Saturday, April 26, 2008

Parkway Park Naming Announcement

Parks panel backs Internet voters’ choice for name
By Ed Fletcher -
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, April 26, 2008

With a nod from Internet voters and the county parks commission, River Bend Park appears to be the successor to the Sacramento County recreation area formerly known as Goethe Park.

County supervisors voted in January to temporarily revert to the park's original name, American River Parkway South, after concerns were raised about Charles M. Goethe's white supremacist and pro-Nazi leanings.

Thursday evening, the Sacramento County Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously to endorse naming the recreation area River Bend Park.

"There is a big bend right at that part of the parkway," said Dan Gonzales, parks commissioner and chairman of the park naming committee.

The Board of Supervisors – which has the final say – is expected to take up the issue May 27.

It will cost between $12,000 and $32,000 to create new signage for park. Officials say signs will explain the name change.

While Goethe was a noted philanthropist and naturalist, he also believed in white superiority and bankrolled research into eugenics, a pseudo-science popular in the 1920s and 1930s that called for breeding "worthy" humans and sterilizing the "socially unfit."

Leidesdorff Ranch appeared to be the early front-runner after the group that pushed for the change endorsed naming the park after William Alexander Leidesdorff. Leidesdorff was of Danish and Afro-Cuban heritage and owned thousands of acres of farmland near the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers.

"He just seems to embody the ideal we're trying to lift up," Austin Aslan, a community organizer with Sacramento Area Congregations Together, said in an earlier interview. "The park should be named after someone like him instead of a person like Goethe."

But online voters didn't seem to back going from one hard-to-say name to another.

With 18.5 percent, Leidesdorff Ranch received the fewest votes among the five names suggested by county officials. River Bend received the most support, 42.5 percent of 870 respondents.

Gonzales said he's a fan of the public process. "It's the people park. I'm a big fan of community involvement," he said.