The three-member Mobile County Commission cast a rare split-vote Monday morning regarding funding to assist in preserving 60 acres at Historic Blakeley State Park in Baldwin County.
Commissioners voted 2-1 to provide $20,000 to help fund the Civil War-era conservation initiative, with Commission President Connie Hudson and District 1 Commissioner Marceria Ludgood voting in favor. The dissenting vote was by District 3 Commissioner Randall Dueitt.
The project, which is being headed up by the Conservation Fund, American Battlefield Trust and the University of South Alabama (USA), seeks to further conserve the history of an 1865 Union victory at the fort, which sits near where the Tensaw and Apalachee River intersect.
The 60 acres known as Blakeley Bluff is expected to contain valuable archaeological data related to the 16,000 Union soldiers who overran the Confederate base — 5,000 of whom were U.S. Colored Troops — making it one of the heaviest concentrations of African-American soldiers to participate in any one battle during the Civil War.
The commission’s contribution is being supplied out of District 1 funds. Dueitt questioned the project during a pre-conference work session held last Thursday, noting Blakeley is in Baldwin County. However, questions were held over until Monday morning as Ludgood was absent.
Ludgood said Monday morning she’s supportive of the Blakeley Bluff project because it’s in a state park and it’s significant for Black Alabamians. She also noted USA is the custodian of the land.
Over the last several years Ludgood has spearheaded an initiative to secure cultural assets considered to be reflective of Mobile’s diversity. During the same meeting, Ludgood had an appropriation approved to provide the Rosa A. Lott Historic Preservation Society with $50,000 for the restoration of the Lott House in Citronelle.
“I think it’s a good project for our area. I think it’s a part of our history and heritage we need to preserve,” Ludgood said. “I believe the importance of the project really outweighs the fact it’s on the ground in Baldwin County.”
Dueitt said his vote was not meant as an offense to Ludgood or the Blakeley Bluff project itself.
“I’ve taken a Mobile County-first stance,” Dueitt told Lagniappe. “We have needs in our parks. It’s still tax dollars from Mobile County citizens and I just can’t approve spending them in another county.”
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