I received an email this week from the Office of the Mayor proposing the re-naming of the Bonita Canyon Sports Park to the Ronald Reagan Sports Park.
First, let me go on record as saying I loved Ronald Reagan. I loved “Bedtime for Bonzo and still can’t believe he didn’t win the Academy Award for that performance.
The chimp, not Ronnie.
I also loved what he did as our president and only wish that we could find someone else of that caliber to move forward with.
But name a park in Newport Beach after him?
Didn’t we just get over a community discussion on whether or not we should name the Oasis Senior Center after Evelyn Hart?
And she’s a local.
Consider for a moment what Hart meant: she spent 16 years on the Newport Beach City Council, serving twice as mayor. She was involved in too many local community projects and committees to list, including being a major fundraiser for Oasis. She was also a founding member and an instrumental part in Air Fair, an organization designed to fight growth at John Wayne Airport.
All these efforts combined earned Evelyn Citizen on the Year accolades in 2007.
But, according to Mayor Keith Curry, she wasn’t good enough to name a building after, just a community room.
Compare this to Ronald Reagan and his involvement in our community. OK, he might’ve sat on a barstool at the Balboa Bay Club a time or two, but other than that, well, I don’t recall anything specific that stands out.
Then it came to me!
Mayor Curry is one step ahead of all of us, trying to keep up with our subtle local cowboy heritage. You know, John Wayne Airport, Ronald Reagan Sports Park and, wait, let me guess, the Roy Rogers Civic Center and the Rowdy Yates Library.
OK, you caught me, it would have to be the Clint Eastwood Library because he played Rowdy Yates, but my point still stands.
Then I remembered that the “Duke” actually lived here, the rest didn’t,
So, I checked the list of Newport Beach’s famous residents to see if somehow I missed Reagan.
I found Dennis Rodman on it, and even though Dennis was a lot closer to sports than Reagan was, I don’t think we want to go there.
But Shirley Temple, Joey Bishop, Dean Koontz, Lauren Bacall and Dick Dale were all on the list. All legends in their own way.
But to me, when I think of community institutions with someone’s name attached, it needs to remind me of our proud, rich history.
The Marian Bergeson Pool, Hoag Hospital, the Carroll Beek Community Center, Bob Henry Park and the Robins-Loats Building at Newport Harbor High School, to name just a few.
They all do.
Mayor, if you’re looking for a name, look to our community. There are plenty of worthy individuals.
A news report on Mayor Curry’s proposal is on page tk.