Organizers pushing for the city to name its skatepark after hit-and-run victim Henry Waye, Jr managed to collect 5,000 signatures calling for park commissioners to take back the request.
But Park Board members said Wednesday there’s nothing they can do until until this time next year.
The city charter specifically requires that officials wait at least a year before naming anything after anyone, Mayor Art Ward said.
The park panel did, however, send the request to a subcommittee to explore options and to work with organizers so that when a year passes, there may be an agreement on what to do to remember the Bristol Central High School freshman who died March 5.
Steve Smith, who led the petition drive, said that Waye touched many lives in his 14 years.
“I want to do something positive with the grief” that so many are feeling at losing the smiling, happy boy to a hit-and-run driver.
Police are still investigating the George Street accident in which a pickup truck driver, Robert Park, hit Waye and kept on going. No charges have been filed.
Smith said that naming the skatepark after Waye would “a fitting tribute” because the boy enjoyed the newest addition at Rockwell Park from the first day that it opened last fall.
Smith said that he had no trouble collecting signatures and found “a great deal of support” for the idea among residents.
He proposed naming the skatepark the “Henry Waye, Jr Skatepark at Rockwell Park” to ensure that the respected Rockwell name wasn’t lost in the change.
If legal issues or other problems preclude naming the skatepark itself after Waye, Smith suggested putting up “a small honorary plaque” at the skatepark honoring the boy and other youngsters who have died in tragic circumstances at too young an age.
Patrick Nelligan, a park commissioner, said that the building and maintenance committee can look into what’s possible in the months ahead.
Nelligan said that by working with Smith, the committee should be able to reach an agreement that everyone is happy with.
Smith said he didn’t mind the year delay required by law.
“I realized this would take time,” he said. “I just think it would be the right thing to do.”
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