It was with some amusement that I read in the June 10 Star-Exponent how certain Council members voted to rescind last month’s vote to change the name of Lake Pelham.
Other members voted to let the original decision stand. Even stranger was that some of these Council members changed sides since their votes last month, claiming pressure from constituents to change their votes one way or the other. Once again, politics has muddled up what should be a straightforward process.
I understand the conflicts at work here. We should all be allowed to preserve our own views of history. But it should be obvious to anyone that many African Americans in our community are unhappy over the current name. It’s a prominent reminder of their ancestors’ enslavement. Anyone can understand their unhappiness with “Lake Pelham” and that makes it the most compelling argument for a name change.
Since the lake in question didn’t exist until the 1970’s, it has zero historical connection to the Civil War. Nor did Major Pelham have any connection to Culpeper while he was alive.
In deciding to rename the lake last month, the Council made the correct decision. Now, let’s take the politics out of the process and put it to the voters in a referendum. Run a contest in town and get a selection of five or six candidate names for the lake. Put the names to a referendum and let the voters name the lake.