Dr. Maurice Hilleman Memorial Park?

Star Staff Writer
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At 8.4 acres and established in 1890, Riverside Park is both the oldest and largest park in Miles City.

It also happens to be one of the few parks not named after a person. City Council Member John Uden wants to change that.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Uden spoke passionately about a Miles City native who impacted the lives of millions, but has gone largely unrecognized: Dr. Maurice Hilleman. Uden proposed changing the name of Riverside Park to Dr. Maurice Hilleman Memorial Park.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website, Dr. Hilleman was responsible for developing more than 40 vaccines, including those for measles, mumps and rubella, and is thus responsible for saving more than a million lives and eradicating common childhood diseases.

Hilleman was born in Miles City, grew up during the Great Depression, and graduated from Custer Country District High School.

Uden argued that Hilleman is a man worth honoring, and that Riverside Park, since it bears no namesake founder, is the ideal place to make such a gesture.

He also noted that Merck, the company Hilleman worked for during the bulk of his career, has indicated they would be willing to provide plaques for the park if the name is changed. 

Council Member Dwayne Andrews, chairman of the Public Service Committee, which would study the proposed name change and make a recommendation to the full council, said he doesn’t think the city has changed a park name before. 

He said the process would require a resolution that would go through the normal process of two readings at city council meetings with opportunity for public comment. The Public Service Committee does not anticipate addressing the name change proposal before the end of the year.

The Tongue River originally bordered the park — hence, Riverside Park — before the city altered the course of the river in 1897 to reduce erosion.

(Contact Austin Lott at mcstarreporter@gmail.com or 406-234-0450.)