ROCKVILLE — The county does not yet have a date for removing the Confederate soldier statue but should have bids for its removal by this weekend, according to County Executive Ike Leggett.
He said he will be getting bids by the end of this week or this weekend from contractors who could do the work of moving it. He said the statue is not being moved this weekend.
Leggett confirmed earlier this week that he has decided to move the statue, after it stirred up controversy for its location on public property next to the historic Red Brick Courthouse. Leggett made his decision prior to a forum hosted by Rockville City Council on Monday night to hear views on the statue, where some praised Leggett’s decision and others said he should have waited for more public input.
Leggett said he will put the statue into storage if need be before deciding where to place it permanently, but the question of where to put it is separate from his decision to move it from the property.
“I don’t want to delay all of this on a long-term determination,” Leggett said. “Those are two separate questions.”
He said there are a couple of different county facilities or warehouses where they could put the statue, but Leggett said he did not want to say where yet.
“I don’t want to go into that right now,” he said, but added “It will be protected.”
Department of General Services Director David Dise said right now he is getting quotes for cost and time from rigging companies that have experience moving monuments and statues. The storage location will be a county facility, Dise confirmed, but will depend on how the rigging company recommends it be moved and how much space the county needs to store it.
Dise said he is talking with Leggett on Monday once they receive the cost and time estimates to determine how to proceed.
The County Council does not have to approve Leggett’s decision to move the statue but would have to approve expenditures associating with removing it under certain circumstances, according to Council member Craig Rice (D-2). But Rice said he thinks most if not all of the council agrees with Leggett’s decision.
Dise said the cost will likely be low enough the council will not have to approve special appropriations since the county has a general maintenance fund Dise could use.
“We don’t anticipate it being that expensive,” he said.
The statue is on county property. Maryland Historical Trust Acting Director Elizabeth Hughes said the Trust does not have to approve removing the statue, even though it has a preservation easement on the property.
“The easement speaks to the requirement that the Director of the Trust must provide express written consent for certain types of changes or alterations to the property,” Hughes said earlier this month. “However, after a careful review of the easement language with our attorneys, we have determined that removal of the statue is not one of those changes that would require approval by the Director of the Trust.”
The site is also a historic site in the city of Rockville, which gives the Historic District Commission a say in the statue’s fate.
But Leggett said regardless of where the statue will go, he has made his decision.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s done,” he said.