Parksley Proposes Sale of Confederate Monument; Hearing In August

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By Carol Vaughn —

Parksley officials will hold a public hearing on their proposal to sell a plot of land and the Confederate monument standing on it to the Virginia division of Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The hearing, which likely will be scheduled for the August town council meeting, is required by law.

The Parksley Town Council in June voted to sell the property, which is at the corner of Cassatt Avenue and Mary Street, for one dollar.

The monument, which depicts a Confederate soldier, is one of two Confederate monuments on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The other is in Eastville.

The Parksley monument cost $1,675 and was paid for by donations, according to newspaper articles from the time. It was unveiled Oct. 20, 1899, before a large crowd.

Newspaper articles from the era detail fundraising efforts — dinners, bazaars, and more — undertaken over a several-year period by the Harmanson-West Camp, Confederate Volunteers, based in Jenkins Bridge.

Still, it is unclear whether the town of Parksley actually owns the property.
A deed recorded Feb. 2, 1903, said the lot was sold for $1 by the Parksley Land and Improvement Co. to the Harmanson-West Camp, Confederate Volunteers.

“So very likely, we don’t own it, but in the event that we do own it…we voted to sell it,” said Mayor Frank Russell.

Town attorney Tom Dix told the council he has researched the history of the property and said Accomack County lists the town as the property owner.

Dix said the contract with the Sons of Confederate Veterans will stipulate that the monument should remain unchanged, and if not, it will be returned to the town.

“Even if there is a question about if the town owns it,” the deed can be written to say that whatever interest the town has in the property, it is conveying that to the organization, Dix said.

Greg Duncan, a Black minister and former Accomack County supervisor, spoke during a public comment period about the monument.

“I was hearing some rumblings about the statue. … What I’d like to recommend to the town, when you see the amount of division so many other localities have, I don’t need anybody to really recognize me, I don’t want anybody to give me anything.

“Sure, some people feel like so many things have happened in our past. Well, that’s what it was — in our past.

“So, what I want to see is for them to open up their daggone hearts and start showing love,” he said.

Russell, the newly elected mayor, led the charge on several measures at Monday’s meeting to bring increased order to town processes.

Those included Russell asking several employees by next month’s council meeting to submit written reports, including a treasurer’s report, a report from public works, and a report from the police department.

Russell asked the police chief for a comprehensive report on how the department handles, transports, and stores stolen money or property.

He asked Danny Siegert of the Public Works Department to submit sewage numbers for the past six months, along with a letter from the health department “stating what our target numbers should be and how long before we can hook up a new business.”

Russell also handed out a proposed social media policy.

Several residents during a public comment period earlier in the meeting expressed discontent with name-calling and other indecorous conduct on social media by some affiliated with the town.

“From what our citizens told us tonight, they are not happy with our social media presence, and I’m not, either. … There need to be constraints,” Russell said.

The policy was not voted on at the meeting, but the council voted to create a personnel committee, with its first job being to develop an employee handbook.

The town does not have such a document.

Additionally, the council voted to have accountant John Bowden look at the town’s finances and processes, at a cost of up to $2,000, to look for ways to improve efficiency and save money.

A public hearing was held on the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget, which includes no tax increases.