Charlottesville Releases Top Choices for New Names of City Parks

Posted: Updated: Apr 06, 2018 11:31 AM

The results are in, and the people of Charlottesville have spoken in the latest park renaming survey hosted by the city.

Court Square Park was the clear winner for the park that contains the Stonewall Jackson statue, but there’s a little more confusion when it comes to the one with the Robert E. Lee statue.

The city used two different methods to calculate the results and depending on which one you choose, Emancipation Park could be renamed Market Street Park or Vinegar Hill Park.

A straight-up tally of votes shows Market Street Park as the winner, but using a weighted calculation based on voters' first, second, and third choices, Vinegar Hill Park then becomes the winner.

The problem with renaming the park to Vinegar Hill is that this name has already been designated to another location.

"Vinegar Hill is a name City Council has already given to the western end of the Downtown Mall, so there's a park planned for that end of the mall, there's signage that's gonna be put up about Vinegar Hill's history, so one question for City Council will be where do they want to recognize Vinegar Hill," says Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville's director of communications.

Of the city’s population of a little over 45,000 people, 7,535 inhabitants participated in the survey and close to 53 percent of those say they would like the opportunity to recast their votes after the city narrows down some of the options.

"I just like the people, the idea of the people suggesting and choosing a name that they would like 'cause that's the way Charlottesville is supposed to be," says Mary Carey, who lives in Charlottesville and was the driving force behind the renaming campaign.

Carey authored a petition and collected signatures back in October in an attempt to get council to consider renaming the parks. In February, she delivered that petition to City Council.

"The happy part is that they gave the citizens a chance to make a choice and to choose what they desire for a park for a chance, instead of just going behind closed doors and throwing something at them," says Carey.

Personally, Carey likes the name "Market Street Park" for the one that's currently called Emancipation Park.

The city said it would not consider Lee or Jackson as name options, but it still received 1,825 write-in votes for Lee. That’s more than either Market Street or Vinegar Hill received.

"City Council has decided that they're not considering that, and one of the reasons is they want to tell a more complete story about Charlottesville's history and its relationship to race and white supremacy," says Wheeler.

These results will be presented to City Council at its meeting on Monday, April 16, during which councilors will vote on next steps.

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