Waxahachie considering policy for naming facilities

Chris Roark
Waxahachie Daily Light

While the naming of city facilities in Waxahachie doesn’t come up very often, there will soon be a policy in place for when it does.

At last week’s work session, Councilman Travis Smith brought up the idea of creating a policy since the city doesn’t have one.

Waxahachie City Hall

“I feel like if we make any decisions on behalf of the citizens that we have something to point back to and say 'this is why we did this,'” Smith said.

He pointed to Waxahachie ISD, which has a process that includes appointing a committee to explore options. Once a consensus is met, the committee presents the recommendation to the school board.

Smith said at the city level, the committee could be members of the community or the council itself.

WISD doesn’t limit its policy to the naming of buildings or structures or require that the person be living or not. Some of its criteria include someone who has made significant contributions to the district, public education or to his or her field or to society, as well as someone who has made significant contributions and given their time to the school board or been a distinguished district employee for at least 20 years.

The city staff plans to create a draft policy for the council to consider and possibly tweak at a future meeting. Smith said the draft could include some service parameters similar to what the school district uses.

Other council members supported the creation of a policy, but didn’t want there to be too many sets of criteria.

Mayor Pro Tem Billie Wallace said she wouldn’t favor a specific number of years the person served the community to be a requirement. As an example, Wallace said she would like to name a facility after Josh Williams, the Waxahachie police officer who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 2012.

“I don’t want to say they have to be here ‘X’ amount of years,” Wallace said. “What if we have someone who is here 10 years?”

Smith said he believes the policy should cover all city property, not just buildings.

Wallace and Councilwoman Melissa Olson said they don’t support naming buildings after people.

Council members said the policy needs to have a community involvement process, which includes posting a discussion on the matter on an agenda.

City Manager Michael Scott said there likely won’t be many facilities to be named since streets and, in most cases, parks are named by the developer of that project. But he said this process could apply to new parks in the future.

The next public facility to be constructed is the city hall annex and, as of now, that hasn’t been named after anyone.

Smith said his goal is just to get a set of guidelines in place.

“We don’t have anything in place right now,” he said. “It’s a ‘that’s the way it’s always been’ kind of thing, which has been great to get us to this point, but in this social media age … those questions are going to surface, and we have nothing to fall back on.”