March 13, 2009

Push on to name new skatepark after Waye

The city should name its new skatepark after hit-and-run victim Henry Waye, Jr, many friends say.

“That would be pretty good,” said Michael Keith, a Bristol Central High School freshman who used to hang out with Waye at the Rockwell Park skatepark that opened last fall.

“It was the thing he loved to do,” Keith said.

At an informal vigil held Thursday near the George Street site where Waye, 14, was struck and killed on March 5 by a driver who never stopped, petitions were passed around calling for the city name the skatepark for Waye.

Waye’s father, Henry Waye, Sr, was among those who put his name on the lengthy list.

Steve Smith, who organized the petition drive, said Friday that he’s already got 350 signatures on the petitions – but he’s aiming for 5,000 by mid-April.

“I just want to take this tragedy and make something positive out of it,” Smith said.

The skatepark, opened after more than seven years of planning, is under the jurisdiction of the city’s Park Board.

Park Director Ed Swicklas said he’s heard of the interest in naming the park for Waye.

But, he said, there are some possible complications.

To begin with, Swicklas said, the park panel has a policy of waiting a year from the date of any naming request before it takes action. It’s meant to ensure that choices are made more coolly than may be possible soon after someone’s death.

In addition, the skatepark is technically located in Mrs. Rockwell’s Playground, an area deeded to the city generations ago for park use. Swicklas said the deed restrictions might make it impossible to name the skatepark for anybody other than Mrs. Rockwell, who would never have even seen a skateboard in her day.

Swicklas said that city lawyers can investigate the deed terms long before a year has passed so that park commissioners would know their options.

He said that even if the skatepark can’t be named for Waye – or if commissioners don’t like the idea – it might be possible to create a living memorial as part of the landscaping for the skatepark. That wouldn’t require the same level of bureaucratic and legal work.

Three eighth grade girls at Memorial Boulevard School – Jesslyn DesJardins, Nicole Worrell and Jenelly Ramos – said that because their friend Henry liked to hang out at the skatepark, naming it after him would be a nice gesture.

Smith said that Waye was there on the day the skatepark opened last fall and returned many times.

“His whole life was skating and bicycling,” Smith said.

Smith said that Waye was “just an outstanding kid” whose death hurt more than just the boy’s friends and family.

“The whole town’s had a loss here,” Smith said.

Want to sign the petition?

The organizer of the petition drive, Steve Smith, said that petitions are available at the Valero gas station at 105 West Street. He said he’ll be trying to get other businesses involved as well.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

As much as this would be a nice thing to do, we cannot name parks, streets, buildings etc...when someone in our city is killed (needlessly I add). We had all those teens that were killed on Rt 6, the 4 yr old on Washington st, etc... Maybe a bench at the skatepark with his name on it would be appropriate.

Karen R.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a great idea. Maybe it'll remind us all about the dangerous consequences of drinking and driving...then again (unfortunately), maybe not, but I still think it's a great idea!

Anonymous said...

i already proudly signed my name to the list. everyone in bristol should. please let's give henry that honor.

Donna Michaud said...

Karen R. is an idiot. Naming a skatepark after a child who frequented it and LOVED skating and biking is a WONDERFUL idea. Henry was a wonderful kid. This is a TERRIBLE tragedy. He was just walking on the road and some drunk idiot killed him. Don't be so ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but we name public places after heroes. We don't name them after victims.

Concerned Conservative said...


I agree with your sentiment. How about a campaign in the name of this poor youngster by the police to enforce safe driving laws (especially in residential areas)?

How about a campaign in his name to promote traffic and pedestrian safety and to teach young people how to avoid being injured by reckless drivers?

Merely naming some object after this boy makes getting past this without action too easy.

