Jan Dempsey

The Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center will be expanded and renovated

During its Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, the Auburn City Council declined to instruct city staff to research and draft a policy for naming municipal buildings, rooms or structures after individuals. 

City Councilman Kelley Griswold requested the move, noting the large number of city buildings coming online, including the new Public Safety Building, the planned municipal parking deck on Wright Street, expansions to Boykin Community Center and the Frank Brown Recreation Center, and the numerous facilities projects that are part of the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Master Plan. 

"This council is in a very unique position, a very fortunate position in fact, to have several capital programs that are going to be coming online during our tenure," said Griswold. "Right now, we currently have no process in place, so rather then debate that each and every time we consider a new facility as far as what we want to call it in the future, I thought it would be appropriate for us to establish some procedures."

Griswold said the objectives should include "people or families that have long-term contributions to the city."

"In the case of individuals, I think we would have to carefully consider whether we want living persons or deceased persons to be honored," he said. "I think because of the long-term implications of any decision that we make that it should be more than a simple majority."

Auburn City Manager Jim Buston said naming buildings in the city was "very rare" during his 23-year career with the city, and that typically council members or citizen groups had nominated individuals, citing the Frank Brown Recreation Center, the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center and the Douglas J. Watson Municipal Complex as examples.

"The previous councils have taken it very seriously when they're naming a facility after someone," he said. "It would have to be officially an action made by the council.

"It's very rare and the procedure has always been very simple."

"It seems like we already have a procedure in place," added Councilman Brett Smith. "I support a robust debate on each one when we decide to name one."

Councilwoman Beth Witten said she personally did not have any objection to how municipal buildings have been named in the past. 

"I don’t personally think we should instruct staff to waste city resources and time when nothing in the past has happened that brings us to this conversation that I’m aware of," she said.

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