Sanford Road Park Re-Named Vern R. Campbell Park

Press release

City of Milan park located at 13225 Sanford Rd (York and Augusta Townships)

The Milan City Council, at their August 10, 2015 meeting, unanimously passed a resolution to change the name of “Sanford Road Park,” located at 13225 Sanford Road, to “Vern R. Campbell Park” in recognition of Vern R. Campbell’s 30 years of tireless work to greatly improve the city’s park system for future generations. “If it wasn’t for the work of Rev. Campbell, we would not have this park today, or many of the amenities that make all of our parks great. He made a selfless commitment to all the residents of Milan, not only for his time, but for future generations. This recognition is most certainly deserved and overdue,” said Mayor Michael Armitage.

Due to the significance of this resolution, the Parks and Recreation commission held a special meeting prior to the City Council meeting to approve and send forward the resolution to honor Vern Campbell’s legacy to the City Council. “After an in depth discussion by the members and guests present, it was decided that the best means to honor Vern Campbell would be to rename the entire Sanford Road Park. The recommendation was unanimously supported by the commission to rename Sanford Road Park,” according to commission chairman Dave Baldwin. The original idea to honor Rev. Campbell came from Mr. Ken Baumann and Mrs. Anne Farmer, who both previously served with Vern on the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Rev. Vern R. Campbell came to Milan in October of 1963 as pastor of the Peoples Presbyterian Church. He quickly became involved in the community, and by the early 1970s answered the city’s call for volunteers to help with lighting improvements at Wilson Park. He was then appointed to the first Parks and Recreation committee for the City of Milan and led that committee as its first chair. His contributions to the City of Milan park system were just beginning at that point. Under his leadership as chair of the committee the softball fields in Wilson Park were improved, new softball fields were built near Gump Lake, Nature Park was improved with a pavilion, and the first Parks and Recreation Master Plan was developed.

In the 1980s the city budgeted for a new footbridge over the Saline River in Wilson Park. After the bids were opened and the low bidder was identified, Rev. Campbell spoke with the company and was able to get two bridges within the budget the city had for one. Today, those bridges are a focal point of the scenic landscape of Wilson Park. He served on the Parks and Recreation Commission until 1995.

One of the extraordinary contributions to the Parks and Recreation program, however, was the facilitation of the donation of 139 acres of parkland from the Federal Government to the City of Milan. Rev. Campbell heard that the Federal Government was giving away certain property along Sanford Road near Arkona Road, and that a local government in the area could apply and perhaps receive the land at no cost. Rev. Campbell went to the city council, and was able to convince them to vote “yes” to apply for an application to receive the property. The City of Milan was ultimately awarded the property. Rev. Campbell then contacted a local farmer to plow, disc, and clean out the land to make it ready for its uses as walking and running trails, a flying field, a horse training area, and a local garden, among other things, and they still serve the community today and will for years to come.

Michael Armitage
City of Milan

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