Veterans group asks city to rename two downtown parks

White it might be implied that General Joseph Warren Park and Soldiers and Sailors Park in Warren honor the contributions of Warren County veterans, a veterans group wants to make that explicit.

Warren City Council discussed a letter received from the Warren County United Veterans Council during the March meeting held on Monday night.

The proposal from the Veterans Council petitioned council to change the name of Gen. Joseph Warren Park and Soldiers and Sailors Park in downtown Warren to, respectively, Gen. Joseph Warren Veterans Memorial Park and Soldiers and Sailors Veterans Memorial Park.

City Manager Nancy Freenock said the issue of renaming the parks had been discussed in past meetings between the veterans group and the city.

Councilman John Lewis asked if there were “any regulations” that would prohibit renaming the two parks.

“We looked to see if there are any restrictions,” said Freenock. “We really can’t find any.”

Councilman Sam Harvey asked if there is “any functional purpose to this.”

“Would they be willing to take the title (to the parks),” said Freenock. “They said no.”

“General Warren Park, that is how it should remain,” said Mayor Maurice Cashman.

“The other one seems redundant,” said Councilman Gregory Fraser.

Cashman explained “I think you’re just adding words that make things more difficult,” noting that Warren was named after General Warren and he “would hate to see that taken away.”

Freenock said she tried to refer this item to the Parks & Recreation Commission “and they refused.”

Harvey proposed having someone come from the Veterans Council and explain the reason for the change.

“If I remember the conversations… (it) was because of the tradition of practice on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day” at the parks “that they would like to make it a memorial,” said Councilman John Lewis. “Particularly for the Vietnam vets. They have had traditions of Missing Man Dinners down there. We’ve had the Civil War re-enactments down there. It brings awareness of what the soldiers endured during the time of the combat of the nation.”

“I think the bottom line is, I’m a veteran; I don’t see how changing the name affects it,” said Harvey. “We’ve offered to let them have the parks” at no cost.

“We have a good amount of history… about these parks, how they got to be where they are today” said City Planner David Hildebrand. “Soldiers and Sailors was originally with the borough, (then) to the county and came back to the city. The Warren Park was here in the original 1795 layout of the city. So there’s a lot of history there.”

“There is no deed for General Warren Park,” said Freenock.

“Not that we have found,” Hildebrand added.

Councilman Dr. Howard Ferguson asked if there would be any park where the name could change. “Is there a park that we simply name it the Veterans Memorial Park,” he asked. “Is there a park somewhere that does not have a compelling sense of history?”

Cashman asked, if a park was designated a memorial park, whether anyone would really want to undertake moving all the memorials to that park. “They would resist that, I’m sure,” he added.

Council elected to invite a representative from the Veterans Council to discuss the situation further at a future meeting.