Soundoff: Careful with name changes

I noticed in the Sunday paper that the Parade Magazine announced this month, May, to be National Preservation Month. There is even a contest towns can enter to show how much they have preserved and maintained their heritage for the future generations.

Oak Harbor will not be entering the contest. I am not sure when “Heritage Destruction Month” is, so I doubt we will be in any contests at all. Although we could have a good chance of winning the latter contest if one happened to appear.

Once Memorial Stadium, City Beach, Pioneer Way, Old Town, Downtown, Flintstone Park, the town baseball fields, historic names and places, etc. no longer exist, we could take first prize I bet. That is not to even mention the historic homes and buildings which have been allowed to go to ruin, become condemned and then razed to the ground starting in the 1960s and continuing since.

It is too bad Oak Harbor officials feel the need to follow down every path their paid Pied Piper takes them down. Some of the $50,000 Pied Piper’s ideas may be good; others are terrible. It would be good for these town leaders to think twice about some of the changes being discussed.

There are places still available for purchase, should a hotel firm want to build. The baseball fields are traditional, meaningful and important. City Beach (whoops, I mean Windjammer Park) is the perfect place for those. Certainly better than a hotel or condo unit. Those are hard to see through. Also, as the 1970s song by Cat Stevens states, “You can roll in roads over fresh green grass, but where do the children play?”

As a lifelong resident and Oak Harbor graduate, there are a lot of things bothering me. I am sure others must agree. At first, I thought making the downtown and Bayshore Drive one way would not be that bad, then I realize how much I enjoy the convenience and views going both directions on these major streets downtown (whoops, I mean through Harborside Shops).

The final straw which forced me to write this letter is the proposal to change the name of our street downtown, through Old Town (yes, that’s right, newcomers, I said Old Town) ... from Pioneer Way to Harbor Side. By the way, wouldn’t Bayshore Drive be more on the harbor side? The article in the paper states that Barrington Avenue was changed to Pioneer. Actually, through research I have found that in the 1940s, when the Navy arrived, Barrington Avenue was, for the sake of simplification, referred to as Main Street. Then in 1951, the town decided to divide the town into quarters, at which time “Main Street,” historically Barrington Avenue, was renamed to honor all of our pioneer forefathers, this being the year of the great centennial in Oak Harbor. That’s right, Oak Harbor was 100 years old in 1951. They had a huge parade and celebration to mark the occasion.

Pioneer Way is the name which I believe is right and best. It would be unethical to change it, thinking some other new name would bring more tourist bucks. If I were a tourist, Pioneer Way would be much more interesting sounding. Bayshore Drive already speaks of the waterfront. Captain Edward Barrington was my great-great-grandfather, and his name has been restored to a very prominent street. But Pioneer Way speaks of all of our pioneers together; Norwegian, Swiss, Irish, English, Dutch, Scottish, German and more. Pioneers without whom Oak Harbor would not even exist.

In its effort to bring more spenders to Oak Harbor, I sincerely hope the town does not shoot itself in the foot, creating a driver’s nightmare and destroying anything memorable and meaningful to its longtime residents.

Peggy Darst Townsdin is an author who lives in Oak Harbor.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates