Our listener poll is now CLOSED.  Over the last week we have conducted a listener poll on the suggested renaming of Neahwa Park in Oneonta to honor fallen New York State Trooper Ricky J. Parisian.  This was the most active listener poll we have ever conducted and we thank you all for your participation!  As you will see below, the results are extremely close.  The poll question was "Do you want to rename Neahwa Park to Parisian Park?"  Yes or No?  A total of 1,549 people voted.

The results are: 
No - 781  (50.42%)
Yes - 768  (49.58%)

Below you will see the letter that we promised we would send to Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig with the poll results.  Again, this was only an opinion poll that does not suggest any official action that will be taken.

Dear Mayor Gary Herzig:

Over the last combined 50 years of broadcasting at our local radio stations, we have conducted numerous listener polls on our morning shows. From who to name the new airport after to what is your favorite Oneonta pizza parlor, these polls always generate a lot of interest.

For our most recent listener poll we fashioned a rationale for re-naming Neahwa Park in honor of slain NYS Trooper, and Oneonta native, Ricky Parisian. We asked a simple and direct question in our poll and invited people to vote yes or no on the re-naming suggestion. An astounding 1,549 listeners voted, a record for any of our countless listener polls.

The results are:

NO…….781 (50.42%)

YES……768 (49.58%)

Basically, a tie. Amazing.

We recognize that our listener polls are highly unscientific but we believe the numbers offer some great insight about the park and the man.

First, the park. It is abundantly clear that the majority want the park’s name to remain Neahwa. Even those that voted for the name change expressed a desire to have both, the name Neahwa and a discussion about a new memorial for Trooper Parisian.

We are also both parents who wheeled our babies around the park in the fall, cheered them on in the annual Fishing Derby, applauded with them at the July 4th fireworks celebrations and enjoyed countless ballgames, concerts and get-togethers in this, the jewel of the Oneonta park system. So we say…YES! We wholeheartedly agree with keeping the name Neahwa Park for future generations to enjoy.

Now, the man. More than two decades after Trooper Parisian was killed, we believe there is a strong interest in having a permanent, tangible memorial to him someplace in the city. This was manifest in the dozens of suggestions that came in from our listeners during the poll. While they clearly wanted the park to remain Neahwa, they also offered a myriad of possible memorials for him. As promised, we are forwarding a selection of those ideas to you.

Many mentioned traditional honors, like statues, plaques, and monuments. Several thought that perhaps a byway could be found in the park to be named after Rick. One suggested a small grove of trees to be christened “Parisian Park” in his honor for family gatherings. Another, a music pavilion. Many liked naming only a section of the park, a building or even a playing field. Some suggested naming Ball Field #5 in his honor, which we believe coincides with the finish line of the Pit Run. Others thought Muller Plaza on Main Street was a better choice of location. Some mentioned the creation of an Oneonta Walk of Fame with Rick among the initial honorees. A few suggested that “with the city’s new ten million dollars” recently something could be done in the new D&H rail yard area in his name. Many suggestions centered around athletic areas, with ball fields and running paths the most mentioned.

Perhaps the most frequent suggestion was to place a memorial to Rick in the beautiful, new Veterans Memorial Walkway area of Neahwa Park. We especially like this one.

Others thought no new memorial was necessary. We appreciate all votes, suggestions and comments that were made.

Thank you, Mayor Herzig. Upon our initial communication to you about our poll, you graciously passed the word on to your agencies including the Oneonta Parks and Rec Commission and all Oneonta City Council members. In fact, one council member contacted us and said if the meaning of Neahwa was in fact a reference to the parkland being a gift to the city he would have to vote no. However, this same council member said, “We can honor Trooper Parisian with another memorial and I believe that the City and the Town of Oneonta should collaborate on this with the councils and the mayor.”

Our only request is that if this commission is formed that the public be invited to make suggestions in the memorial design. Believe us, if you ask, you will get plenty of ideas!

Of course we have communicated with the Parisian family members in Oneonta about this endeavor. This family has turned a personal tragedy into a force for good in our community and they are to be praised for this. Their Pit Run Scholarships, now in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, are the seeds that will grow and produce great results among our area youth for years to come.

We’d especially like to single out Rick’s widow, Deb Parisian, with whom we have been in close contact with throughout. Her words of encouragement and support regarding the poll have been heartfelt and most gracious to us. She told us: “I am humbled and honored by your thoughts, actions and sensitivity on behalf of others, in this case Rick and the Parisian family. The beauty of the collection of opinions is how we all grow, with the key being self-respect as well as respecting others.”

Deb Parisian is a remarkable woman.

So, as for the park. In our humble opinion…”LONG LIVE NEAHWA PARK” and may her boundaries be forever marked only by unlimited good memories and friendships that last for years.

As for the man. We hope our listener poll sparks a discussion for other ways to honor a local hero. May God Bless You Ricky J. Parisian. Your hometown loves you. And…thank you for your service.

Mayor Herzig, we hope you will pass this letter on to your committees.


Leslie Ann, WZOZ Radio
Big Chuck, WDOS Radio