The Holly Springs City Council voted unanimously Monday night to name the 33-acre park planned to be built near the Harmony on the Lakes subdivision on Hickory Road as “J.B. Owens Park,” after the late James Baxter “J.B.” Owens, the last agent at the historic Holly Springs Train Depot.
J.B. Owens Park was one of about 30 different names residents submitted to the city in the public naming process, which ended July 31, but several suggested naming the park for Owens, and members of the City Council quickly jumped on board.
Councilman Mike Zenchuk, who was among those who suggested the name, said Tuesday he hoped naming the park for Owens will help the memory of the late resident to live on.
“It continues J.B.’s legacy not only in Holly Springs but in Cherokee County,” Zenchuk said. “He’s a part of the history.”
Councilman Kyle Whitaker said Tuesday that a name like that of J.B. Owens was exactly what the city was going for with
the new park.
“While we’ve been working on the park design, one of the things we wanted to do was tie the park into Holly Springs,” he said. And considering Holly Springs’ reputation as a former railroad center, Whitaker said the name “J.B. Owens” makes a lot a sense.
Whitaker added that Owens’ work years ago to turn Kenney Askew Park in Canton from its former state as a landfill to the place so many enjoy today was another factor in the name choice.
Members of Owens’ family said Monday that they were honored by the gesture.
Pearl “Butch” Owens, who was married to J.B. for 60 years before he died four years ago, said having her late husband’s name affixed to the park is a “wonderful” thing for the City Council to do.
“I lived with my husband for 60 years and he loved Holly Springs and all the people,” Owens said. “Holly Springs was a special place for him.”
Owens’ daughters, Sonia Carruthers, also said the city’s tip of the hat to her father didn’t go unnoticed.
Carruthers said few honors for her father could be more fitting as the naming of a park, because he was a dedicated sports and recreation fan.
Owens especially followed Cherokee High School basketball, she said.
“He was so enthusiastic about sports in Cherokee County,” Carruthers said. “I didn’t think it was anything to get checked out of school to go to the state basketball tournament. It was like (being) unpatriotic if you didn’t go to the basketball tournament.”
Carruthers said those early days of her life with her father were times when his character as a “silent giver” and “unsung hero” showed clearly.
In those days, Owens would go out of his way to help other children and make sure they all made it to their sporting events, Carruthers said.
“He’s my dad, but he was just a really good guy,” she said.
Holly Springs City Manager Rob Logan said Tuesday that construction on J.B. Owens Park is hoped to begin later in 2013 or in early 2014.
“Construction should be complete by late summer or early fall 2014,” he said.
The park is being funded by a $1.5 million allowance from Cherokee County’s $90 million parks bond and will feature a walking trail, which will in part be handicapped-accessible, and several pavilions.