Lake Pelham, named after Confederate Major John Pelham, will keep his name for the time being.
At the May 11 Culpeper City Council meeting, a motion to change the name to Lake Culpeper failed with a 4-4 vote. Supporters of the name change were council members Frank Reaves Jr., Pranas Rimeikis, Meaghan Taylor and Billy Yowell while Jamie Clancey, Keith Price, Jon Russell and Mayor Michael Olinger dissented. Councilor Keith Brown abstained from voting. Before that vote failed, Russell proposed that the name remain Lake Pelham, which also failed.
By a 5 to 4 vote at its February 9 meeting, city council voted that the lake should be renamed and referred the matter to the multi-member committee. The name of Culpeper Lake was a suggestion forwarded to City Council by the committee.
While Clancey doesn’t object to Lake Culpeper’s name, she believes the decision should be made with more community input.
“I see this as an opportunity to engage the community and to have some kind of economic development, positive marketing, communication messages … and education, especially maybe with students who introduce us in sort of why we should name the lake what they think, “she said.
Russell agreed the name change should be left to the discretion of the people, adding that it should be done in a referendum.
Brown said he was “fine” with the name of Culpeper Lake, adding that he believed city council had agreed not to name the lake after someone else. If so, he wonders if the city is not coming back “to square one”.
If the lake is to have a new name, Councilor Keith Price said Culpeper Lake is the best option because it is the least likely to be offensive and “represents everyone”. That being said, he added that he was opposed to a name change. Mayor Michael Olinger supported Price’s thoughts.
The estimated cost for the city to rename the lake is $ 5,000. The defeated motion indicated that the costs would be funded from the city’s general fund.
City council did not say when or if future discussions would continue on the lake’s name change.