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What's in a Name? How Money Could Change Austin Park Names

KUT News

The Austin City Council is considering changing a city code that relates to the naming or renaming of parks and park facilities this week.

Right now, the code states that parks can only be named after a person or a group that has made 'exceptional contributions' to the park system. In fact, the process is pretty simple: a person submits an application asking for a park facility to named or renamed and, after 90 days, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Board and the city council review all of the suggested names.

The proposed amendment would make it more difficult to change a park name based on community significance. It would require signatures from up to 75 percent of residents in the area of a park or park facility.

The amendment would also add a 'financial contribution component' to the process. No signatures would be required, but name changes could be awarded based on money or land donated to the city.

The current code disallows finances to be considered. And the new code could make it hard for the average Austinite to pursue a name change based on community significance.

It should be noted that some of Austin's most well-known parks have been named after landowners who've donated acreage to the city to create parks. Zilker Park and Pease Park were both named after their benefactors. But, many of Austin's other parks have been named after influential people from the community, like the Gus Garcia Recreation Center and Park, which was named after Austin's first Hispanic Mayor. 

The code change is on the city council's work session agenda today. Their regular meeting is this Thursday at City Hall.

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