City of Charlottesville releases updated parks renaming survey

The new survey seeks to limit results from respondents outside of Charlottesville

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Residents of Charlottesville can select from four potential names for Emancipation Park including Central Park, Library Park, Market Street Park and Swanson Legacy Park. The finalists for Justice Park are Court Square Park, Courthouse Park and Justice Park.

Hannah Mussi | Cavalier Daily

The Charlottesville City Council released an updated version of its parks renaming survey Friday, May 4 in an effort to curb responses from participants located outside of Charlottesville city limits. The previous survey — the second of two the City released with the finalist name suggestions for the parks — received over 38 percent of its votes from IP addresses outside of Virginia, with another 5 percent coming from foreign countries, an analysis by The Cavalier Daily found. 

Similar to the last survey, the poll asks respondents to input their preference for new names for Emancipation and Justice parks. Respondents can choose from the top name suggestions from the preliminary survey released in March. For Emancipation Park this includes Central Park, Library Park, Market Street Park or Swanson Legacy Park. For Justice Park, Court Square Park, Courthouse Park or simply retaining Justice Park are offered. The survey also includes an “other” option for customized responses, specifying that Lee and Jackson — the parks’ original names — are not being considered.

Local activist Mary Carey initiated a petition calling for renaming the parks in October and City Council agreed to put the matter to a vote among Charlottesville residents following a public feedback session in February. City Council’s initial decision to change the name from Lee Park to Emancipation Park last spring proved controversial within Charlottesville and elsewhere. The Councillors did not select names from among a shortlist provided by community members, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Historic Resources Committee.

An initial survey was made available by City Council between March 6 and March 28 in order for the community to suggest new names for the parks. By April, the most recent survey was sent out requesting that participants choose between Market Street Park, Swanson Legacy Park or Central Park for Emancipation Park, and Court Square Park, Courthouse Park, Swanson or Legacy Park for Justice Park. 

The new online survey, featuring the same options, hopes to mitigate non-local responses by requiring participants to first answer whether or not they are a resident of the City of Charlottesville, the surrounding county, or another location before continuing. The survey site automatically redirects those who select the last two options to a completion page, limiting the questionnaire only to Charlottesville residents.

In addition to answering online, the poll can also be answered by phone or on paper via inserts included with city utility bills.

The survey will remain open until June 30, with City Council expected to officially select the parks’ new names in July. 

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