Cessnock Council will write to the Geographical Names Board to change the name of Peace Park, Weston in honour of deceased councillor Jeff Maybury.
At Wednesday night’s council meeting, the matter stirred intense debate before being voted 7-4 to propose the park be changed to ‘Jeff Maybury Peace Park.’
Weston RSL Sub Branch wrote to council in July, 2015, requesting the name be changed in honour of their late president, who lost his battle with cancer that same month.
However, Clarice Hamling wrote a letter to council in objection to the proposal, saying it was Jack King who did a lot of the groundwork to enable the park to become what it is today.
“I am certainly not denying that in his capacity as councillor, Mr Maybury ensured the park gained better facilities. But in my belief Peace Park should be left as it is, as the names means a lot to many people,” Ms Hamling said.
“I know Jack never wanted this park to be named after someone, as this park represents the community, not just one person.”
Councillor Catherine Parsons unsuccessfully brought forward an amendment to vote on the option that council not make an application to rename the park, but to instead install a commemorative plaque at Peace Park in Cr Maybury’s honour.
Cr Parsons, along with councillors Graham Smith and James Ryan argued that there were more people than just Cr Maybury involved in the creation of Peace Park.
“Jeff wasn’t just the one who got the park up,” Cr Smith said.
“[Peace Park] was not just the work of a single person, even though that councillor obviously did put in a lot of work,” Cr Ryan said.
Cr Ryan also said he didn’t think councillors were more deserving of recognition than other people.
He said council needed to be careful “not to fall into the trap of thinking we’re above everyone else.”
But councillor Cordelia Troy said Cr Ryan’s assertion that other councillors thought this way was “rubbish” and “offensive”.
Councillor Rod Doherty said the initial reason for naming it Peace Park was because the idea was to plant exotic tree species as part of a “Trees of the World” arboretum and sensory walk.
“The idea of the arboretum was to convey world unity by using a selection of trees from various parts of the world in keeping with the ‘Peace Park’ name,” the council report stated.
Cr Doherty argued that this had not been achieved, hence there was no reason to keep the name.
Councillor James Hawkins and Councillor Bryce Gibson asked what someone had to do to be worthy of having a park named after them, seeing as Cr Maybury had served 35 years on council and was involved in numerous community groups.
If the request to the Geographical Names Board is approved, council will install appropriate signage to indicate the new name.
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