City Council Delays Renaming Downtown Charlottesville Parks
The names for Emancipation and Justice parks in downtown Charlottesville are staying the same for at least another two months following a City Council decision.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The names for Emancipation and Justice parks in downtown Charlottesville are staying the same for at least another two months following a City Council decision.
On Monday, April 16, council decided that it will send out another survey to the public, but with names and conditions narrowed down.
Council voted to rename the parks from Lee and Jackson to Emancipation and Justice in June of 2017.
After people spoke out against those changes, council sent out a survey back in February asking for public input. That survey turned back a wide variety of results, so now council is looking to further narrow its options.
"It's going to be really hard, given the richness of Charlottesville,” says Councilor Mike Signer.
City Councilors have been grappling with changing the names of Emancipation and Justice parks for almost a year now. In February, council was spurred on to rename them after receiving a petition from a Charlottesville activist who'd collected 500 signatures in an effort to change the parks' names.
"I just think it's a matter of us narrowing it down to a few for each, and I do think we owe it to the public one more round,” says Councilor Heather Hill.
At Monday night’s meeting, councilors again looked at the best way to rename both parks.
One man says he wants Emancipation Park to be renamed to Swanson Legacy Park. Gregory Swanson was the first African-American admitted to the law school at the University of Virginia.
“I'm here to express support for Swanson Legacy Park, which was, as City Manager Jones indicated, the top eligible vote-getter among write-in votes,” says Jim Hingeley, a Charlottesville resident.
Swanson Legacy Park was a popular write-in option, even though it’s not Mayor Nikuyah Walker or Councilor Wes Bellamy’s first choice.
"I wonder how much time he spent on First Street, or Westhaven, or in our communities tutoring kids,” says Bellamy.
Councilors agreed to make another survey available online and send it out in the mail through utility bills.
Options for renaming Emancipation Park are Market Street Park, Central Park, Library Park, Swanson Legacy Park, and a write-in option.
"I see overwhelmingly this community wants place names,” says Councilor Kathy Galvin.
Options for renaming Justice Park are Court Square Park, Courthouse Park, keeping its name as Justice Park, Memorial Park, and a write-in option.
“There's a huge community support for a neutral choice, I think, because they see the wisdom and the difficulty of choosing one person,” says Signer.
Only those who live in Charlottesville city limits will be allowed to take the survey, and you can only choose one option for each park. Councilors plan to make sure only city residents are weighing in by making people provide proof of city residence by providing their address or alternate option.
City Council will discuss the updated survey results in July.