On a cold, windy morning, friends and fellow veterans gathered for a final tribute in a most-appropriate location. The gathering also marked the first step for a new City initiative.
City Council Member Devyn Keith unveiled Saturday morning the first in a series of “Save a Spot for Veterans” parking places.
The inaugural spot is outside City Hall on Fountain Circle and is named in honor of the late Ralph Timberlake, a community activist who was a constant presence at City Council meetings inside that very building.
Timberlake was somebody who not only fought for the freedom of America but the rights of his community.”
The “Save a Spot for Veterans” program was introduced by Keith, who represents District One. He wants to assure available and convenient parking spots for veterans and active duty military personnel.
The idea for the program first came to Keith when a veteran who needed mobility assistance and a convenient spot for his swimming therapy sessions at the Dr. Richard Showers Center.
Timberlake, who passed away in October at age 69, was the inspiration for this first parking space. Timberlake, a highly decorated veteran, was a relentless figure in a fight for transparency in government and frequent speaker in public forums at the City Council meetings.
“He was a member of the family of the City Council for a long time,” Mayor Tommy Battle said.
“Mr. Ralph Timberlake was somebody who not only fought for the freedom of America but the rights of his community,” Keith said.
Thus, the appropriateness of this first space, named in his honor and along Fountain Circle in front of City Hall.
His long-time companion, Mary Cosby, smiled as she referred to Timberlake’s famously rich vocabulary and thanked the City officials for the honor.
“Ralph would probably say some big word, but I’m going to keep it simple. Thank you to everyone,” she said.
Keith has worked with the City’s Parking and Public Transportation department to have other designated parking spaces across the city. As Beverly Lowe, Parking Operations and Special Events Coordinator noted, “It’s not just for certain veterans. You don’t have a disability to park there.”
Similar spots will be available at downtown garages on Monroe and Clinton streets, at the Twickenham parking garage and the City garage on Fountain adjacent to the engineering building. They will also be in place at the Showers Center and the Huntsville Aquatics Center.
Keith said he hopes the plan will catch on in the private sector as well. A number of businesses have parking spots for disabled veterans, but Keith would like to expand on those programs “to pay our respects for what they’ve done, and the things they continue to do for our community.”