Letter – Process needed for naming things

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The naming of a building, road, park or park amenity is generally permanent. As such, public input should be part of the process. It should not be decided by five, seven or even 15 people. There should be a consensus.  

I’m not saying the trails at Windsor Castle Park shouldn’t be named after Carter Williams; I’m saying the “process” that the town followed was just plain ugly.

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One week, Mayor Steve Bowman mentioned in a committee meeting that he thought it would be a good idea to name the trails (ALL the trails) at Windsor Castle Park after Mr. Williams (Feb. 26), and the next week, it was on the consent agenda at the Town Council meeting (March 5).

Bam! Done.  

I have done some research on how most municipalities name buildings, road, parks, amenities when they are naming them after a person and usually there is a process. When a naming is being considered, the board (or council) names a committee. The committee is responsible for researching, studying and offering the rationale for the proposed name. The committee then makes a recommendation to the board (or council).    

Some municipalities have public hearings for naming and renaming parks and park amenities.  Some notify adjoining landowners and give them the opportunity to weigh in. Not every municipality follows the same process, but most have a process that allows for public input.  

Not only was there no public input with this naming, but there was no time for anyone discuss the merits of the recommendation. Most of the people I know didn’t know about it until AFTER it had been approved by the council.  

My letter isn’t to cast shade on Carter Williams; he may very well be worthy of the trails being named after him. My letter is to encourage our town leaders to develop some process that the leaders must follow when naming a building, road, park or park amenity. 

I also encourage them to live by their commitment to “transparency.” Nothing about this was transparent.  


Renee Bevan