Possible names for community center revealed

April 16, 2010 

The naming committee for the city's long-awaited community center on Monday decided on three tentative recommendations to send to the City Council.

The group will meet again on May 3 at 5 p.m. at City Hall Conference Room A, 520 J St. At the May meeting the seven-member panel will finalize its choices and decide if it wants to also recommend names for the rooms inside the facility.

The naming committee took a preliminary vote to give council members the choice of calling the building the Los Baños Community Center, Los Baños Westside Community Center or Westside Community Center.

"I think as a whole, as a community, the three names we have here... I think it entails the whole group of people, and different races of people we have here," said Jon Grissom, a committee member. "We don't want to label this committee as being the committee that did the wrong thing. I think by giving the community the opportunity to say, 'We live on the Westside' or, 'We live in Los Baños,'everybody can join in and say this is part of my community."

The discussion leading up to the vote included committee members recounting conversations they had with the public in which they asked for suggested names. Responses they reported receiving included naming the center after veterans or individuals such as the family who owned the land the facility is being built on.

Committee member Pascual Mendivil wanted the committee to recommend the facility be named the Louis R. McMullen Community Center, after a local veteran who died in the line of duty.

Committee member Norm Donovan, who is a veteran himself, disagreed with Mendivil.

"There's a lot of people in this town who aren't veterans. And when you name it after any particular group you leave too many people out," Donovan said.

Mendivil responded.

"You're a veteran, you can speak for yourself. Mr. McMullen went down with the ship, that's why I'm speaking for him," he said. "He paid the ultimate price."

Committee member Arlene Cardoza was handed a list of names of local veterans by a member of the public she spoke to about the community center.

"Mr. McMullen as well as all these other names that Mr. Marques gave me paid the ultimate sacrifice, so we can't just single out one," she said.

Donovan said most veterans he knows do not want the center named after people who've served in the Armed Forces.

Mendivil said he believes that veterans may be afraid to speak up and say what they really believe because their feelings were hurt when the school district did not vote to name its newest high school after them as they had requested.

Councilman Joe Sousa, who moderates the committee, said in his mind if members choose to suggest the council name the center after veterans the names of the rooms inside should logically have a patriotic theme. He advised the committee that it does not have to follow his suggestion, but it is what makes sense to him.

During the discussion on naming the center's rooms, Cardoza suggested using some of the names of the people involved in the incorporation of the town. Mendivil said that he believes before those names are used the ones presented by the naming committee for streets and facilities, which was formed prior to the current panel, should be given priority.

"They had the recommendations and instead of respecting their will we gave them the back of our hands," Mendivil said.

He proposed honoring three recommendations the council accepted in the middle of the last decade -- that something be named after Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King and the Yokut tribe.

The committee is expected to decide on the issue May 3.

Enterprise staff writer Corey Pride can be reached at 388-6563 or cpride@losbanosenterprise.com

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