The commission will consider Mayor Jerry Thorne's suggestion that the sports park on Hopyard Road be named in honor of the late Mayor Ken Mercer. The commission will have the opportunity to either ignore or modify the city's policy of waiting five years after a person's death before naming a public facility for them. It was adopted after an earlier council named the swimming center on Black Avenue in honor of retired parks and community services Director Dolores Bengston.
Thorne was a key leader in convincing a City Council 20 years ago to build a 50-meter pool on Black Avenuea pool that allowed the facility to become a magnet for competitive swimmers in the valley as well as Northern California for regional meets.
Dolores was running the parks and community services division at the time. Later, after she retired, the swimming complex was named in her honor.
Some people questioned whether it was appropriate to do that for a living person, let alone a person who was doing her job as a city employee. Thus the five-year policy.
Dolores made major contributions to the city (I serve with her on the Pleasanton Gardens' board and appreciate her wisdom and experience). That said, there is a major difference between an employee and a citizen essentially volunteering their time. That was Ken Merceras well as a number of other quality people I have known in elected office over the years.
Ken started his service to Pleasanton as a parks and recreation commissioner. He was an active user of the parks as well as a key advocate so say nothing about all of his other contributions to guiding Pleasanton into the community it is today.
There are a few of us aroundme being one of themwho knew Bill Herlihy who as a councilman pushed former Congressman Pete Stark (one of the few good things he did for the valley) to transfer the sports park from federal ownership to the city. That land became the sports park that was developed over a number of years.
Bill contributed during his four years on the council and the sports park that has been enjoyed by tens of thousands is part of his legacy.
Ken was a major political and non-profit player through the valley and the region. Along with his council colleagues, he executed on the vision that prior city councils had established to guide Pleasanton to where it is today.
Naming the major sports park for Ken is a fitting tribute to the service and the five-year waiting period should be simply irrelevant in this case. Somebody grabbed a number to establish a policy.
How many of us would love to still have Ken with us and be able to tap his wisdom and passion to make this city and the valley better places for people.