Selectmen To Set Rules For Naming Town Facilities

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Board of Selectmen News

The Eldredge Public Library.  FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM With two worthy candidates nominated to have parts of the community center named after them, selectmen have decided that the town needs a policy on the naming of town facilities.

At their Dec. 5 meeting, the parks and recreation commission voted unanimously to support naming the community center gymnasium after the late Gary Anderson; they also unanimously favored naming the lobby in honor of the late Thomas Sparks. Last week, board of selectmen Chairman Cory Metters said town staff members have asked for guidance and provided a draft policy based on ones from surrounding communities.

Given the two pending nominations, “It would be good to have something in place,” Selectman Dean Nicatro said.

Gary Anderson, who died last September at the age of 63, served on the parks and recreation commission for 15 years, most of them as chairman. He was instrumental in the creation of Volunteer Park, the Chatham Play-around playground, and the community center itself. Anderson was present when the ribbon was cut on the new facility in 2007. Anderson was nominated by friend and former selectman David Whitcomb, who would like to have the gymnasium named in Anderson’s honor.

Thomas Sparkes served as a teacher and coach in the Chatham schools for 17 years, spending the following 17 years as principal of the Chatham Intermediate School. He was active in his church and civic groups and was a volunteer firefighter. His daughter, Monomoy School Committee member Sharon Stout, asked the commission to name the community center lobby in his honor, recognizing his efforts to raise money for the original community building on Hitching Post Road.

The draft policy gives selectmen the sole authority to name town facilities and stipulates that facilities cannot be named after staff or committee members who are currently serving the town. Once named, a facility should retain that name for at least 25 years, the policy reads. The document favors naming parts of buildings rather than entire facilities. Nicastro said he favors this provision.

“I’m not sure whether an entire building should be named after anybody. George Washington, maybe,” he said.

Selectman Shareen Davis said it’s entirely appropriate, for instance, that the Eldredge Public Library bears the name of the man who paid to build it.

The draft rules include a “cool-down” provision for nominations.

“In order to avoid personal or collective prejudice, favoritism, political pressure and/or temporary popularity, the board shall take no action on an application to name or rename a building, part of a building, or any town facility for a period of at least one year following receipt of a proposal, unless otherwise waived by the board,” the draft policy reads.

“I think it’s way too long,” Selectman Jeffrey Dykens said.

On a motion by Dykens, the board voted to have staff revise the regulations to reflect their concerns, and to bring the policy back to the board “with all alacrity” for approval.