Douglas County commissioners allow naming property after people

2-1 vote also renamed event center at fairgrounds after former commissioner


Douglas County is now able to name its buildings and other properties after someone who has died after the commissioners approved a rule change in a split 2-1 vote Oct. 12.

Commissioners George Teal and Abe Laydon, who voted in favor of the change, then also voted to name the Douglas County Fairgrounds and Events Center after James R. Sullivan, a county commissioner from 1989 to 2004.

“The list is short to find somebody who contributed quite as much to the county and what this county is today than James R. Sullivan,” Teal said in the meeting.

Teal and Laydon both spoke in support of the motion, with Teal speaking about the contributions Sullivan, or “Sully” as he was often known, made to the county as a commissioner and the country as a veteran.

Teal said it was appropriate to name the events center after Sullivan because the building was constructed during the tenure of the longtime commissioner.

“He was a huge fan of the fair, he was a huge fan of the rodeo, a huge fan of the 4-H efforts,” Teal said. 

Sullivan was “instrumental in envisioning and working to create” the Douglas County Fairgrounds and Events Center, according to the resolution. 

Sullivan was also elected to the Colorado House in 2004 and served one term.

Commissioner Lora Thomas voted against both resolutions, saying that she was part of the board that agreed to disallow the practice in 2018.

“We decided we would not name anything, any county property after any individual unless there had been a financial contribution to that, that would be the one exception,” she said.

Thomas gave the example of the county’s Miller building, named for Philip S. Miller, who named the county as a beneficiary of his trust. Thomas said then-commissioner Roger Partridge had brought up the topic.

“Roger convinced us that there are so many really talented people in this county, there are a lot of people who make contributions to our county in various ways,” she said. “How do you choose between everybody here who you’re going to name something after?”

Laydon voiced interest in seeing future people honored this way, including possibly Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old who was killed while rushing a school shooter at STEM School Highlands Ranch in May 2019.

“I never want to condition recognition or acknowledgement on the ability to pay for it,” Laydon said. 

Sullivan died at his Perry Park home in April 2020 at the age of 92. Originally from Iowa, he moved to Douglas County in 1972. In addition to the fairgrounds, Sullivan had a part to play in the county open space program and E-470. 

On Oct. 16, just a few days after the building became the James R. Sullivan Events Center, a memorial was held in the facility for the late commissioner. 


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