Letter to the Editor: On Naming Los Alamos County Public Facilities

By Joel M. Williams
Los Alamos

Los Alamos County is unique in also being a municipality. “In the United States, a ‘municipality’is usually understood as a city, town, village.”

Los Alamos County Municipal Building and Los Alamos County Town Hall are names that convey this uniqueness.
Los Alamos Citizens’ Building and Los Alamos Community Town Hall are good in that they convey citizenry and community. We already have a Los Alamos Community Building. The County Council is the governing body, however, and County includes both WR and Townsite. Town Hall is good because it conveys more than “building.”

In the matter of naming public properties for individuals, being “recently deceased” should not be a factor in considering a person over others who are at least as deserving.

If a person deserves such recognition, then he/she would be just as deserving a decade later without death (natural, accidental, or otherwise) being a factor.
How many of those already honored would receive that honor if the request was made today? Most? I doubt that all would be. Requiring “a waiting period of 10 years for emotions to settle after a death” seems like a logical Q to put to the public on a ballot, if the council does not, of its own volition, choose to make it a requirement.
I suggest that the code state that any dedication to an individual will last no more than a decade without reaffirmation.

The naming of public facilities is not a trivial matter. Those dedicated to individuals should be proudly set forth as a collection. At the moment, much of the naming information for all those facilities that have been dedicated to someone’s memory is rather haphazard; most unavailable on the web, and what is available is NOT in a readily searchable, singular, place.

I have not even found a simple listing of ALL of the facilities that have ever been dedicated. The council should see to it that a publicly accessible file is available on the County’s website with a 250-word bio, pertinent dates, and the reason why the County Council’s dedication of one of its facilities to an individual’s memory was warranted.
There should be a listing of a requested, but not conferred, naming, too, as these are people whom some consider worthy. All of this fully documented information should also be in the Los Alamos Historical Society Archives as the ultimate repository.

Below is what I can find on the web with lots of holes! Practically nothing about most of the honorees – best if the honoree has been cited as a “living treasure” – of course, many of the honorees were honored quickly after death and “living treasure recognition” was not begun until 1999.

No one should have to look in more than a single place to get all of this and the associated relevant information. I have undoubtedly overlooked some – then, again, I’m not the County’s chronicler-historian.

Date dedicated listed first – most not found on the Internet. LAPS/UNM/AEC(?) (LANL dedicated buildings are not included, except Bradbury Science Museum, which was relocated; Anderson Memorial Overlook is in Santa Fe County; two presidents are listed, but I have added none of the vise presidents who have visited.)

  • Sullivan Field (Earle D. Sullivan, Director for Community Relationships at LASL from 1947 until he died in 1951 after suffering a heart attack)
  • Griffith Gym (Thurston (“Turk”) A Griffith, Jr. 1940-1965) – Griffith Hall at Fort Gordon Garrison in Augusta, Ga., in the late 1960s, was named after Griffith (most recent posting in The SF New Mexican – Jan. 14, 2012) – Purple Heart and Bronze Star
  • 1964 The John F. Kennedy Memorial at Los Alamos High School (County?)
  • Duane W Smith Auditorium (superintendent of LAPS for 16 years; 1931-1979)
  • Louie Cernicek Memorial Soccer Tournament, but no physical entity (Also is David “Louie” Cernicek 1924-2001) a Los Alamos “living-treasure”; no soccer field named for him – brought soccer and soccer-fame to Los Alamos
  • 2013 Jeannette O. Wallace (1934-2011) Lecture Hall at UNM-Los Alamos
  • Ashley Pond Park (Ashley Pond, the founder of the boys’ school in 1917)

LAC/AEC/DOE (LANL dedicated buildings are not included, except Bradbury Science Museum, which was relocated; Anderson Memorial Overlook is in Santa Fe County; two presidents are listed, but I have added none of the VPs who have visited.)

Editor’s note: Visit the County’s Open Forum for more information on this issue:http://www.losalamosnm.us/gov/Pages/PublicCommentForum.aspx#peak_democracy


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