After listening to the opinions of several tennis enthusiasts and much debate, the Washington Park Board voted against naming the tennis courts at Phoenix Park after Jim Pounds.
The vote was 3-2 with Karen Maniaci and Bill Kackley in favor and Tessie Steffens, Bill Kloeppel and Dan Cassette against. President Debbie Toedebusch and Chantell Unnerstall were not present. Since Toedebusch was not present, Sparky Stuckenschneider presided over the meeting and did not vote, though he said he was in favor of naming the park after Pounds.
Stuckenschneider presented research he had done on what other cities do about naming facilities after citizens.
In many cities, he noted, naming something is a matter of money. Some even put naming out to bid.
That aspect is a way of getting financial support for the city and the parks department.
“Right now my feeling is that maybe down the road, this might be the way for Washington to go,” he said. “I don’t feel that way right now. My feeling is that we’ve got too much history — too much tradition.”
Stuckenschneider pointed out several other community facilities named after groups and people: the Bernie E. Hillermann Park, Burger Park, the James Rennick Riverfront Park, Krog Park, Jerry Jasper Lakeview Park, Optimist Park, McLaughlin Field, Lions Lake, Phoenix Park, Rotary Riverfront Trail, Heidman Industrial Park and Vossbrink Drive.
“Most of these were named after very, very influential, hardworking people who we’ve had in our community. I think that our community wouldn’t be what it is today without those people. I’m still in favor of this (naming the courts).”
Stuckenschneider said that a number of cities all over the country have naming policies, and said he is in favor of the city having a naming policy.
Other park board members agreed.
Steffens said there is a policy where someone writes a letter and collects letters of support. Stuckenschneider argued that it was a procedure and not a policy.
Kackley said the discussion has never been whether it’s all right to name the tennis courts after Jim Pounds.
“It was the naming of anybody, at this point, for anything,” he said.
The park commission voted in November to move the request to the full board.
Three citizens addressed the board to express their favor in naming the courts after the Washington tennis icon.
Nancy Burke, who has spoken on behalf of the tennis community at other meetings, said citizens don’t understand why the board wouldn’t want to honor Pounds, especially since a nearly identical proposal passed just a few months earlier.
The swimming complex was named after Agnes Nolting.
“If the commission thought the naming policy needed to be revised, it’s unfortunate it wasn’t done prior to a new proposal being under consideration and provoking the conversation,” Burke said, adding that she hopes the board does not change the policy. “I feel naming various facilities after deserving people is an important part of what makes Washington such a great place to live. It shows what is the most vital resource to this community — its people.”
Burke encouraged the board to create policies to continue recognizing residents who make Washington what it is today.
Fred Hodgson, who has lived in Washington since 1972, spoke about how well-rounded Pounds was in the community.
“We have a beautiful new setup now (at Phoenix Park) and I hope you can honor a man who had an awful lot to do about that,” he said.
The final citizen to speak was former Washington mayor Dick Hirschl, who kept his speech short, but expressed favor in naming the courts after Pounds.
After discussion, a roll call vote was taken. After the request was again voted down, the group of tennis proponents left.
Later, discussion continued because some members thought future votes on issues that are divided, as the tennis court naming has been, shouldn’t be taken unless all members are present.
Kackley pointed out that the issue would have passed if all members were present and voted the way they had in the past.
Concerned citizens can still bring the issue before the Washington City Council; however, there would be no recommendation from the park board.