Council talks naming rights

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Suffolk City Council decided Wednesday to consider a policy on the naming of public buildings in the city.

In the past, the city has not had a uniform policy that prescribed when public buildings would be named after people or for whom they could be named. Some buildings, such as the Mills E. Godwin Courts Complex and the G. Robert House Water Treatment Plant, are named after people who contributed to the city with their service.

However, in recent years, City Council has avoided naming buildings after people, preferring instead to place bronze plaques honoring notable Suffolk residents and public servants in the lobbies of buildings. As a result, some buildings simply receive a moniker based on their use or location.

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For example, a move by some to name the new police administration building opened in 2009 after retired police chief William Freeman did not work, but a bronze plaque honoring Freeman still was placed in the building’s main entryway.

Some City Council members have expressed a desire to come up with a policy governing the naming of buildings. Planning director Scott Mills proposed a number of generically-named facilities that could benefit from new designations, with a few caveats — buildings shouldn’t be named after people who are still living, for example.

Councilman Charles Parr seemed reluctant to allow buildings to be named after people or organizations — unless they give plenty of money to help the building be constructed.

“If FedEx wants to come in here and build a football stadium, I don’t have a problem … naming it after them,” he said.

Parr wanted specific criteria that could provide a guideline on whom to honor when naming buildings.

Councilman Charles Brown said he felt the same way.

“I see a lot of problems when you begin to name streets and buildings after certain individuals,” he said.

The body voted to have a potential policy crafted and brought back for their approval.