Delaware City Council concluded its role in the renaming of Eastside Park or what Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin called a “love story.”
The park will be renamed after the late Dick Bennett, a former Delaware police officer who spearheaded the creation of the park in the 1980s. He lived in a house across from the park.
The story is about “a love of community, a love of public service, a love of a couple who take care of each other in their final days,” Martin said.
He said the park should be named only Bennett to also honor his late mentor’s wife, who supported his endeavors.
Bennett lived most of his life in Delaware. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1960 to 1968. He worked as a police officer for more than 20 years. After his police career, Bennett worked as head of Delaware County Veterans Services before retiring in 2012 to take care of his wife, Carol, until she lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013.
Bennett died on Oct. 1, 2015, in Toledo, where his sons Shawn and Erin live. Bennett’s other son, Kris, lives in Cleveland.
Delaware County Chief Deputy Pat Yankie, with approval from Bennett’s family, submitted a request for the name change last year. The request prompted city staff to form a naming policy for its parks, which council approved in May.
Additionally, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board approved its recommendation for the name change.
“It’s a beautiful park,” said Shawn Bennett, who traveled to the meeting from Toledo. “… We’ve had a lot of good memories over there.”
Shawn said his father did love the east side of town.
“I’m just honored that this is even being considered,” he said.
The city will change the park’s signage by next spring to coincide with a signage update of community parks, said Ted Miller, the city’s parks and natural resources director.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.