By: Tom Duggan – 1/23
Last month, there was a scheduled vote before the Lawrence City Council (December 6th) that would have replaced the name of the park at South Lawrence’s Five Corners from “Stockton Park” to “Twomey Park (where the fountain was located on South Union St.).”
The proposal was sponsored by Councilor Greg DelRosario who was so impressed and so inspired by veteran and former City Councilor Roger Twomey, (now deceased) that he wanted the park to bear his name.
“Initially, it was Roger Twomey who worked on getting the funding to fix up this park before he died,” DelRosario told The Valley Patriot. “He was a veteran, a former councilor, and a man who cared very deeply about the people of Lawrence. It’s important that people remember our veterans and their sacrifices.”
While naming a park is rarely controversial, DelRosario’s proposal was met with some opposition because the park is currently named for Civil War Hero Howard Stockton.
Unlike so many elected officials today, Councilor Greg DelRosario did something refreshing when challenged on his proposal, he sat back and he listened with an open mind.
He listened as veterans, Councilor LaPlante, and residents explained the history of Howard Stockton. He was eager to learn the details that so many Lawrence residents have never bothered to learn, and he embraced the concerns of those who didn’t want him to rename the park.
In the end, DelRosario said he was happy to withdraw his proposal to rename the park, and said that either a new fountain or wall planned for the park could still be named for Roger Twomey while also honoring Howard Stockton by keeping the name of the park.
In today’s political climate, it takes a lot of courage for an elected official to publicly reverse themselves once they put their name on a proposal. Most elected officials see that as a political defeat or a rebuke of their efforts.
But not Councilor DelRosario.
DelRosario was willing to be open minded and hear the concerns of fellow councilors, local veterans, and even spoke with the family of Roger Twomey in an effort to make sure he was doing the right thing for everyone in the community BEFORE making a final decision.
Councilor DelRosario should be congratulated for his efforts to honor our veterans. He should also be lauded for his commitment to the voters and his willingness to approach these issues with an open mind, while so many other officials make up their minds first and then seek facts to bolster their position.
It’s a rare trait among elected officials.
A quick Bio on Howard Stockton:
* A military veteran, having served as a Captain for the Union in the Civil War;
* The treasurer for the Essex Company for over 40 years (1880-1932), succeeding the city’s founder and first mayor, Charles Storrow;
* The lead official for the Essex Company and gifted several parcels to the city. This one on S. Union Street was gifted by Stockton/Essex Company to the city in 1897 for the benefit of the city’s residents;
* The city council highly regarded Stockton and named the park after him in appreciation for his gift and service;
* Worked at 6 Essex Street – the Essex Company’s Lawrence office.
Recent Howard Park update:
* In 2008-2009, Councilor Twomey advocated for Stockton Park improvements
* Councilor Twomey teamed with Sal Lupoli, who offered financial assistance and commissioned a design;
* In 2010, Councilor Laplante placed the following item on the agenda, cosponsored by Councilor Twomey and Councilor Rivera: “Doc.#108 – Revealing Stockton Park (aka Five Corners) Draft Improvements”
* The project did not advance. Councilor Twomey left the Council at the end of 2015;
* In 2016, working with Mayor Dan Rivera, Laplante successfully sponsored a $330K amendment in the Capital Improvement Budget that received Council support and the mayor’s approval;
* In 2021, interim Mayor Vasquez targeted the money and began construction;
* In 2021, Laplante advocated for 5 artist panels at the site for the purpose of having Lawrence artists depict important Lawrence residents of historical significance;
* Mayor DePena completed the project in 2022, keeping the 5 panels.
HONOR FOR COUNCILOR TWOMEY
In 2017 Councilor Twomey had a square dedicated near his house at the intersection of Leeds Terrace and Jefferson Street. Councilor Twomey was alive at the time and was able to enjoy the tribute with his family and friends, and together the city was able to honor the councilor for his years of service – including his support for Stockton Park. The City Council voted unanimously for the dedication. ◊