Melville Campgrounds in Portsmouth, R.I., will soon receive a new name to honor the town’s first administrator.
The town council voted 6-0 to change the campgrounds’ name from Melville Campgrounds to the John O. Thayer Melville Campgrounds, EastBayRI.com reported.
Former council president Stephen Pappas went before the council May 14 to make the request.
Thayer’s son, Mark Thayer, told the council that his father saw acquiring Melville Campgrounds as his greatest achievement.
He said the family would be “happy to do whatever we need to do” to make the name happen.
Any costs incurred in changing the signs for the campgrounds could be fundraised, said Pappas. They will work with the town to see the project through.
The change does not need to happen overnight, he said, but “this was Mr. Thayer’s pride and joy” and when seeking to memorialize someone, it should be an appropriate location. This is that spot for him.
“It was his vision that the acreage would be preserved and protected in a natural state while providing the town with a continuing, positive revenue stream to enhance the quality of life for all Portsmouth residents while providing funding for Town recreational services and programming,” said Pappas in his backup for the agenda item.
Councilor Elizabeth Pedro was concerned that the land was actually owned by the Department of the Interior and not the town, but was reassured by other councilors that it is Portsmouth’s as long as the town continues to use it for recreation.
Thayer passed away last year, but left behind a long list of accomplishments. He served as the town’s first administrator for 17 years, retiring in 1990. He also served as the town moderator, was a member of the budget committee and served on the building committees for the town hall expansion and police station.
About the Campground
Formally named Melville Ponds Campground, it is owned by the town of Portsmouth and is located within 150 acres of coastal woodland dotted by wetlands, ponds, and brooks. Hiking trails provide a variety of opportunities for bird watching and other forms of nature appreciation. Freshwater fishing is available at the upper and lower ponds. The campground boasts spacious, wooded sites for RV’s and tents and is conveniently located just minutes from area beaches and historic Newport.