Councilor pushes to honor former New Auburn shop owners

AUBURN — A family of shop owners could see the parcel between Rolly's Diner and the Little Androscoggin River named in their honor.

City Councilor Belinda Gerry made a to pitch to name the plot in honor of Dennis J. "Dinny" Sullivan and his son John J. Sullivan.

"Whether we call it Sullivan Park or Sullivan Square doesn't matter," Gerry said.

Gerry has been considering naming the plot in honor of the Sullivans for a few months, but other councilors and Mayor Jonathan LaBonte had asked to wait while the council drafted a policy to make sure parks, squares, bridges and city facilities are named fairly and in a public manner.

Don Gerrish, interim city manager, said he had drafted a policy that did that until he learned that Auburn already had one, adopted by councilors in August 2007.

"The system we have for filing is not the greatest," he said.

The policy allows councilors to pick names for individuals that have made the city better in some way.

Gerry said she feels the Sullivans did that.

"We need to do this now and name this park to preserve the history," she said. "There are not too many people who remember the Sullivan's store the way I do when I grew up and even fewer who remember John's father when he ran it."

Dennis J. "Dinny" Sullivan was born in Schull, County Cork, Ireland, in 1873 and emigrated to the United States in 1899, settling in Auburn. He opened his grocery store at 12 South Main St. in New Auburn in about 1911. Today, it's a grassy area behind Rolly's Diner.

He died in 1957, leaving his store to his son, John J. Sullivan.

"I didn't know Dinny Sullivan because he died before I was born, but I knew his boy," she said. "When we'd come to town, there would always be people talking politics there, about what was going on in the city. It was just a place where people could go."

Gerry will draft a nomination for naming the plot, and councilors will review it at a future meeting.

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A Very Good Idea

I hope Ms Gerry"s proposal succeeds. We are losing neighborhood.important historical identities. There are some really interesting ones out there. This is a good start.


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