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Fight over park name means Council will have to vote once again

Monday, June 30, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

Despite hours of meetings and two visits to City Council, the park at 3000 Del Curto Road remains officially nameless because of a disagreement among those interested in the question.


Three names were originally under consideration for the park: Del Curto Park, South Lamar Neighborhood Park and Tom Lasseter Park.


Council postponed the park naming at the June 12 meeting, in order to allow the neighborhood to come to some consensus. However, that did not happen. Instead, the disagreement spread to Council, which voted 4-3 in favor of naming the park Tom Lasseter Park, with Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Members Kathie Tovo and Laura Morrison voting in opposition. That vote was not enough to approve the renaming on all three readings, so Council members will vote again at their next meeting in August.


The Parks and Recreation Board was unable to come to an agreement on the park name at its most recent meeting, and offered no recommendation to Council.


Though to the untrained eye it might appear otherwise, there has been some progress on the park naming. The main proponent of naming the park Del Curto Park, Bruce Evans, reconsidered.


“He has realized that Tom Lasseter Park is, without question, the best and right name for the park,” said Carrie Lasseter, daughter of Tom Lasseter.


Early Friday morning, Carrie Lasseter went on to detail her father’s accomplishments. Lasseter was a high profile Austinite before his 2011 death. Among other things, Lasseter served in both World War II and the Korean War. As an architect, he was responsible for the round Holiday Inn on Lady Bird Lake. Lasseter was involved with the Kiwanis Club, served on the board of directors for the YMCA of Austin, and was federation chief of the YMCA’s Indian Guide Program in 1968.


“I’m asking that you preserve this history. Preserve the meaning, the character, the soul of this property, by naming it after a person, an individual who was directly involved with the property and who contributed so much in the way of community service to Austin: my dad, Tom Lasseter.”


Tom Lasseter lived on the property in the 1960s. A subsequent buyer later donated it to the city. Though it was slated for a vertical mixed-use project, the neighborhood association successfully fought to turn the land into a park.


Mayor Lee Leffingwell spoke in favor of naming the part after Tom Lasseter, singling out his military service.


“He must have been a great man, because his daughter is so dedicated in his support,” said Leffingwell.


South Lamar Neighborhood Association founder Bryan King spoke in favor of naming the park after the group, and name the park’s bridge after him.


King had Morrison’s support. “This park is here because of the South Lamar Neighborhood Association,” said Morrison. “I saw the blood, sweat and tears that went into creating this park that is going to be, now, available to the neighborhood for years to come.”


Morrison suggested the city find another way to remember Lasseter.


Council Member Mike Martinez urged Council to seize the opportunity to honor Lasseter through land that he had lived on and improved for years, saying, “How do we appropriately honor a man when we just took the property that was his and named it after something else?”


For his part, Council Member Bill Spelman had a simple reason for voting against naming the park South Lamar Neighborhood Park: “It’s not on South Lamar. That’s going to add some practical difficulties for people looking for it,” said Spelman.

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