City of Dallas votes to remove Confederate statue, but backtracks over enormous price tag

City of Dallas votes to remove Confederate statue, but backtracks over enormous price tag
Workers remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Robert E. Lee Park in Dallas on Sept. 14. The Dallas City Council is now debating whether to remove a Confederate memorial in downtown Dallas, or spend money to add historical context to the memorial. (Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images)

The Dallas City Council voted overwhelmingly to remove a Confederate memorial in downtown Dallas – but now they’re talking about keeping it where it is. The reason: A price tag that would cost the city nearly half a million dollars.

In 2017, the City Council voted 13-2 to take down the statue, and passed a separate resolution saying that “the display of public Confederate monuments… against the public policy of the city of Dallas.” Now council members are debating whether it will be enough to simply add some historical context instead.

City Council member Phillip Kingston voiced his displeasure with the city’s indecision.

“I’m angry. That’s not how this government is supposed to work. When the policy body votes 13 to 2 to do something very specific, staff better do it,” Kingston told local CBS affiliate KTVT-TV.

The cost for removing the monument would be an estimated $430,000. Instead, the Office of Cultural Affairs will tell the City Council that it recommends a $25,000 plan to “add historical context” to the monument instead of removing it. The cost to remove it is so high because the Council plans to relocate it rather than to have it destroyed.

The city of Dallas has already removed and relocated another prominent statue featuring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the former Lee Park — the name of the park has since been changed back to its pre-1936 name of Oak Lawn Park — at a cost to taxpayers of more than $450,000. A proposal to rename four Dallas highways named after Confederate generals (Cabell, Gano, Stonewall, and Beauregard) has been rejected.

The 20 members of the Mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments, who were appointed by the mayor and city council, were conflicted on the issue. Some were angry that their initial recommendation was rejected.

“Unless you listen to the will of the people and follow through, get the job done, it was a waste of time,” one member told KTVT.

But others disagree, including task force member Rene Martinez, who initially supported removing the statue.

“It’s huge. It’s large. It’s gonna cost thousands of dollars to remove it,” he said. “It’s going to be very costly and it’s in a cemetery. To me, it’s a marginal issue at this point.”

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the memorial again on Wednesday.

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