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Posted on: August 6, 2020

City Manager will recommend a final site for the Confederate memorial

image of Confederate memorial located in the Plaza de la Constitucion

Trout Creek Fish Camp offers best options for public access and reverence

At their June 22, 2020 meeting, the St. Augustine City Commission approved the relocation of the Confederate memorial to a new location such as a cemetery or private property.  This decision also included authorization to temporarily store the memorial in a stable environment if a permanent location could not be determined in a timely manner.

City staff attempted to locate a final site, including numerous cemeteries, and received proposals for relocation solutions.

The request to relocate the memorial to the National Cemetery adjacent to the National Guard Headquarters was denied by the Department of Veteran’s affairs (VA) on the grounds that the VA only accepts monuments which commemorate a group of individuals eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery.  This applies to the St. Augustine National Cemetery or any other national cemetery.

A proposal from Mr. Randy Ringhaver offers Trout Creek Fish Camp located at 6550 FL-13 N. St., in St. Johns County, as more than just a location to place the memorial.  At Mr. Ringhaver’s expense, the Trout Creek offer includes building a park setting with lighting, sidewalks, and seating so that the memorial can be visited for generations to come.  Additionally, the foundation will be constructed by Mr. Ringhaver.

“The denial from the Veteran’s Administration to relocate the memorial to our local National Cemetery, nor any other national cemetery, made it clear that Mr. Ringhaver’s proposal provides the best solution,” remarked City Manager John Regan. “His offer not only preserves the memorial but also provides the respect that the City Commission requires, and the community demands in determining an appropriate final location.”

Mr. Regan continued, “Mr. Ringhaver has offered to construct, at his cost, a foundation that will survive the test of time beyond any typical engineering standard.  The land is privately owned, but it is different from all other private land offers in that it is a commercial marina with a park that allows public access.  Mr. Ringhaver’s vision for the new site location provides the preservation and reverence that is so important to our community.”

The Military Museum of North Florida, a private museum with public access located in Green Cove Springs, Clay County, was willing to accept the memorial as part of their artifact display; however, as it is located outside of St. Johns County, this option would be substantially more expensive to relocate due to the travel distance, bridge weight limits, bridge widths and geography of the river.  All costs of this relocation option would be at the City’s expense.

Representatives from the Ladies Memorial Association of St. Augustine, Inc. contacted the City to offer to purchase a suitable plot of land for relocation of the memorial; however, there has been no further development of this offer since the City responded by both phone and email.

The City also received an offer from a private landowner in western St. Johns County.  Without satisfying the need for easy public access for viewing and a request for payment from individuals wishing to pay respects at the memorial, by appointment only, this option is not feasible.

Absent a decision by the City Commission on August 10, the current plan of the City is to store the memorial at the city’s public works compound, located at 253 West King Street. 

The executed contract with New York-based Progressive Construction includes a base contract to move the memorial either to the City Public Works compound where it would be temporarily stored, or to a final location. Additional options for storage and a second move are also listed.

Mobilization and relocation of the Confederate memorial is expected to be completed within 3-4 weeks.  City archeologists have conducted a preliminary investigation and believe the memorial to be in a stable position to move it.  As the move proceeds, if any subsurface site conditions deviate from their findings, the contractor will stop to allow the archaeology team to further investigate. 

Once the memorial is removed from its current site, the City’s archaeology team will conduct further investigations underground and the surrounding area.

View the agenda memo and details.

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