Park renaming rejected

WHEN Rochelle Ferris heard Ballina Shire Council wanted to rename Fawcett Park after her dad – Ballina's 'pelican man', the late Lance Ferris – she was overjoyed.

But on Friday the NSW Geographical Names Board rejected the proposal, leaving Ms Ferris and other members of the community feeling disappointed.

Ballina mayor Phillip Silver moved to rename the park in honour of Mr Ferris, founder of Ballina-based Australian Seabird Rescue (ASR) who died in October last year.

The council endorsed the proposal, and a naming ceremony was held as part of the 2007 Rivafest Festival in November.

But now it looks like the area will have to stay named Fawcett Park.

“We really appreciated the gesture by the mayor to rename the park after Lance,” Ms Ferris, president of ASR, said.

“That park meant a lot to him. We spread his ashes on the river nearby.

“I'm really disappointed with the decision.”

A spokesman for the names board said it had decided it was best to retain the name Fawcett Park after 12 objections were lodged about the name change.

The board spokesman said most of the objections related to wanting to retain the historical connection with Charles Fawcett, who was the first Member for the State seat of Richmond, elected in 1880.

The spokesman said the board then decided the park didn't warrant renaming and recommended Ballina Shire Council find a more appropriate spot to be named after Mr Ferris.

Ms Ferris said she would like to see at least a plaque installed in memory of her father.

“He made such a big contribution to the community and deserves to be honoured with something like this for people to remember him by,” she said.

Cr Silver said "the board got it wrong" and he would like to see the council's mayor after the September 13 elections take up the matter with the Minister for Lands, which the names board comes under.

“Council did the right thing in recognising a leading citizen and reflecting the community's views when they resolved to name the area Lance Ferris Park,” he said.

“We understood that because it was council's land, it was council's prerogative how to name the park. This land is owned by the council and the community and, just like your home, you can call it whatever you like.”

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