Making good on a promise, the Washington Park Board revisited the issue of naming the tennis courts at Phoenix Park after Washington tennis legend Jim Pounds.
After a heated discussion Thursday night, the administration/operations committee was hung up with a 3-3 tie on whether or not to name the tennis courts after Pounds. Commissioner Bill Kackley, who presided at the meeting, cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the proposal.
The suggestion is to name only the tennis courts the James Pounds Tennis Center at Phoenix Park, which keeps the Phoenix name as well as recognizes Pounds.
A handful of community members, supporters of the recognition of Pound’s, attended the meeting, but remained quiet as the commission discussed the issue.
Those in favor were Chantell Unnerstall, Karen Maniaci and Sparky Stuckenschneider. Those who voted against the naming were Bob Kloeppel, Dan Cassette and Debbie Toedebusch. Tessie Steffens was not present.
“The city has set a precedent of honoring people in multiple ways,” Stuckenschneider said, adding that Agnes Nolting and Steve Reust are prime examples in the community.
Parks commission members agreed that through the process, they felt bullied with phone calls and especially with the editorial printed in The Missourian.
“I felt, and I think that others felt, that (Bill Miller Sr.) including his statement of what we should do in his editorial was a type of intimidation toward the park board,” Kackley said.
Following the meeting, Mark Hidritch, city council liaison, said Miller “does that (intimidates with editorials) to all of us.”
Karen Maniaci, who originally was opposed to the naming, said she has changed her mind, despite feeling bullied.
“I think if it was named, just the tennis court area and not the park, I would be OK with that,” she said. “But I do agree that we felt a little bullied.”
“I didn’t get any phone calls or bullied, but I’m still against naming stuff after people,” Cassette said. “It’s nothing against Jim Pounds, nothing against Agnes Nolting or Steve Reust. I think those are all mistakes. Just because we’ve made mistakes in the past, doesn’t mean we have to keep up with it.”
Cassette said he thinks naming facilities after people is an insult to volunteers in the Washington community.
Toedebusch said she could see both sides, but agreed that Washington is a community of volunteers and there are other ways to honor individuals.
Hidritch voiced his opposition to the naming, noting that there are many unnamed, unrecognized volunteers in the community.
“The other side of that is that no one else is coming to us to name these tennis courts,” Unnerstall said.
Toedebusch said she would like the issue of naming a facility after someone not to come up again.
“I think we should make a decision not to have (naming a facility after someone) brought to the table again,” Toedebusch said. “Are we going to consider this always, or are we not going to not consider naming every tree, branch and every park after someone?”
Other park commission members said they felt each individual case should be up to the current board.
Kackley said he never had anything against naming the tennis courts after Pounds, and in the future, if someone else deserves an honor, they also should be considered.
The topic was moved forward to the full park board meeting, which is set for Dec. 6, at city hall.