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Teen wins chance to rename park

The vote has been tallied and the winner of the Name the Park Contest is clear.

Of five finalists, 13-year-old Abe Hirvela's name — 18 Oaks — was the name selected with more than 50 percent of the vote in a five-way race.

Other contenders included Phoenix Park, People's Park, JO BOB — the initials of nearby avenues — and Gete-oodena, which means "old town."

But it's more than just the name chosen for the playground at North 18th Street and Oakes Avenue — it's also what will be planted in the play area in the easternmost area of the city's 8th Council District.

When Abe suggested the name, taken from the location of the play area, he also suggested planting 18 oak trees in the play area.

"It's helping rebuild a part of the city that's not really known for that great of things," Abe said of including the planting with the suggested name.

The Superior Middle School seventh-grader, who likes to play baseball and basketball and hang around with his friends, said he decided to enter the contest based on a suggestion from his grandfather.

"It was clever," said Linda Cadotte, Superior's parks, recreation and forestry director. She was equally impressed that Abe took into consideration the value trees add to the neighborhood.

Abe has been invited to attend the Feb. 6 City Council meeting when councilors consider the recommendation of the Parks and Recreation Commission to name the play area 18 Oaks.

After he won, Abe received a call from Councilor Craig Sutherland who represents the district where the play area is located, and from Mayor Jim Paine.

"He congratulated me and said he would try to get the trees in the park," Abe said of the mayor's call.

Paine said the name really was creative and simple because it is close to what it's long been referred to: the playground at 18th and Oakes Avenue.

Abe plans to be there when the park gets its new name.

Sutherland called and thanked him for participating and wanted to take him to dinner, which is nice, said Eve Utryo, Abe's mother.

Sutherland, who will award Abe his $100 Super One gift card Feb. 6, said he plans to take Abe to a local restaurant around the time he receives his award.

The new name, which was approved Thursday by the Parks and Recreation Commission, still has to be approved by the City Council. Cadotte said there is a 60-day public comment period before the play area Council considers the new name.

Cadotte said the plan is to plant the new trees, install the sign with the park's new name and celebrate Arbor Day sometime in May.

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