Since 2011, a sign has been in place at Fish Haul Creek Park on Hilton Head’s north end — “Future Home of Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park.” Six years later, the name of the park might finally change.
The town Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously voted Thursday to recommend that Town Council change the name of Fish Haul Creek Park to Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, and also change the name of the existing Mitchelville Beach Park to Fish Haul Beach Park.
“Part of the (land management ordinance) criteria is we can’t have similar names, and, as you know, we have a Mitchelville Beach Park,” Jayme Lopko, the town’s senior planner, said at Thursday’s meeting. “So in order to rename the one park, we have to rename the other.”
In April, the town leased the Fish Haul Creek Park property to the Mitchelville Preservation Project, which had been anticipated since 2011, Lopko said.
Ahmad Ward, executive director of the Mitchelville Preservation Project, brought up the renaming request at the Sept. 19 meeting of Town Council.
“We know that (renaming) would be a process, but we think it’s going to help us with our branding,” Ward told the council then. “We have a national story; we have a worldwide story; and we think we can attract people from those areas.”
Ward said Monday there has been a lot of work done with the project, which aims to educate the public about the first self-governed settlement for freed slaves in the United States, to get to the point of requesting the name change. The change is necessary for more people to recognize the project, he said.
“This is an important first step to show people we’re serious,” Ward said. “We want to get that name out there so people know what it is. That’s why we’re really pushing to get that name changed.”
According to town documents, the Mitchelville Preservation Project is prepared to purchase and install a new sign panel for Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park.
Lopko said the renaming recommendation must be approved by the Public Facilities Committee before going to Town Council for consideration.