Council adopts new naming policy
EVERETT - The City Council adopted a new naming policy for public places at last week’s meeting.
People will still submit name requests to the mayor’s office, which gets first review. If the mayor’s office believes the request meets policy guidelines, it will then go to the advisory historical commission for public review and a hearing. (In earlier discussions, the council considered making the planning department the place of first review.)
If the historical commission forwards a request to the City Council, the council would then conduct one more public hearing before making a final decision.
The policy allows name requests for any public building, facility, natural feature or street, but registered historic landmarks should not be renamed.
The city hopes the new policy creates more transparency in the naming process.
There is a restriction on renaming public places after deceased community members until one year has passed. Living people can have places renamed after them without a waiting period.
The one-year restriction could affect a neighborhood group’s interest in renaming Northwest Neighborhood Park after late Councilman Drew Nielsen, who died May 12 in a rafting accident.
The policy has a clause that lets the City Council autonomously name public places by resolution without any restrictions, but it’s unknown at press time whether the council would use it in the Nielsen case.
The one-year rule was put in deliberately to prevent knee-jerk name changes, Councilman Paul Roberts said. Roberts, however, would support the Nielsen request.
Before he died, Nielsen himself supported a waiting period, Roberts said.
Other council members did not want to comment on renaming the park.
City administration won’t be bending the rules to accommodate the Nielsen request.
“There would be no way we would knowingly break a policy,” chief administrative officer Debra Bryant said.
The neighborhood group’s request is still open for consideration. The mayor’s office told the group to wait until the council finalized the policy before the request would be considered.
The council voted unanimously to approve the public naming policy without making any changes. Since this time last year, two requests — the Nielsen park request and a request to rename the old City Hall after former mayor Bill Moore — have been made. The Moore request generated opposition from the public because the old City Hall is a registered historic building. It eventually led the council to review and revise its naming policy.
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