When city commissioners consider the future of the Munn Park Confederate monument on Monday morning, they’re expecting lots of comments from residents. So today they set some special rules for the meeting:
- People who want to speak will be asked to place their name and address on a sign-in sheet.
- Speakers will be called in the order in which they signed up.
- Comments will be limited to three minutes per speaker, rather than the customary five minutes.
City Attorney Tim McCausland said he drafted the procedures (see them below) in order to maintain decorum and efficiency as commissioners take up the emotional topic.
The resolution that the commission will discuss (read it below) calls for leaving the 1910 monument in place and asking the city staff to draft a Munn Park plan that would allow other monuments honoring Lakeland’s history and diversity to be placed nearby.
Commissioners said this morning they have received roughly 6,000 emails and phone calls on the divisive issue. Many residents see the statue as an homage to Southern heritage that must stay; others argue that the monument should be removed to another place of respect since the center of the town square is not the appropriate place to glorify the Civil War and the statue doesn’t represent a forward-looking city.
The monument to the Confederate dead was placed in the center of Munn Park in 1910 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
There’s another change in procedure planned for Monday morning: Usually the commission reserves the first hour of its 9 a.m. Monday meetings for proclamations and presentations and then begins the business portion of the meeting at 10. This Monday, they aim to finish the ceremonial portion by 9:30 and then go immediately to the business portion of the meeting.
Commissioners hope to get through the regular agenda items quickly and then move into the discussion of the Munn Park monument.
The sign-in sheet for speakers will remain available throughout the meeting, so speakers won’t have to arrive early to sign up, city Communications Director Kevin Cook said.
If the 112-seat, third-floor commission room fills up, plans are being made for an overflow space where people will be able to see and hear the proceedings on a large screen, Cook said.
Mayor Howard Wiggs said at this morning’s agenda study session that he’ll emphasize order and civil discussion on Monday: “If anybody gets out of hand, I’m going to recess the meeting. It might be for two minutes, but I’m not going to let the meeting get out of hand.”