Tuskegee mayor wants downtown square owned by Daughters of Confederacy

Tuskegee mayor wants downtown square owned by Daughters of Confederacy
Mayor Ford wants to remove the Confederate statue on the square and to expand Hwy. 29. The DOC says it's not selling. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Mayor Ford wants to remove the Confederate statue on the square and to expand Hwy. 29. The DOC says it's not selling. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

TUSKEGEE, AL (WSFA) - Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford insists he wants no controversy and no friction over the downtown square, but it may come down to that and perhaps wind up in court.

"We respect Southern heritage. The way you resolve a disagreement is to take it to court," Ford said.
 
First, the background to why that may happen.
 
The city doesn't own the land that makes up the downtown square. It belongs to the Daughters of the Confederacy, and it has for decades. The mayor wants to change that first by seeing if the group will simply deed the land to the city. If not, Tuskegee will attempt to buy it.

"Once it's condemned for public purpose, then we can appraise it for fair market value," said Ford.

Although city leaders have an agreement to maintain the property, the mayor says it never made sense to him why Tuskegee never owned it outright.

The Daughters of the Confederacy State President Linda Edwards said the group has no intentions of selling the property, but she wouldn't expand beyond that. Edwards referred all questions to DOC's attorney. Attempts to reach that attorney were unsuccessful.

Mayor Ford has two ideas for the square; remove the Confederate statue and place it in the Tuskegee cemetery.

"That's where it will be revered and respected," Ford said.

The second thought is to physically divide the square and extend U.S. Highway 29 right up the middle to alleviate what he considers major traffic problems around the square.

Mayor Ford has formally contacted the Alabama Department of Transportation to look into the feasibility of extending Hwy. 29 through the property. It's not clear how long that study will take, or when.

"I want traffic to be able to flow through the city of Tuskegee," he said.

Therein lies another potential roadblock. Del McCorvey favors removing the Confederate statue, but he wants to leave the downtown square alone.
 
"It's a nice place to walk in the middle of town, and it's very quiet," McCorvey said.

Another business owner who declined to go on camera said 'absolutely not!' to the idea.

Roy Woods, on the other hand, is all for it.
 
"You got 18-wheelers passing through and right here on the corner they have to swing all the way out and cause many accidents," said Woods.

Both sides have yet to come together leaving the popular square's future on shaky ground.

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