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Groups argue over park name around Veterans Tribute Trail, City Council tasked with finding solution

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Things got heated Wednesday night over the naming rights to the green space along Forest Street in Eau Claire.

The area is set to host the $2.2 million Veterans Tribute Trail. As you know, crews are set to break ground on the trail this year. However what to call the green space it will run next to led to some passionate public testimony before the Eau Claire Waterways and Parks Commission.

According to the City of Eau Claire, the green space has always been named “The Forest Street Special Area”. The Eau Claire County Veterans Tribute Foundation Inc. requested it be changed to “Veterans Tribute Park”.

Veterans Foundation members claim they’ve followed the city’s notification procedures for naming a park space and they have the right to name the area “Veterans Tribute Park”.

“They wanted to be a part of the naming process and they were. They had a 60-day comment period. They can send in names. They could vote no on the name,” said Mark Beckfield of the Eau Claire County Veterans Tribute Foundation Inc. “But overwhelmingly, I think it’s 87.8 percent of the general public who were involved enough to vote for the name, approved the name Veterans Tribute Park.”

However members of the North River Fronts neighborhood and the Forest Street Garden said they were not notified of the entire space being named, specifically, “Veterans Tribute Park”. They don’t want a space and garden important to their neighborhood to lose its name.

“For over a year this project has been referred to as the Veterans Tribute Trail, and every single document and every single statement by this organization has told the neighborhood that was the name they were looking for,” said Eau Claire County Board Member Brandon Buchanan. He spoke on behalf of the neighborhood organization Wednesday. “So maybe they couldn’t have filed the paperwork until now, but that does not forbid them from giving them a heads up that this was their plan all along.”

Buchanan said the neighborhood and gardeners simply want to find a name for the park that suits everyone involved.

In the end, the commission denied the motion to rename the space “Veterans Tribute Park” with a 7 to 3 vote. Even without approval, the commission recommended it move on to the Eau Claire City Council to sort out. They’re hoping the city council will sit down with everyone involved and find a suitable solution.

The city council will take it up on July 8.

Justin Esterly

Justin Esterly is our Daybreak meteorologist. Justin joined WQOW News 18 in May 2018.

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