A recent letter complained about the abbreviation SoBu for our city. I agree. If it’s supposed to suggest a comparison with hip neighborhoods in Manhattan, it fails. It sounds more like an upland village in Laos or Thailand.

But there is a larger problem. The name “South Burlington” inevitably concedes our role as a subsidiary of our larger neighbor, from whom we separated in 1864. All of the other towns and cities in the area proclaim their own identity in their names; we do not.

Only one other town in the state has a name former like ours: South Hero. But that cannot be considered as inferior to its counterpart, North Hero. They are equal.

I suggest that we consider renaming our city.

This is not an unprecedented move. In 1999, the town of Sherburne changed its name to Killington.

There are three problems to doing this. One is that no obvious substitute suggests itself. We do not have a river, mountain  or other natural feature that can easily be adapted, nor are there public figures in our past who might merit the honor. The second is that any change is going to cost money, and we have enough expenses as it is. The third is, simply, public inertia. We haven’t done it up to now, so why should we do it at all?

I have no answers to these objections, but if I can start people thinking about the ultimate value of such a change in establishing an independent public identity for our city, that’ll be enough.

Harry Orth

South Burlington

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