Anonymous said...

maybe it's time we name things after victims as a lasting reminder, especially for the young people who frequent the park. If it reminds just one kid not to drink and drive, it's worth it. Something positive needs to come from such negativity and horror. God bless his family in this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

Naming the skatepark after this innocent child who really enjoyed the sport is a nice thing. We can still have a campaign in his name to promote pedestrian safety and awareness of DUI/reckless driving, and it certainly won't make "getting past this without action too easy" (CC can be such a jerk!).

Why can't we just celebrate this wonderful child's brief stay on earth by naming the park after him. Afterall, it's just a really nice thing to do.

Anonymous said...

What about all the people, including kids, who worked hard for years to get that skatepark? Isn't it a slap in their face to name it after a kid who had nothing to do with the park, all because he was tragically killed by a drunk driver?

Anonymous said...

3:30 is right. There other ways to memorialize Henry, ones that may keep kids safer on the streets.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't it a slap in their face to name it after a kid who had nothing to do with the park, all because he was tragically killed by a drunk driver?"


Anonymous said...

Being one of the people that have fought for at least 6 years to have the skate park built, it would be an honor to have at least one part of the park named in his honor. I saw a few kids there today with HW shaved in their hair.
It would make them remember what drunk driving does to one of their own.

Anonymous said...

Donna Michaud - don't attack people for giving opinions, you really show your true colors and ignorrance by attacking someone like you did. Grow up!

Karen R.

Anonymous said...

The Monday after the accident the police were called to the sight of the memorial because there were teens skateboarding in the middle of the road at dusk, while others grieved. Cars were having to wait and swerve to go around them.

Lets focus on keeping our kids/children safe first and providing guidance for them.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with her, but at least Donna Michaud used her real name. No one else does.

Anonymous said...

Its not her real name - she just used it.

Anonymous said...

We had all those teens that were killed on Rt 6,
March 13, 2009 3:44 PM


Speaking of that incident , Why the he** aren't the idiots that keep vandalizing the street and littering the cemetery arrested for their actions ?? A group of criminals caused their fatal accident and their memory is being preserved by yet more criminals .

Concerned Conservative said...

March 16, 2009 11:36 AM:

Agreed! Let's do more to make the streets safer in the name of the Waye boy.

Here's a place to start, how about the Bristol police enforcing speed limits in residential areas (especially ones with heavier traffic). Let's make the transient traffic (especially the increased traffic due to the new Route 72)flow more through non-residential areas like the Boulevard instead of up and down South Street and through Federal Hill.

alesia ervin said...

why are we saying negative things about a kid who lost his life to a drink driver? if this was your kid think how you would feel if you saw some one saying these things. "Anonymous said...
Sorry, but we name public places after heroes. We don't name them after victims," isn't henry waye a hero now? his story can now save a life because there will be one person who will think twice about drinking and driving. a hero isn't always some one who lost their life on the battlegrounds or being a myrtar a hero comes in many forms. karen r i agree but disagree it doesn't matter what is named after an individual who has passed. how many street names, parks, benches, memorials have been named after people? what ever is named after henry waye it will be a forever reminder of what can happen when you drink and drive. concerned conservative its impossible to teach people how to avoid a car when its aiming at a high rate and coming straight for you in the rear or in the front. you cant teach people that you have to teach reckless drivers how to make smart, mature decisions, and how to avoid hitting a person.
no offense to the people who worked on the skate park but they dont have control to name the park only building it. and why would they be offended if the skate park is named after a kid who lost his life. and why arent people putting their names except for donna michaud if you're so bond to type it on here then you should be bond to put your name with it.

Anonymous said...

There maybe a deed restriction regarding the naming of the skate park - so before everyone gets their shorts up to high - relax and lets see before ruffling feathers.

Peter Lynch

Odin said...

Alesia: I don't know how old you are but you sound like a kid and Henry's death has probably hit you pretty hard. But peoples' reaction to Henry's senseless death does not make him into a hero. Naming the park after him will not prevent one alcoholic from getting behind the wheel. I'm sorry, but that's not the way alcoholism works. Find a way to memorialize Henry's life that is appropriate to what happened, not simply a reflection of his love of skateboarding.