The Town Council voted to create a committee responsible for memorializing bridges, buildings and other public sites.
The council voted 7-0 at its meeting on June 7 to approve a bylaw that gives the council president authority to select members to serve on an ad-hoc committee. The committee is responsible for receiving requests to name and rename public sites.
Councilor Dan Donovan said the committee would only convene when there is a request to rename or memorialize a public site. After receiving the request, the committee will send a recommendation to the council or a town department to vote favorably or unfavorably on the request.
“If you have a big, major public site like Community Field for example, that would go to the council for a vote,” Donovan said. “If you have a request to rename a bleacher or an endzone, it would go to the public department which has jurisdiction. In this case, it would be the Department of Parks and Recreation.”
Additionally, Donovan said the committee would not take requests to rename roads and streets.
“We intentionally avoided roads,” he said. “It would be extremely complicated to rename streets and it would be a very bloated process and we did not want to encourage a process where people could rename streets and change their names over and over again.”
Donovan said the bylaw would allow Council President Justin Pare to select up to three members to serve on the committee.
The process of establishing the ad-hoc committee began In November 2022, when resident James Grey asked the council to name the Fisher Street Bridge after his nephew, Jeff Plante. Plante, a North Attleborough resident, and Air Force veteran, was killed in a motorcycle accident while stationed in Iraq.
In 2023, the Bylaw Subcommittee created a process that would have established an advisory committee consisting of the Chairs of the Department of Public Works, the Conservation Commission, and the Parks and Recreations Department. The council would ask Town Manager Michael Borg to nominate these members. A review by KP Law & Associates found, however, that this language would violate the Town Charter by infringing upon the town manager’s authority to make his own nominations for boards and committees.
Chairman Andy Shanahan said the language for selecting nominees for the committee became a problem.
“The issue was, we were saying, Town Manager Borg, put together a committee with those three chairpersons,” Shanahan explained. “We couldn’t do that.”
The committee voted on May 8 to reverse a previous decision favorably recommending the draft bylaw to the council.
Two weeks later, Donovan introduced a new bylaw to the committee that would give the council president the authority to select the members for the committee. The Bylaw Subcommittee approved the language unanimously.