DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Robert E. Lee Park in Dallas is expected to revert to its original name after a special session of the city’s Park & Recreation board on Friday. Dating as far back as the 1890s, the property was known as Oak Lawn Park. The city renamed it Lee Park after the statue’s arrival in 1936.
Board chair Bobby Abtahi said, with the statue’s removal, the time is right to change the park’s name, too.
If approved, the measure would temporarily lift a six-year moratorium that the city has had on naming parks. The measure would also approve up to $40,000 in related expenses. The biggest cost, Abtahi said, would likely be changing the granite sign with the park name in front of the now empty pedestal.
The Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy, which has started informally referring to itself as just the Conservancy, oversees the care and management of the park. In a statement on Thursday, it “thanked city leadership for moving forward to restore the park’s name.”
“Much has happened in the last few weeks here at our urban oasis,” Gay Donnel, president and CEO of the Conservancy, said in the statement. “The Lee statue was removed, and the Mayor’s Task Force continues [to] debate all of the issues related to Confederate monuments. Nevertheless, the Conservancy is ready to begin planning for the future and talking to our neighbors about the vacant space left after the statue’s departure.”
The Oak Lawn Park name, for the immediate future, would technically be a placeholder, until the city adopts a new policy for approving park names. Abtahi expects that to happen by the end of the year.
Along with the meeting Friday to discuss the park’s name, the Mayor’s Task Force will also meet to consider renaming at least 10 streets in Dallas with Confederate ties. The most expensive one would be Lemmon Avenue. Spanning 242 blocks, it would cost the city an estimated $361,000 just to change the street signs.
For comparison, Gaston Avenue is also up for a name change, but that would only take about $41,000.
There has been a petition circulating online to keep the names intact, saying that many businesses and residents located along these streets would be left with a hefty price tag of their own as they would need to change over addresses on everything from deeds to bills.