To the Editor:
In last week's Gazette, Orron Kee corrected my inadvertent error concerning the former name of Colonel John R. Byers Park but he erred concerning Col. Byers' middle initial. That aside, Mr. Kee's opposition to the renaming and suggestion that, instead, a park in the South County area would have been "a more fitting tribute" to Col. Byers, at first blush appeared complimentary but actually parroted the disingenuous views of those opposed to the renaming.
The MVCCA considered a proposed resolution opposing renaming Williamsburg Manor Park and suggesting instead naming a park in Laurel Hill in the South County area after Col. Byers. An MVCCA committee actually passed such a resolution but later withdrew it after they learned that MVCCA passage of the resolution would not convince Supervisor Hyland to withdraw his support for the renaming.
Those of us who supported the renaming had the distinct impression that the position of the opponents supporting renaming a park at least 10 miles away from where Col. Byers had lived for many years was nothing more than a backhanded compliment, an effort to support naming a park somewhere in honor of Col. Byers so long as the renaming didn't occur in their neighborhood. An analogy would be renaming the Sully District Governmental Center near Dulles Airport in honor of Supervisor Hyland for his years of service in Mount Vernon.
In the end, the MVCCA did not oppose the renaming; The adjacent Williamsburg Manor North community supported it; Supervisor Hyland steadfastly supported it; the Planning Commission unanimously recommended it; the Mount Vernon representative to the FCPA Board supported it; and the FCPA Board voted to enact it.
Whenever I drive past Colonel John R. Byers Park, and see the sign with his name on it, near where he lived for many years, it reminds me that individuals in our community can make a difference in many positive ways if they are willing to volunteer, put aside their personal agendas, and serve the community as a whole with distinction. This describes Colonel (Ret.) John Robertson Byers.