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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Put thought into selecting a new name for Day Park

Renaming Day Park is a good idea, as is recognizing the hotel and motel industry's contribution to its renovation. But the Decatur City Council was right to pause before accepting the name "Hospitality Nature Park."

"Day Park's got a reputation we want to get rid of," Police Chief Joel Gilliam said last week, referring to its history of sexual and criminal complaints. It also has a future to embrace — as a renovated part of the northern gateway to the city, part of the North Alabama Birding Trail and a link to a proposed bicycle trail.

The Decatur-Morgan County Hospitality Association funded the renovation with its support of a lodging tax that provided $300,000. The association asked the city Parks and Recreation Board to recommend the proposed new name, reflecting the local lodging industry's contributions. The board approved the request and forwarded it to the council.

But when the council took it up last week, Councilman Ronny Russell said, "I want the council to have a chance to discuss it. Naming a public facility is something that should stick around for a while. I have a reservation about that particular name."

Later, he and Mayor Don Kyle suggested inviting middle schools to have a contest to rename the park using the themes of hospitality and nature.

That would be a good move, as would soliciting name ideas from anybody who wants to contribute.

We doubt that in the mind of the average person, "Hospitality Nature Park" brings up images of the hotel and motel industry. "Hospitality" is one of those words that an industry applies to itself without achieving widespread use among lay people. If the park's name is to honor the lodging industry, somebody out there must have a better idea.

Another alternative is to choose a name with historical significance, perhaps honoring a historic figure. One person has suggested Stephen Decatur, the man for whom the city was named. A name that recalls specific events or stages of local history — like the name of the park across the Tennessee River, Rhodes Ferry Park — is another possibility. If the city goes that route, it still needs to recognize the hospitality industry appropriately at the renamed park.

The park's name should be something that people will remember and use easily in conversation. If it is not, we expect it will be a long time before they quit using "Day Park," whatever the sign says.

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