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Charlottesville Committee Reviewing Suggestions for Park Names

Posted: Updated: Jun 05, 2017 12:18 PM
Historic Resources Committee meeting in Charlottesville City Hall Historic Resources Committee meeting in Charlottesville City Hall
Lee Park in Charlottesville (FILE IMAGE) Lee Park in Charlottesville (FILE IMAGE)
Jackson Park in Charlottesville (FILE IMAGE) Jackson Park in Charlottesville (FILE IMAGE)
Dede Smith Dede Smith
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The debate over renaming Lee and Jackson parks in downtown Charlottesville filled a conference room inside City Hall Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, May 24, the city's Historic Resources Committee (HRC) held a special meeting to review the submitted names in a survey.

The committee is looking to make a recommendation to City Council on potential names for the two public parks named after Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Johnathan “Stonewall” Jackson.

The committee whittled down a long list of names written in by people in the community as part of an online survey.

Some suggestions for renaming Lee Park include “Community”, “Central”, “Market Street”, or “Festival” park.

While Jackson Park suggestions are “Court Square”, “Courthouse”, “The Commons”, or “Memory” park. 

"Conceptual names have a greater possibility for having a unifying force for the community," said HRC member Margaret O’Bryant.

"We felt that there really wasn't a historic reference that didn't have conflicting histories," HRC member and former-Charlottesville City Councilor Dede Smith said.

One member of the committee chose to not cast her vote for any of the suggestions. She says the future park name should be left up to voters as part of a ballot referendum.

Other HRC members had issues with the survey, which allowed anyone to vote as many times as they wanted.

"To be able to weight it to those who have the time and passion to vote lots and lots of times is just simply not democratic, I'm sorry," said Smith.

A final decision rests in the hands of Charlottesville City Council, which may happen as soon as June 5.

"The City Council already knows what they want and what they don't want. If they don't want it, it goes right in the trash can," Mason Pickett said.

The former chair of the Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces, Don Gathers, says he hopes councilors keep the general public’s suggestions in mind.

"Let's look hard at the list of what the citizens have voiced their opinions on, and try to move forward and move ahead on that list," said Gathers.

Meanwhile, the North Downtown Residents Associations (NDRA) polled its members on what they thought should be done with the statue of General Robert E. Lee in Lee Park:

Option Votes Percentage
Remove it and place at another site in the city 14 11%
Remove it and do not place it at another site in the city 16 12%
Leave it in place without any change 17 13%
Leave it in place and add a statue to honor civil rights leaders 23 17%
Leave in in place with historical context added 63 47%

NDRA notes that this is not a statistically significant survey.