Council Weighs Name Change for Dorset Park

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Thursday May 15, 2014

Dorset Park has been a cornerstone of the South Burlington community for years. The park boasts 70 beautiful acres, complete with a band shell for summer concerts, a pavilion for picnics, and many athletic fields. While the park is active year round, as the warmer months approach the space really comes alive with film nights, kite flying, and a number of Recreation and Parks Department hosted activities for all ages.

In November of 2013, thanks to the hard work of resident Jay Zaetz and numerous volunteers, the park became home to a project that had been four years in the making: a Veterans Memorial.  A Pathway of Honor leads visitors around three monuments including  an oversized dog tag, a 10 foot tall cylinder commemorating the theaters of wars, and a monument with the insignias of all branches of the military inscribed upon it. Pavers purchased by residents and engraved with the names of local veterans serve as a solemn reminder of past service and dedication.  

Several months ago, Zaetz, on behalf of the Veterans Committee, came before the City Council to ask them to consider a proposal to change the name of Dorset Park to Veterans Memorial Park,  given the significant addition to the park’s landscape.  

At the May 5 City Council meeting, the proposed resolution to change the name of Dorset Park to Veterans Memorial Park was presented for consideration. The resolution acknowledges the volunteers who contributed their time and monetary resources to plan and build the memorial and states that the memorial will stand as a lasting tribute to the men and women, past and present, who honored the United States with their service.

The proposed resolution reads: “Now, therefore, Be It Resolved, that the City Council hereby approves that the official name of Dorset Park be changed to Veterans Memorial Park and furthermore, Be It Resolved, that this change will take effect at the dedication of the Memorial, scheduled for May 17, 2014.” 

One concern was raised regarding the proposed name change by an attending SB citizen, Joe Merone, who is the president of the homeowners association for the Village at Dorset Park. Merone explained that there are 167 residents who had yet to be apprised of this potential change; he wanted the time to discuss this with them and gain their feedback. “This is not about the memorial,” Merone stressed, “I just don’t want to rush into this agreement to line up with when the dedication is taking place.” 

Merone’s points brought up the larger issue of gathering further resident input on such a significant change for the city. Helen Riehle suggested holding a public forum in the near future and Meaghan Emery thought a link on the city website could be another valuable avenue to solicit feedback. One alternative suggested by councilors was the park within a park concept. For example, naming a portion of the park Veterans Memorial Park at Dorset Park.   

Chair Pam Mackenzie said,“I cannot even begin to thank everyone involved and the broader message it sends, but I want to make sure we haven’t missed any due diligence pieces.” 

Zaetz and Farnham thanked the city council for considering the resolution and although they hope at least a portion of the park will be re-named in the near future, the May 17 dedication ceremony  and community celebration will proceed as planned. 

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent