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Many object to Coonskin Park name change

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A proposal to change the name of a popular Kanawha County park has drawn outcry from the public.

Thursday’s Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission agenda lists “discussion on changing the name of Coonskin Park” at the request of Retired Adj. Gen. Allen Tackett, who is the president of the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission.

After the agenda was released Friday, Tackett said he’s received a few complaints about the name of the park and wanted to propose changing the name to honor longtime Kanawha County Commissioner Hoppy Shores.

Although the name refers to a hat made of the hide of a raccoon, it can also be a slur against African-Americans.

Tackett said Monday the complaints have been sporadic over the years, and since the new entrance to the park is being built, “now is the time” to consider name changes as new signs will be made.

Tackett said he just wants to have a conversation about the possibility of changing the name. He said he feels it’s important to ensure equal respect and treatment for all West Virginians and address concerns of others.

“Things take a different meaning over time,” he said.

By naming the park after Shores instead, Tackett said the Parks Commission could therefore honor a public official who has dedicated much attention to the county park system over his career. Shores was re-elected in November to a seventh term in office.

Still, Tackett said he would support whatever action the Parks Commission takes.

“If they don’t want to (rename the park), I’m fine with that,” he said. “It’s not something I’m digging my heels in.”

But Kanawha County residents appear vehemently opposed to such a change, Commissioner Dave Hardy said.

 “It got an immediate reaction — all negative,” he said.

The Parks Commission answers to the county commission.

“We’ve had emails and our phone has been ringing off the hook at the commission in opposition to this idea,” he said. “We’re getting so many calls about it.”

Residents have also started a “Keep Coonskin Park” Facebook page…

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