From Darkness To Light

11 Jan 2012

Durango official rallies Board to name geographical features in open spaces

Posted by Adam Howell

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The chairman of the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board was rallying the Board to take on the task of naming unnamed geographical features on City-owned open-space lands at their meeting Monday.

“There’s ridges with no names, there’s creeks with no names, there’s cliffs,  there’s trails with no names,” said Chairman Paul Wilbert. “It seems like that’s something that maybe we could help with.”

In the foreground sits a coal mine in Horse Gulch--it's name, I do not know. In the background lays a ridgeline. It has no name, although it is a part of the Fruitland Outcrop.

“Then set up a process and ideally there’d be a list. If it’s benches, where are the places that they would go,” Wilbert said.

Board member Mark Smith asked Wilbert what the goal was, or what isn’t being done that needs to get done.

“Do you feel like we don’t have enough names, or are you trying to create a system that raises money, or is it something else,” Smith asked.

Wilbert replied saying that it’s not that we don’t have enough names.

“What’s missing,” Smith then asked.

Wilbert wavered, having earlier said that the naming could obviously go too far.

“There are places that don’t have names, so that’s one,” Wilbert replied. “Places where there’s some existing trails,  some new trails that are going to go in, but don’t have names yet–it seems like it ought to be the city doing that. There’s the opportunity for major donations.”

“Naming is part of this, but, another part of it is providing amenities that go with open space and trails, and how we might go about developing and identifying the  places where those kind of things can happen,” said Wilbert.

Wilbert thinks that the city should take initiative in the process of choosing places where people should be allowed to put up benches or plant trees in memory or celebration of the lives of people who’ve died.

“Things like shade, benches, overlooks and things like that that you see that really make a lot of trail use and open-space use delightful, and provide destinations,” said Wilbert. “Rather than reacting to individuals that are constantly coming to the city saying we want to do this, we want to do this, here’s the place we want to do it. Taking the initiative on part of the staff and board to say here’s what we think could be done, and here’s where and here’s the process. So that when someone comes to the city and says I want to do a memorial, or I want to do a bench or I want to plant a tree, we can say well you can choose among these places and these things and here’s how much it costs.”

This bench at the Durango Dog Park was purchased by one Durango resident. She also had a plaque installed on the top rail of the bench with a quote and a memorial to her mother.

The City currently has a policy in place for people who want to buy a bench or tree for the City to install in a park in memory or celebration of someone, said Durango Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz. Many of these were off of the river trail, but the policy allows for them in city parks as well.

As for corporate or non-profit entities buying the trees or benches, they would be allowed to as well on city park lands, although currently there aren’t many requests, Metz said.

One example of the City allowing residents to name a whole park was the renaming of Durango Mountain Park to Overrend Mountain Park, Metz said.

Board member Dick White brought up the inevitable slippery slope of corporate entities asking if they could name a piece of open space. He also confronted Wilbert’s request that the entire board work together to name geographical features.

“I can confess right now, I’d be really uncomfortable with that,” White said.

Skepticism over naming geographical features was obvious in the words of Smith, as well.

“You don’t want to see the Little Fishes lookout rock show up, and that’s what you’re flirting with, I think. If you’re not careful, you’re going to have a backlash from some folks in the community who don’t want to see the commercialization of our open spaces. That’s why I’m sitting here quietly just kind of taking this in. I’m kind of wondering how you keep that from happening. If somebody’s going to buy a trail or a bench, where do you draw the line? If some widow wants to put the money she saved in her mattress to name something after her husband that died, is that one thing, and Mercury Payment Systems’ memorial to somebody something else. It’s kind of a thin line you walk.”

“It’s a great thing for the community, it’ll just stir up a lot of unnecessary drama,” Smith said.

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One Response to “Durango official rallies Board to name geographical features in open spaces”

  1. Great article … Hope you keep us updated on what becomes of all of this naming everything !!! Leave our naturally accruing spaces alone !! Not everything needs a name !!


    Tracy Jenkinson Tulley

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