Franklin Park is getting a new name, a new sign, and new playground equipment following a car accident that damaged the park last summer. The newly named Harriet Spanel Park is located in Bellingham's York neighborhood.
"Harriet Spanel was known for her dedication, responsiveness and ethics," said Mayor Kelli Linville. "She never forgot her community and where she came from. That made her an excellent representative for all of us. She was my friend."
The Bellingham City Council approved a recommendation to change the name of Franklin Park to "Harriet Spanel Park" in honor of the late community activist and public servant. Spanel served on the Washington State Legislature for 22 years, from 1987-2009. Prior to her work at the State level, she served on the City of Bellingham Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
Spanel and her husband Les moved to Bellingham in 1968 and lived in the York neighborhood. Their son attended the Franklin School, and when the site was no longer part of the school district, Harriet was integral in saving the land for a city park.
Spanel passed away on February 2, 2016. In April 2016, the Sehome and York neighborhood associations requested the City rename Franklin Park in Spanel's honor.
A new park sign reflecting the name change is being installed this week. The Sehome Neighborhood Association is planning on honoring the change by installing an interpretive sign and holding a ceremony at the park later this year.