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Lake City’s quitclaim request denied by Columbia County Commission, Olustee Confederate monument will stay put

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 12:04 AM EDT
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LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) - Columbia County Commissioners are keeping Olustee Park, and that means the Olustee Confederate Monument is staying put for now. The city of Lake City asked to take over the property, but on Thursday night, county leaders said “no”.

After a lengthy and tense debate, Columbia County Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to deny Lake City’s request for a quitclaim deed to Olustee Park. That means the county controls the fate of the confederate monument. Commissioner Ron Williams voted in dissent, which sparked outrage.

“I’m going to file a lawsuit against y’all if you don’t shut him up,” said a member of the public.

“You don’t shut me up,” said Commissioner Williams.

Chair of the commission Rocky Ford, said he voted to deny the request because after the analysis from the law firm Douglas and Douglas was released, leaders with Lake City did not appear at the meeting to discuss turning over the property.

“I wasn’t opposed to quitclaim if they would have asked us to quitclaim the park over to them. I would have quitclaimed the park over to them with stipulations as to what they can do with the monument,” explained Commissioner Ford.

RELATED STORY: Land study shows Olustee Park is owned by Columbia County

He believes city leaders put this issue on the county commission. In the future Commissioner Ford, thinks they will consider moving the monument or leaving it in place.

“I’m not opposed to moving the monument to the battlefield or to the cemetery. I’m definitely not going to demolish the monument,” said Commissioner Ford.

One Columbia County resident supported the decision. Danny Roberts said although this vote was about land and not a monument, it was really about the monument.

“The monument has brought it up. It seems like that is the issue that has gone around the country right now, to do away with the history. That is something we don’t want to happen in this town,” explained Roberts.

RELATED STORY: Supporters rally to protect a monument commemorating the Battle of Olustee

He believes rather than moving the monument; more could be added to represent everyone who fought in the Olustee Battle.

“That is what a park is for. You put more monuments in there for people to sit around and look at. You don’t take them down and destroy them,” said Roberts.

RELATED STORY: Confederate monument in Columbia County sits atop unclaimed land

He thinks ultimately the decision on what to do with the monument should be left up to the people of the county because Roberts said it was given to the people of Columbia County.

Commissioner Ford thinks this debate is far from over.

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