A story from City of Lakewood.
The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board voted unanimously last night to deny an application to rename Fort Steilacoom Park in honor of Dr. Claudia B. Thomas.
The park will remain Fort Steilacoom Park.
Residents may apply to rename Lakewood Parks & Facilities. When an application is completed, a public hearing is scheduled to consider it. Whenever a public hearing is scheduled, the City issues a public notice so that the community may comment.
In this instance, the process worked as designed. The community was informed and participated in the decision.
Among other criteria, any suggested name must “have broad public support” (Res. 2016-18, Sec. 1, B.5). This application failed that standard – a majority of comments opposed renaming the park.
Why did the City of Lakewood propose this?
The City of Lakewood did not propose to rename the park. Residents may apply to rename facilities. A Lakewood resident completed an application and the City followed the procedure to consider it.
Is the renaming of parks a priority for City resources?
No. Renaming applications are considered by the volunteer Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. Stewardship of local parks is the business of the board. If the board were to recommend that a facility be renamed, only then would it reach City Council.
Who is Dr. Claudia B. Thomas?
Claudia Thomas was a member of the inaugural City Council in 1995 and served as Deputy Mayor from 1995 to 2003. She was voted mayor in 2006, making her the first female Black mayor in Washington State.
Dr. Thomas influenced the formation of Lakewood’s Youth Council. She initiated the allocation of 1% of the City’s general fund towards human services. She created Lakewood’s Promise, an advisory board committed to helping children become successful adults.
Dr. Thomas was an honorable and important figure in Lakewood’s history. She died in 2018.