June 22, 2020
The Chairman of the Centreville Historic Preservation Commission appeared before the Bibb County Commission Monday evening to discuss the Confederate Monument that sits on the Court House lawn and to make a recommendation to the Commission concerning the future of the monument.
A larger than normal crowd attended the regularly scheduled commission meeting and extra chairs were brought in to the commission chambers to accommodate the interested parties. Word had already spread around town that the monument would be discussed and out of town visitors were in attendance who seemed eager to hear what might be said in the meeting.
These are some of the excerpts from the CHPC Chairman’s remarks:
- Even though the monument rests on county owned property, there are strings attached to this monument that are not within the sole control or discretion of the Bibb County Commission. In these turbulent times it is worth dispelling rumors and misstatements of fact that have recently appeared on social media to put certain facts out in the public forum.
- The monument was erected “to the Confederate Soldiers” by the UDC in 1910. Three of the board members of the CHPC are current members of UDC. Originally it rested closer to Walnut Street and was later moved closer to the court house. The ownership of the monument is a question of fact that need not be resolved today.
- The Centreville Historic Business District was created and the properties within the district were added to the National Register of Historic Places on 10/19/1978.
- The Confederate Monument is one of the protected properties on the National Historic Register and one of the 25 remaining protected properties on the Centreville Historic Business District. One of the historic properties on the national register was demolished by the county commission within the last five years.
- The CHPC is a Certified Local Government Program that derives its powers from federal and state law found in the Code of Alabama and from local ordinances passed by the City of Centreville. Information about CLG programs can be found at the National Park Service Park website and Code of Alabama Sections 11-68-1 et. Seq. Click on the highlighted links to find the appropriate web pages. Links to the municipal ordinances that authorized the CHPC are available at the end of this article.
- More recently Alabama has passed the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017. Within that Act there is no provision that allows removal or relocation of a monument that has been in place for more than 40 years.
- An exception under the Memorial Act that allows the CHPC to temporarily authorize the movement and storage for safekeeping of the monument for the purpose of exercising proper and appropriate means for its protection, preservation, and care. That legal authority is set out in Code of Alabama Section 41-9-233.
The CHPC stated that their purpose for meeting with the County Commission is to advise the Commission of these facts and the let the Commission know that the CHPC favors the temporary removal and storage for safekeeping of the monument for preservation purposes.
In closing, the CHPC Chairman emphasized these points as the basis for the CHPC recommendation and gave the following statement:
- “We do not, under any circumstances, recommend acquiescence to protest or demand. Our recommendation is driven by other compelling reasons”.
- “If change is to occur it must occur through the process of law, never under the threat of loud voices and lawlessness”.
“However; in these turbulent times we should act in a prudent manner to protect all of the remaining 25 historic properties within the historic business district.
We should not allow a single historic property to become a polarizing lightning rod and a magnet for political upheaval and civil unrest that could ultimately jeopardize the peacefulness and civility of our community, nor put our entire historic district at risk.
We should act within the law while the opportunity to do so is within our reach and neutralize the storm on the horizon that is so plainly visible in the distance.”
As the presentation by the CHPC ended hands were raised to ask questions. Commission Chairman Stabler would not allow questions from the floor or any discussion under council procedural rules. As the meeting agenda concluded Commissioner Burt asked County Attorney Johnson if he had any comment or opinion on the CHPC presentation and Johnson said he would need to review the law before commenting. Commissioner Burt then offered a Motion to ask that no action be taken on the monument until hearing back from the county attorney. Burt’s motion was approved by voice vote and adjournment followed.
Municipal Ordinances Authorizing Centreville Historic Preservation Commission