Confederate monument in Columbia County sits atop unclaimed land

The land on which the confederate monument stands in Columbia County still has no confirmed owner. The question remains, does the city or the county own the property? County commissioners decided not to take action at the commission meeting because they believe the city of Lake City owns the land.
Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Sitting a few hundred feet away from the Columbia County Courthouse and Lake City offices is a monument commemorating the Battle of Olustee. However, some would like to see the monument moved.

That can’t be done until one question is answered: who owns the land on which the monument sits.

Columbia County Commissioner Ron Williams does not think the land below the monument belongs to the county.

“The board did not take any action on that because we did not feel that we had any ownership of this park and to be able to quitclaim a deed to the city of Lake City,” said Williams. “In the 40 years that I’ve been on the board, the county has had no ownership whatsoever to this Olustee Park.”

Lake City’s Mayor Stephen Witt believes it is essential to determine who owns the land before taking any action.

“If they did a quitclaim deed, that takes the issue off the table. It’s not saying that they owned it, and they are giving it to us. It’s just saying if we did own it here it is.”

So two questions remain, who owns the land, and what happens now?

“We will have to do a title search to be sure that we are in the right position. I do believe the city owns it, and that is where it will end up at the end of this discussion,” said Witt.

The city has received one rough estimate of $150,000 to move the monument and maintain it. In the case that the city does own the land, the mayor wants to proceed with caution before making a decision.

The county commission will support them.

“We stand behind the decision the city makes on their park and the monument that is in their park.”

According to the mayor, the next step includes going back to their attorney and requesting a title search. Then they will receive a title opinion, which they hope will provide some clarity as to who owns the land below the monument.

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