TALLADEGA, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama law passed by the Legislature last session and signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey, is being put to the test in Talladega.
The monument in question is not a Confederate monument, but it does fall under the purview of the law. The Big Springs Monument has been in downtown Talladega since 1968. It’s a tribute to Andrew Jackson, and also a reminder of the Big Springs, the area’s main source of water for many years.
If you try to stop to see the monument today, though, you won’t have much luck. It’s closed, gates locked and cones placed around it. It’s been ruled structurally unstable, and it needs $300,000 in repairs.
“The past several decades, the monument has not been maintained to the standards that this community deserves and as a result, has gone through a period of deterioration,” said City Manager Patrick Bryant.
That’s where the new monuments law comes in. Bryant says when the city government realized how much work the monument needed, they wanted to weigh the options, from restoring it to having it torn down. Bryant says demolition was never really on the table, and after the legislature passed the monuments law, it cemented their decision. They’re going to repair the monument, not tear it down.
The monument falls under Alabama’s law, because it was built in 1968. The law applies to all monuments that have stood on public land for more than 40 years, regardless of why they stand.
Gil Lamon was traveling from North Carolina to Texas, when he stopped at the Piggly Wiggly next to the monument. He stopped to check it out.
“I was coming to the store here and noticed the nice trees and the architecture. You don’t usually see stuff like that anymore, and then just started reading the placards,” he said.
Lamon says he’s glad the monument was there, to help him learn a little bit more about the city he’s visiting. However, other rural communities could be facing an unintended consequence of the monuments law. They may be required to spend tens of thousands of dollars to make repairs to aging monuments. The law leaves in place a $25,000 fine for municipalities that do away with theirs.
Bryant says the process is underway to have new plans drawn for the monument, but says they will be as close to the original as possible. That’s also required under law.