Agreement over SCV Cemetery Marker Reached
City officials, Sons of Confederate Veterans finalize deal to move troubled stone across the street.
By Michael Theis
July 8, 2011
After weeks of winding through a sometimes byzantine bureaucratic process, it appears that a marker noting the location of a Confederate cemetery will soon have a new home, the foundation of which will be built by the city. Yesterday, officials from the Public Works Department, the Maury Commons Condominium Owners Association and the Sons of Confederate Veterans local Camp 1722 met at Mary Commons and agreed on the details of relocating the monument.
According to the agreement the monument must be located 30 inches away from the sidewalk. The Fredericksburg Public Works Department will construct a new footer for the monument at no cost to the SCV. In turn, the SCV will have the stone moved across the street to the new site from its current location on a traffic island near the intersection of Barton and George streets. The SCV will also place paving stones leading from the sidewalk to the marker, so that no grass is trampled.
In April 2009, the SCV received an excavation permit from the city and quickly installed and commemorated the marker. Four months later, in September 2009, the City Council voted to move the SCV marker off site. In November 2009, the SCV sued the city to prevent the removal of the marker, but eventually lost. In court, the city argued that the issuance of the building permit didn’t bind the city to anything other than a foundation for the monument.
Almost immediately following the ruling authorizing the removal of the marker from its current spot the Maury Commons Condominium Association voted to allow a local chapter of the SCV to site the marker on their property.
However, that required an excavation permit from the Public Works Department. Initially, the Public Works Department thought the marker could be located within 12 inches of the sidewalk. But during the application process, the Public Works Department learned that the proposed site lies within a city easement extending 30 inches beyond the sidewalk and asked the SCV to site the monument outside of that boundary.
The Maury Commons Condominium Owners Association was hesitant to site the marker too far inside their property for fear that interested pedestrians would trample the grass.
This delay frustrated local SCV officials, who lobbied for a City Council resolution seeking approval of the move. No such resolution ever materialized. In the meantime, Doug Fawcett, Fredericksburg director of public works, said that he dispatched a survey team to ascertain the true location of the easement boundary. It was before the staked out boundary that yesterdays meeting took place.
"Finally there will be an end," said Roy Perry, head of SCV Camp 1722. "This is so cool, their cooperation at this point after everything. All we have to do is move the monument from the across the street to the slab that the city’s building for us."
Dale Hundley, adjutant of SCV Camp 1722, says that the cemetery is located on the property of Mary Commons, including a portion which he believes lies undisturbed underneath the Barton and George street parking lots.
"The bodies were never moved from this area at all," said Hundley. "The school cut way into the burial grounds, they uncovered a lot of remains when the constructed this building."
The marker notes the presence of 51 Confederate graves located on the southern side of the Maury Commons property. Immediately to the north lies another historic but all but vanished black cemetery called Potters Field. The Confederate soldiers buried at Maury Commons were interred there before the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. The graves belong to soldiers from across the Confederacy. They most likely were the victims of infectious diseases which plagued both armies during the Civil War.
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