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Naming protocol on the way for city parks

Monday, August 3, 2015 by Audrey McGlinchy, KUT

The road to naming city parks and recreation facilities has been strewn with indecision and tough choices.

And so, the Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday said it would begin drafting its own protocol for the naming and renaming of its land and buildings.

“This has been an issue that has really troubled us as staff and as a previous board because people wanted to name everything in a park,” Parks Director Sara Hensley told an almost entirely new board, at its July meeting. (Jane Rivera and Michael Casias are the only two returning members.)

“Many times we struggled with the process, and the overall approval,” she said.

Last year, City Council considered a new name for a park on Del Cuerto Road four times before finally combining two of the suggested names into one crossbreed title: The Tom Lasseter South Lamar Neighborhood Park.

In March, board members passed a resolution asking Council to establish a moratorium on park naming after members said their agendas had become clogged with name approval requests. Members sought a stoppage on naming items until they had time to come up with a satisfactory process for doing so.

Although that resolution did not come before the dais, Council members did unanimously vote to table the renaming of the Onion Creek Greenbelt at their March 26 meeting, effectively keeping the name of the park as is.

According to city code, the city’s police department has its own protocol for naming department buildings. They must be named for officers killed in the line of duty, someone must sponsor the movement, and officer names are approved in the order in which the officers died.

Parks Chair Rivera said at Tuesday’s meeting that this sets a precedent for what her board is looking to do.

“We got the idea that we could do our own thing from the police department because they have their own little separate section of the naming ordinance, and so we’re going to request of the Council once we have something we’re all happy with that we get the same sort of consideration,” she said.

Rivera described what she called the “Solomon-like” process of choosing a person after whom to name a park or department facility.

“In one case, we had two families of two young people who had been killed in accidents coming and requesting that the exact same park be renamed for their sons,” she said. “How can you say yes to one and no to the other? And yet if we recommended that it be renamed for both, they both were upset because they wanted the whole park to be named after their son.”

Rivera said that one idea is to create a memorial room within a park, where dedications can be made. “Where you could put up a really nice historical plaque or something of that nature,” she said. Rivera said the Parks Department will draft a list of naming recommendations for the board to review at an upcoming meeting.

Adam naming the animals. Etching. Wellcome V0034186” by Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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