt. Governor Nungesser has expressed interest in the monuments, no agreement has been reached as of this date. Mayor Cantrell remains open to a range of options regarding the future of the former monuments, and will continue to communicate with Lt. Governor Nungesser as to same."
For now, the monuments remain stored at a city warehouse.