What’s in a name? A lot when it comes to Aspen’s parks
October 12, 2009
ASPEN – Governments rely on regulations and policies to function, even when it comes to naming a public park.
Up until earlier this summer, the city of Aspen didn’t have such a policy. So this past March when local resident Frank Peters came in front of the Aspen City Council asking that the Yellow Brick Park be re-named to Charles Brandt Park, officials weren’t able to approve it without referring to a regulatory document.
“In the past, facilities that have had naming needs have been presented to City Council for discussion and approval individually,” wrote Stephen Ellsperman, parks and open space director, in a memo to council. “In most cases, the facility names have been approved with much discussion and with no clear guidance from an official policy.”
Because there are a number of facilities that are currently slated for naming needs, as well as recent requests that have come from citizens suggesting or requesting name changes, the parks department recently devised a naming policy.
Parks officials plan to recommend to the council the names of three parks within the next month, based on criteria they devised from doing an extensive review of policies created by more than 20 municipalities and governmental organizations.
Aspen’s policy prioritizes park names based on:
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• Geographic or common use identities;
• Historical or cultural significance;
• Natural or geological features;
• A deceased individual or family that has made a significant land contribution, when naming has been a condition of the donation;
• A person who has played a large part in protecting a particular parcel of land for public benefit and has been deceased at least five years.
Whether the parks department or the council will agree on changing Yellow Brick to Charles Brandt Park remains to be seen. Brandt died in 2001 from cancer. He was a local attorney and served as Aspen School Board president for five years. He oversaw the development of the elementary school.
Ellsperman said name changes to parks, trails and open space are generally discouraged, unless the present name causes confusion due to properties with similar names.