Virginia Beach group: Confederate statue should stay, with changes

Virginia Beach

(Photo courtesy; City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH (AP/WAVY) — A Virginia Beach commission has recommended that a Confederate monument in the city shouldn’t be removed, but instead historical context should be added in a new park and a second statue should be erected to honor African American heritage.

The Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission plans to officially make its recommendation to Virginia Beach City Council on Tuesday.

The group “determined that the removal of the statue, even if allowed by state law, would accomplish little in reconciling differences or promoting discussion on the impacts of slavery, the Civil War, segregation and discrimination.”

Instead of removing the statue, the group outlined other recommendations.

The proposal also suggests looking into whether a general history museum could be built nearby to tell a more “inclusive,” balanced and fair story of the community’s history.

It also suggested establishing a public park on the north side of the Princess Anne Courthouse that incorporates an aesthetic element such as a sculpture or statue that represents Virginia Beach’s African American heritage.

In 2018, parks and recreation estimated a park could cost more than $320,000.

The group will ask the council to approve an initial $50,000 — $10,000 to add signs and educational plaques and $40,000 for park design.

The city manager also noted in a Jan. 24 letter that there are at least two bills pending in the 2020 General Assembly that would alter state code in respect to removing war memorials.

Current state code prevents such war memorials for veterans from being removed.

The group’s presentation to City Council also noted the “statue is a polarizing issue with no solution that will address the concerns of all.”

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