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Letter to the Editor

Naming our new park: Honoring the legacy of Overtown

A Rosemary District resident proposes that the park's name should honor the legacy of Overtown.

  • By
  • | 8:00 a.m. July 10, 2024
  • Sarasota
  • Opinion
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As a resident of the Rosemary District, I am excited to see the progress on our new neighborhood park. With the park's imminent completion, the city of Sarasota is considering names for the park.

The Rosemary District, just north of downtown Sarasota, is now home to over 3,600 residents. Despite being the fastest growing and most densely populated area in the city, it has been without a neighborhood park. My wife, Martha, and I moved to the Rosemary District over seven years ago and at which time I quickly joined with a dedicated group of neighbors to identify park opportunities. Now, we’re almost there. Our 1/4-acre park is about to be finished, with eagerly anticipated canopy trees having been planted and park lighting installed last week. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is now within sight.

The journey to this park has not been easy. Initially envisioned almost 25 years ago in the Downtown Sarasota Master Plan, which identified a "Civic Square" in this area, the park concept faced numerous setbacks, including economic downturns and funding challenges. The recent effort to purchase the park parcels succeeded thanks to over 100 community members and business owners who contributed to cover the costs. Even this year, construction faced delays due to permitting issues.

The Rosemary District has several unique factors, including a central location, a rich cultural history tied to the founding of Sarasota, a high concentration of significant historic buildings within a small geographic area, and a vibrant community of creative industries.

While "Rosemary Park" and "Rosemary District Park" reflect our current neighborhood name and its historic Rosemary Cemetery, I believe "Overtown" stands out as a unique and historically significant option. Overtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes 28 buildings that contribute to our neighborhood’s historic character. It was the original name of our area before it became known as the Rosemary District.

I personally recommend the name "Overtown Square" for the following reasons:

  • It honors our neighborhood's history and is immediately recognizable.
  • It creates a strong connection to our unique cultural history and historic buildings.
  • It acknowledges the live/work history and future of our neighborhood.
  • There is virtually nothing in our neighborhood named "Overtown," making it a distinctive choice.
  • Additionally, the park's exact square shape makes this name even more fitting.

While the name for the park should be permanent, the features in the park don’t have to be. There is an opportunity for it to change and grow. Think sculptures, more trees, and other elements that can be added. The park can continue to evolve as its real-world uses play out, all one-quarter acre of it.

For now, I cast my vote for "Overtown Square" and hope the name can be agreed upon in advance of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for our very own Rosemary District Park. It will have been worth the wait.

— David Lough, Rosemary District resident


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