A Delaware park could be renamed to honor the memory of a former law enforcement officer, if the proposal receives the blessing of city council.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board approved submitting a recommendation to Delaware City Council to rename Eastside Park on Rheem Street to honor police officer Dick Bennett, who passed away in October 2015.
Dick Bennett’s son, Erin Bennett, drove in Tuesday from Toledo to speak to the board in favor of the renaming. He said with an emotional pause that it would be an honor for his father.
“This is something he never would have thought to ask for,” Erin Bennett said.
If approved, the park would be renamed Bennett Park and would have a plaque placed there highlighting the late officer’s accomplishments.
Following his military career, Bennett worked for a couple of factories before joining the Delaware Police Department. He served as an officer for about 20 years. Bennett spearheaded the committee to establish the Eastside Park, located across the street from his home.
Delaware County Sheriff Russell L. Martin said his former mentor did not follow the trend of police officers moving out to the suburbs as their wages increased. Instead, Bennett continued to live in the neighborhood he served and sought to improve it.
It was “community policing before we called it community policing,” Martin said.
Bennett worked for 20 more years with the Delaware County Veterans Services until he retired to take care of his wife, who had Alzheimer’s disease.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board also discussed the possibility of charging rental fees to nonprofit organizations for the use of shelters at city-owned parks.
Parks and Natural Resources Director Ted Miller said the idea to charge fees wasn’t revenue-driven. He said the main reason was to allow all residents more opportunities to rent shelters and prevent nonprofit groups from taking up space on weekends on a regular basis.
The board asked Miller to provide more information about competition for the shelters. Some members suggested a discount price and variation between the weekdays and weekends.
About 25 percent of the city’s shelter rentals were made by nonprofit groups in the last quarter. Miller brought examples of central Ohio communities charging nonprofit groups for shelter rentals, including the cities of Gahanna and Dublin.
The shelter rates for Mingo Park’s three-season shelter and the Spray and Play at Veterans Park range from $40 to $120, depending on the day of the week and the length of the rental. The rate ranges from $20 to $100 for the other shelters.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.