A crew hired by Denton County officials will search Tuesday below the downtown sidewalks near the Confederate soldier monument in an attempt to determine the type of pipes running to the monument’s two fountains.
It’s the latest installment set up by county officials to publicly address questions that have caused a debate within a wider discussion about the future of this Confederate relic: whether its two water fountains once operated, and whether they were available only for white people.
Andy Eads, the county’s Precinct 4 commissioner who is running to replace Mary Horn as Denton County judge, pulled the issue into the spotlight within two weeks of Election Day after several years of the local NAACP president calling for it be addressed. Eads approved for a company to conduct ground-penetrating radar to determine whether pipes carrying water ever ran to the fountains.
Eads has said the timing to address the issue is perfect because crews are renovating the sidewalks around the Courthouse on the Square anyway, giving the county a feasible opening to take action on a sensitive topic.
And now, on the morning of the midterm elections, an Aubrey-based company will dig to inspect further what kind of pipes lie below the surface. The dig will begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Crews were expected to remove the concrete around the monument on Monday evening, a county spokeswoman said.
County spokeswoman Dawn Cobb said in an email the county has spent about $1,200 in the past two weeks in pursuit of answering the water fountain question. With the Election Day move, Cobb wrote, “The county is simply taking the next logical step to confirm what the ground penetrating radar system earlier indicated.”
Eads’ Election Day opponent, Diana Leggett, ran against the Denton County NAACP president, Willie Hudspeth, in the Democratic primary election. She declined to comment on the record about the recent moves, but she has been a critic of the Confederate monument in the past. Hudspeth, who has said publicly that turning on the water would be positive symbolic step in the right direction toward healing wounds caused by racist policies of the past, has indicated these latest steps are a good look for the Denton community.
Hudspeth’s argument for turning on the water has been met with resistance from the current sitting county judge, Horn. Just last Tuesday, after Eads’ radar operation, Horn reminded Hudspeth during Commissioners Court even if pipes are found, water still won’t be turn back on because the fountains do not meet legal requirements established by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and because the pipes are probably made of lead.