aerial pellham

From resident Chris Settle's drone, an aerial view of the lake formerly known as Pelham. 

Lake Pelham, which is named after Confederate Major John Pelham, will keep its name for now.

During the Culpeper Town Council's May 11 meeting, a motion to change the name to Lake Culpeper failed with a 4-4 vote. Those in favor 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. Councilman Keith Brown abstained from voting. Before that vote failed, Russell motioned for the name to remain Lake Pelham, which also failed.

By a 5-4 vote during its Feb. 9 meeting, the town council voted that the lake should be renamed and referred the matter to the committee consisting of several council members. The name Lake Culpeper was a suggestion forwarded to the town council by the committee.

While Clancey does not oppose the name Lake Culpeper, she thinks the decision should be reached with more community input.

"I see it as an opportunity to engage the community and to have some kind of economic development, positive marketing, communications messaging...and education, specifically maybe with students kind of presenting to us why we should name the lake what they think," she said. 

Russell agreed that the name change should be left up to the people, adding that this should be accomplished in a referendum.

Brown said he is "fine" with the name Lake Culpeper, adding that he thought the town council agreed to not name the lake after another person. If it is, he wondered if the town is not returning "right back to square one."

If the lake must have a new name, Councilman Keith Price said Lake Culpeper is the best option because it has the least chance of being offensive and it "stands for everybody." That being said, he added that he opposes a name change. Mayor Michael Olinger seconded Price's thoughts.

The estimated cost to the town for renaming the lake is $5,000. The failed motion stated that the costs would be funded through the town's general fund.

The town council did not make it clear when or if future discussions would continue about renaming the lake.

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