The thousands of people who have signed an online petition asking the city to change the name on Jefferson Davis Park in south Fort Worth will have to wait several months before that could even happen.
The earliest the Park and Recreation Advisory Board can hear about the issue will be at its Sept. 27 meeting. If it decides to change the name, it can take up to 90 days before the matter is before the City Council.
The 8.5-acre Jefferson Davis Park, named nearly 95 years ago for the president of the Confederacy, is at 4001 Townsend Drive, off Seminary Drive in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.
Richard Zavala, the city’s park director, said Monday he met with Councilwoman Ann Zadeh on Friday. She asked him to meet with about five people who have contacted her about a possible name change. The process involves contacting key stakeholders, neighborhood leaders and making sure there are no restrictions on the property.
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So far, the request to look into the issue has been made by Zadeh, but the entire City Council is aware of it, he said. As of Monday afternoon, the online petition had been signed by 5,675 people, gaining about 1,000 signatures over the weekend. That petition will have to be delivered to the city for it to be considered.
“I have not received any letters or proposals from anyone recommending the name be changed,” Zavala said.
The petition was started following the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va., and a national movement to remove Confederate statues, monuments and other symbols.
Robert Snoke, president of the Rosemont Neighborhood Association, the neighborhood where the park is located, said he is opposed to a name change because doing so will create resentment.
“It’s a landmark,” Snoke said. “History is there for us to learn, good, bad or indifferent.”
The city has 273 parks, with the bulk of them named for their geographic location. In this case, though, if the name is changed, the city will have to come up with some other option. The 30-acre Rosemont Park is at 1400 Seminary Drive, less than a mile from Jefferson Davis Park.
Zadeh said Monday she thinks parks named for geographic locations, outstanding features, neighborhoods or subdivisions make the most sense.
“This lends to the community ownership and pride of a neighborhood asset,” Zadeh said. “I also believe it makes sense to name parks after individuals that have made extraordinary contributions with some specific tie to the community in which the park is located.”
In their recent research, the park department has found that the city acquired about 10 acres in 1923 from J.W. and Odella Draughon for the park. Some of those parcels were sold to develop the park.