Honorary names: Middletown wants to define how it renames parks, roads and buildings after people

A new policy and criteria for the honorary designations of public roads, parks, and buildings is being considered by Middletown City Council.

The issue was raised in October when retired police officer and veteran David Shortt and resident Deb Morrison went to the city Park Board with the request to rename Flemming Park after Pfc. Patrick L. Kessler, a Medal of Honor winner from World War II.

However, because the future of that park is uncertain, it was suggested that a section of Reinartz Boulevard between Clark and Charles streets be renamed for Kessler. The Park Board, which is an advisory body, forwarded the recommendation to City Council for action.

The Ohio National Guard Armory on South Main Street is named after Kessler.

At the Nov. 6 council meeting, Shortt made the presentation and request for the honorary designation. City Manager Doug Adkins recommended that council develop a policy and establish criteria on when and how to rename city parks, streets and other property. The last time the city made such as designation was in April 2007, when a stretch of Verity Parkway was named Todd Bell Memorial Way.

City officials modeled the proposed policy and criteria after a similar city of Dayton policy. Council is expected to give final approval to the proposed ordinance at its April 16 meeting.

The proposed policy that will provide appropriate opportunities to honor and memorialize citizens that have made outstanding contributions to the nation, state, city and community, officials said. The city also suggests recognitions ranging from donations to various programs to the designation of streets.

MORE: Request to rename street sparks closer look at policy

While public facilities or a public right of ways should be named after its principal function, its location or historic reference, it can be named after an important community event, organization or a well-known person whose contribution to the community, state or nation is related to the public facility or public right of way.

The proposed policy will limit the honorary designation of a public right of way to three blocks of the area associated with the honoree and cannot include an arterial road. The policy also prohibits public right of ways from being named after a living person or an existing company or corporation.

In addition to filing an application with the council clerk and paying a nonrefundable $500 filing fee, the proposed requirements include:

• An endorsement by a member of City Council, the City Manager, a member of the city Park Board (for an application relating to a park) or a member of the City Planning Commission (for an application relating to any facility or right of way other than a park).

• A statement of support from an association or organization if the requested location is in their area.

• A statement citing the reasons and detailing the significant contributions or significance of the designation.

• A statement as to the length of time the designation is requested to be in effect, which will be no longer than two years.

• A statement detailing the attempts to use other methods of honoring a person, event or organization and the reasons why these other methods are inappropriate.

• A petition supporting the designation signed by 51 percent of the abutting property owners.

Upon council approval, appropriate signage will be prepared and installed. After the two-year honorary designation expires, the city will remove the signage and make the sign available to the applicant. City officials said the application fee is expected to offset the majority of the costs.

Some honorary designations of Middletown public right of ways and facilites

  • Todd Bell Memorial Way
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Way
  • Jerry Lucas Court at Sunset Park
  • Robert "Sonny" Hill Jr. Community Center
  • Armbruster Nature Preserve,

SOURCE: City of Middletown

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