Memphis park renaming issue on agenda, again, for City Council

By Kevin McKenzie
March 4, 2013

One member of the City Council is prepared to fortify the council’s action last month that renamed three Confederate-themed Memphis parks, but another will advise his colleagues to wait for a committee to listen to the public and make recommendations.

The renaming of (Nathan Bedford) Forrest Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Confederate Park is one of several items on the council’s agenda Tuesday.

On Feb. 5, following controversy over a privately funded granite marker identifying Forrest Park and proposed state legislation in Nashville that would ban such name changes, the council by resolution changed the name of Forrest Park to Health Science Park, Jefferson Davis Park to Mississippi River Park and Confederate Park to Memphis Park.

But while the resolution changed the park names immediately, two related ordinances continued working their way through the legislative process. Those ordinances have reached their final stage, third reading at Tuesday’s meeting, making them ripe for a vote.

Council member Lee Harris said Monday that he’ll ask the council to vote on his proposed ordinance to rename the parks also by ordinance and not wait for the recommendations from the committee appointed to review the renaming of the parks.

“This issue is moderately difficult, but not complicated,” Harris said. “I think the City Council is perfectly capable of making a decision here and getting this done.” .

Council member Myron Lowery, whose competing ordinance recommended changing the name of Forrest Park to Forrest-Wells Park to also honor civil rights and women suffragist Ida B. Wells, said the decision on both ordinances should be postponed to give the process time to work.

“It makes no sense for us to vote on something for which a committee has been established and has not yet held its first meeting to listen to the public,” Lowery said.

Meanwhile, a group called Citizens to Save Our Parks sought support for the original park names with an advertisement in The Commercial Appeal Sunday that included the names and contact information for council members.

The council meeting is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main.

© 2013 Memphis Commercial Appeal

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