The Portland City Council approved the renaming of Bedford Park as Noyes Park on Monday night following a debate that has stretched on for months about the history of the small park.

The council voted 8-0 to approve the change with Councilor Anna Trevorrow absent.

Nicholas Noyes and Anna Noyes Benoit stand under a beech tree last month that their great-great-great-grandfather planted in a park they’ve always known as Noyes Park but at some point changed to Bedford Park until the City Council restored the original name Monday night. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“The bottom line is this council has the authority and opportunity to ensure that we are naming this park so confusion doesn’t persist,” said Mayor Kate Snyder. “I’m happy to support the amendment to name this parcel of land Noyes Park.”

The three-quarter acre park near the University of Southern Maine has been the subject of debate since at least November, when members of the Noyes family, which sold the land for the park to the city in 1928, requested that its name in ordinance be changed from Bedford Park to Noyes Park to correct what they said was an error by the city.

Since then historians, city staff and members of the public have been engaged in trying to understand the full history of the small park and what its name should be. The debate also raised questions about how the city chooses to name parks after Councilor April Fournier asked if the city had considered the Indigenous history of the land.

“I think this started an important conversation to make us think about, as we’re doing city business … whose history are we talking about and what should we consider …” Fournier said. “I appreciate that we’re moving forward with this different perspective.”


Last month, resident George Rheault presented the council with a copy of the 1925 deed and mortgage between the Noyes family and the developer of a nearby subdivision, also known as Bedford Park, which he said pointed to the family’s motivation for selling the park space and explained the Bedford Park name. An analysis by a city attorney found Rheault’s documents had no bearing on the council’s ability to rename the park.

The city’s Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department recommended the council approve the change based on historical evidence including newspaper clippings, maps from the 1930’s and a copy of a 1940 Portland City Guide referring to Noyes Park.

The history of the park is “clouded at best,” said Councilor Mark Dion, who noted he would support the change even though there are still questions about the two names. “As an individual I think it’s Bedford Park,” Dion said. “As a councilor I won’t stand in the way of a unanimous vote so there’s finality to this question.”

In other news Monday, the council voted 8-1 to approve the purchase of a property at 834 Riverside St. near Riverton Trolley Park using a $23,000 donation from Allagash Brewing and to place the land in the Portland Land Bank for preservation. Councilor Roberto Rodriguez, who voted against the purchase, questioned whether the city had done enough to explore the possibility of housing on the site. “I would be interested in knowing what Allagash’s position would be if the council were to want to pursue a little more in depth the possibility of development,” Rodriguez said.

Monday’s council meeting was held remotely via Zoom, but the council soon may resume in-person meetings following a trial run of equipment that would allow for remote participation. The city recently purchased equipment to support hybrid meetings, but due to supply chain issues the delivery is expected to take up to five months, Interim City Manager Danielle West said.

In the meantime, the city has come up with a temporary solution using a mobile smart board to allow for remote participation at meetings via Zoom. The temporary fix, which is expected to be given a test run at the March 21 council meeting, would allow for two-way communication and public comment to be taken via Zoom, though it would not allow for individual camera shots at the same time. Following the trial run, staff will provide the council with an update on the plan and time line for moving forward with hybrid meetings.

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