Dollie and Ed’s Park will be the name of a 9.5-acre parcel donated by the late philanthropist couple in 2002
VANCOUVER — After nearly two years, Vancouver City Council on Monday night put to rest a debate over the name of what will eventually be a new park at 4900 NW Franklin Street.
From now on, the plot of land will be known as “Dollie and Ed’s Park.”
The decision ends a two-year battle over what to name 9.5 acres of land donated by the late philanthropists Ed and Dollie Lynch in 2002 to the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. The city of Vancouver purchased the property for $1 million that same year.
In a letter dated Oct. 9, 2020 to Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, CFSW President Jennifer M. Rhoads said that transaction included “verbal promises” from city officials at the time to name the park after Ed and Dollie.
“In philanthropy, we honor intent and promises made in written and verbal form,” wrote Rhoads. “Knowing this, we are asking that the City name the park Dollie and Ed’s Park which will honor the legacy of Ed and Dollie as promised.”
In 2018, as part of the city’s Stronger Vancouver project which envisioned a number of new and upgraded parks, the property was labeled “Lynch Park.”
City leaders later amended the name to “Ed and Dollie Lynch Park,” but the attempt to clarify its connection to the inaugural recipients of the First Citizen of Southwest Washington Award in 1992 fell short of mollifying those who worried the name might be offensive, however unintentional.
“I’m sorry that people have that last name, but that last name should not be associated with a public space,” said Black Lives Matter Vancouver founder Cecilia Towner in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting at the time. “It’s erasing the horrible things that were done to black people.”
City Manager Eric Holmes had said the potential offense connected to the Lynch surname had not even occurred to city staff working on the proposed name for the park.
“Our community is becoming more diverse, and we’ve heard from different perspectives this evening that present a different viewpoint on the name and word ‘lynch,’” he said during a city council meeting in November 2018. “There may be an opportunity for an alignment of those perspectives through a community conversation.”
Not everyone was opposed to the name, however.
Former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard said the outcry was dragging “good people’s name through the mud.”
“The fog and confusion surrounding the name of this park have confused someone’s name with the action of racists,” said Pollard. “There’s no win for anyone if you change the name.”
Still, Monday’s compromise appeared to put the issue to rest.
“We did have community engagement, and we reached out to many individuals who had given testimony on this quite some time ago,” said McEnerny-Ogle on Monday, noting that the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had recommended the name as a compromise.
One final request, that the apostrophe and possessive ‘s’ be removed from “Ed,” in order to “create a more welcoming and inclusive feel” was not adopted by the council.
Dollie passed away in 2010, and Ed in 2015, so they didn’t live to see the outcry.
The couple’s son, Michael Lynch, released a statement Tuesday through the Ed and Dollie Lynch Foundation.
“Dollie and Ed Lynch loved Vancouver and Southwest Washington,” he wrote. “They would be very pleased that as a community we were able to move forward on the park naming and honor them in doing so. We look forward to the day our city builds a beautiful park that all of our citizens can enjoy within the 10-acre preserve on Franklin Street.”
The council also approved a $6,000 budget to create signs for the undeveloped park. There are also plans for a plaque somewhere in the park that will explain who “Dollie and Ed” were, and what their contributions to the community have been, and what their legacy continues to be.