LIMA — The controversy was unsurprising, but what Lima City Schools Board of Education members may not have expected was that the park expected to be built next to Spartan Stadium may no longer be built due to the name change.
City Council President John Nixon spoke Thursday evening at the board of education meeting about how he respects the board members’ decision and appreciates that sometimes hard decisions have to be made. However, Nixon expressed his concern that the plan to make the land adjacent to the stadium into a park may be in jeopardy.
“It’s not as certain as it was, and that scares me,” Nixon said.
Negotiations are not complete and Nixon believes that there is still time for the board to reverse their decision. In addition, there is a chance the park could still be built while the stadium is called Spartan Stadium. But, Nixon said that plans for the park included playing off the name Lima Stadium.
The project would benefit the school because of the beautification of the land next to the stadium, making the stadium and the city look better, Nixon believes.
“I am asking you to review your decision in an objective manner — I am asking you to help the City of Lima bring to fruition a project — at one time a pipe dream — that will be of mutual benefit to the entire community,” Nixon said.
The land partially consists of land that Lima schools donated, which they had to do because the city could not buy the land with state money, according to Nixon. The project is funded with money from the State of Ohio and uses land that AR-HALE Foundation purchased. The land formerly had houses on it that fell into disrepair.
“This issue is about the park project going forward, a final enhancement to the stadium,” Nixon said.
Mayor David Berger also expressed his concern about the park going forward and also said that he feels there should be a compromise rather than losing the name Lima Stadium entirely. He suggested names that were brought up in the meeting, like adding a subhead to the name, making it Lima Stadium: Spartan Field, or something to that effect.
“The loss of Lima’s name matters to me,” Berger said.
Board president Dennis Williams, however, questioned the mayor on why the board should compromise. He said that he does not think the name should be changed.
“I believe in what we’ve done with Spartan Stadium,” Williams said, in addition to saying that what they do is for the kids and the students who spoke at the board meeting were in support of the name change.
Nixon was one 22 community members who spoke at the board of education meeting. For the most part, a generational gap seemed to separate the opinions of those in attendance.
Many students and recent graduates, along with some adult community members, spoke in praise of the name change to Spartan Stadium.
Brad Stubbs, a senior at Lima Senior High School, is a resident of Bath and thus chooses to attend Lima Senior. He said when he started and the high school was separated, he was not sure if the schools could come together and unify, but they did.
“I am looking forward to being a member of the first class to receive their diplomas in Spartan Stadium,” Stubbs said. Stubbs was one of many students and recent graduates of Lima Senior who spoke in support of the name change.
Sara Bowsher, a graduate of and a current teacher at Lima schools, believes that the change is justified and that strengthening school pride is very important.
“I look forward to the future memories that will be made at Spartan Stadium,” Bowsher said.
One community member spoke so passionately in opposition that he offered to buy new signs if the school had already paid for Spartan Stadium signs and then symbolically burn the Spartan Stadium signs. Richard Warren, a retired judge, urged board members to consider the image and what the renaming will do to the community.
The board members said they appreciated the large number of community members who came to speak during the meeting. After the conclusion of the meeting, Williams said he had not heard anything to make him consider changing his mind.