AUBURN — A small patch of New Auburn green space may be named to reflect more than just one former shopkeeper there.
Councilors received at least four suggestions for naming the lot at 8 S. Main St., the grassy lot between Rolly's Diner and the Little Androscoggin River. One came from Auburn Councilor Belinda Gerry, who wants to name the lot after former shopowner Dinny Sullivan.
Two more came from Mayor Jonathan LaBonte, who favors a more generic name.
A fourth came from a former neighbor who wanted to recognize owners of the Progressive Bakery, another New Auburn business that shared a wall with the Sullivan's shop.
Councilors reviewed all four at their afternoon workshop meeting, but deferred a decision, choosing to schedule a public hearing later this summer.
Gerry, who has been working to memorialize Sullivan and his former store for several months, said she was frustrated by the delays.
"I don't like being patted on my head and being told to wait, and having the feeling that the rug keeps getting pulled out from under my feet," Gerry said. "I'm being honest with you all, because I feel we are sort of a family. We need to get it out, what we feel."
Gerry began calling for naming the spot Sullivan Park in the spring, in honor of Dennis J. "Dinny" Sullivan and his son, John J. Sullivan, who owned a variety store on that spot for years.
Dennis Sullivan emigrated to the U.S. in 1899, settling in Auburn. He opened his grocery store at 12 S. Main St. in New Auburn about 1911. Today, it's a grassy area behind Rolly's Diner.
Councilors and LaBonte said they need to follow a formal policy, taking suggestions from the public.
Gerry was the first to put her suggestion forward, but hers wasn't the only one. Former City Councilor Donna Lyons Rowell suggested the city take Gerry's advice, but name the spot Sullivan Square.
Joel Goodman, of 94 Conant Ave., suggested the park include the name of the Zallen family, which owned the Progressive Bakery next door to the Sullivan's store. Goodman suggested calling the spot Sullivan-Zallen Park or Sullivan-Zallen Square.
LaBonte included two nominations, suggesting the site be called either the Two Bridges Greenway or the New Auburn Heritage Park.
"Unfortunately, the entire parcel was not home to Sullivan's Market. There were other businesses there," LaBonte said. "There's a bigger New Auburn story that ought to be celebrated. I'm not sure if it makes sense to pick a heritage group to recognize or individual businesses."
But councilors said they also need to figure out what they're naming. Planning Director Eric Cousens said the city is in negotiations with Rolly's Diner to swap part of the parcel that runs behind the restaurant with a nearby spot that goes down to the Little Androscoggin River. That would allow the city to build a park and a greenway path along the Little Androscoggin River to the confluence with the Androscoggin River.
LaBonte suggested councilors get a full report on the plans for a park there at the public hearing when they review the proposed names.