A contest sponsored by Perry Village government that asked residents to vote on a new name for Lee Lydic Park didn’t take long to find a winner.
After only about two days during which residents posted hundreds of Facebook comments regarding the survey, village Mayor James Gessic announced that the property on Call Road will continue to be known as Lee Lydic Park.
The comments appearing in several lengthy threads on the Perry Ohio Community Page overwhelmingly favored keeping the park named after the man who served the village for 34 years as a police officer and chief, mayor and Village Council member.
Many of the residents who shared their opinions on the Facebook page indicated they were angry or confused about why the village would consider changing the name of a park that was dedicated to Lee Lydic eight years ago.
All of those who supported retaining the park’s current name were able to rejoice when Gessic posted his announcement at about 9 p.m., Oct. 11, on the Community Page.
“It was not the intention to offend anyone by renaming the park,” Gessic said, as he declared an end to the contest.
He noted that the event stemmed from a suggestion made by a community member to Village Council.
“When members of the community make suggestions, we try to proactively reach out to the community for your input,” Gessic wrote, adding that village government leaders appreciated feedback on the subject. “We understand your concerns and will be leaving the name as Lee Lydic Park.”
The park-renaming contest was mentioned, but not discussed in detail, during the Oct. 8 Village Council meeting. On Oct. 9, at about 3 p.m., Councilman Rick Walker posted an item on the Perry Ohio Community Page announcing “a fun contest!”
“Village Council is looking to rename Lee Lydic Park,” he wrote, urging visitors to the Facebook page to submit their suggestions.
Walker said council would then choose “The Top 5” suggestions and conduct a community poll to determine the winner.
Almost immediately, comments began appearing on Facebook asking Walker why a name change for the park was being considered.
He responded by saying that a resident asked council about changing the park’s name around a year ago.
“The conversation turned to, ‘Why not let the residents name their own park?”https://www.news-herald.com/” Walker wrote. “The Village Council thought it would be a good idea to let the members of the community decide whether it should stay the same or change to something more communal.”
A few residents who added to the Facebook thread posted ideas for alternative names, including Perry Village Park — the site’s original identity when it was established in 2000 — during Lee Lydic’s tenure as mayor.
Some other individuals suggested a title that pinpointed the property’s location even more specifically — Call Road Park.
However, the vast majority of those who commented said they saw no reason to remove Lee Lydic’s name from the park’s title.
“Lee was a good representative of our community and contributed in many ways to our development and security,” said village resident Brian Dannemiller. “I would say leave the name as-is in honor of his service to Perry Village. It is well-deserved.”
Shaun Kozlowski of Perry Township also said he strongly recommended not changing the name.
“I have spent the vast majority of my life in this community and have witnessed first-hand the passion Lee Lydic had for the Village of Perry to make it the place it is,” he said. “As a respected police officer who earned his title of chief of police of this community, and then elected to the office of the mayor, it would be an abomination to erase the name of this man from the community’s history.”
Jesse Lydic II, in a message that accompanied his petition, said his family was caught off guard when it learned about the proposal to change the park’s name.
“Using a social media contest to rename the park is not only unnecessary, but disrespectful to a man who has given so much to the community,” he said.
The name of the person who approached council about changing the park’s name was not revealed by either Walker or Gessic. While Jesse Lydic II and others who left comments suspected that Walker was that person, the councilman adamantly denied those accusations.
“As I stated in the very beginning, we serve the residents, and some came in with a suggestion and we did our due diligence by following up on it,” he said.
Perry Village Park was renamed as Lee Lydic Park on Sept. 9, 2012, at a dedication ceremony held during the village’s annual Fall Festival. About a month prior to the event, council unanimously approved a resolution to give the park its new name.
Eight years later, Jesse Lydic II is grateful that the so many community members rallied to make sure the honor bestowed upon his grandfather wasn’t revoked.
“Your support and personal stories regarding my grandfather were heartfelt and touching,” he wrote on Facebook, after the mayor’s announcement. “We truly live in the best community.”