Florida

Repairing broken Confederate statue could cost 3 times more than removing it

Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies stand by during an Aug. 21 march and protest against a Confederate war veteran memorial outside of the Manatee County Historic Courthouse. Details emerged from an engineering firm’s report of the statue’s damages after it fell during its transport.
Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies stand by during an Aug. 21 march and protest against a Confederate war veteran memorial outside of the Manatee County Historic Courthouse. Details emerged from an engineering firm’s report of the statue’s damages after it fell during its transport. Herald file photo

After a fear for public safety led to a middle-of-the-night move of a Bradenton Confederate war veteran memorial in August, the bungled attempt to transport it to storage left the 93-year-old obelisk broken in two pieces. A recent engineering report that surveyed the possibility of any more damage gave more insight into the aftermath.

Sarasota-based Karins Engineering Group Inc. was tasked with analyzing what impact the fall had on the statue. According to its report, there was a “through fracture” 5 feet from the top of the 15-foot spire.

“Several smaller localized fractures were observed at the base of the spire, but these separated pieces were not present at the storage site and are assumed missing,” the report read.

More testing was done by Ardaman and Associates to see whether there were any more cracks, but none was found. The engineering firm also advised of a combination of stainless steel threaded rod dowels and stone epoxy to reattach the broken parts, but according to county spokesman Nick Azzara, the plan is to move the statue to what commissioners voted on as an “equally prominent and respectful place” before any repairs take place.

As nationwide discussions were happening about the meaning of Confederate figures in public spaces, and a day after a march and protest brought hundreds to downtown Bradenton, commissioners, citing public safety, voted 4-3 on Aug. 22 to have the statue removed. Many of the protesters were for the removal of the statue — which featured the engraved names of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee — while some were against it. Ahead of the protest, commissioners also voted to shroud the statue in an effort to protect it from any damage the protest could have brought.

Woodruff & Sons, a local contractor that “has extensive experience in moving heavy objects,” according to a county press release at the time, was in the process of lifting the spire from its base at 3:30 a.m. Aug. 24 when it toppled over, snapping in two. The base, as it turns out, was not attached to the spire.

The bill for the statue’s removal, which was paid out of the county’s property management budget, was $12,700. But the cost of repair could be nearly three times that amount, estimated at $41,500. That price takes into account the repair materials, repair shop fee, construction of the foundation and the transport and reassembly fee.

Azzara added that the property management department is working on what the repair work will entail, and eventually will ask for bids from qualified, quality firms. Where the funds will come from is still to be determined as well.

The statue currently remains underneath a tarp on the truck bed parked at a county property. But according to commissioners, state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, has been in talks with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees state parks, to move the statue to Gamble Plantation Historic State Park in Ellenton. The state department wasn’t immediately available for comment Thursday.

Hannah Morse: 941-745-7055, @mannahhorse

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