BUFFER PARK — “Cookies and Cupcake” has a nice ring to it. It rolls off the tongue easier than “Too Damn Close to the Sidewalk Park” or “Too Close to the Building Park.”
The community submitted 135 name suggestions (including those three) for the city’s newest park, which is currently going by the place-holder “Buffer Park.”
Taken collectively, the suggested names for the park — which is meant to shield neighbors from the incoming Expo Light Rail’s maintenance yard — seems to encapsulate the diversity of Santa Monica personalities.
The name “Toypurina Park” was submitted 16 times during the month of October, when City Hall asked for help from the public.
“Exposition Park” (or variations on that theme) was submitted nine times.
Six people submitted “George Ishihara Memorial Park”.
Toypurina, according to city officials, citing Wikipedia, was a Tongva/Gabrielino Native American medicine woman who opposed the colonization by Spanish missionaries and led a failed rebellion against them.
City officials recommend against the name “Exposition Park” (which references Exposition Boulevard where the park will be built) because Los Angeles already has a well-known park of the same name.
George Ishihara was, according to city officials, a longtime Santa Monica resident who died at 88-years-old in 2009. Ishihara, a Japanese American who served in the army during World War II, moved to the Pico Neighborhood in 1958.
“Santa Monica Park” got five submissions and “People’s Park” got four.
“Hachi Park,” which refers to a loyal Japanese dog, “Nisei Park,” which refers to second generation Japanese Americans, and “Vida Park,” with “vida” meaning “life” in Spanish, each got three votes.
The Recreation and Parks Commission was scheduled to discuss the names on Thursday night and City Council will make the final decision on the name for the 2.35-acre park. Construction of the park, which will run in a long, thin strip from Stewart Street to Dorchester Avenue, is expected to start next summer.
Other suggested names fall into a wide range of categories.
There are the politician’s names, like “O’conner Park” (sic), presumably a reference to Mayor Pam O’Connor and “Oscar de la Torre Park” — de la Torre is a Board of Education member and one of the most visible members of the Pico Neighborhood.
There are the very literal suggestions, like “Quarter Mile Park,” which got two votes and “Green Strip Park”.
There are a handful of tongue-in-cheek names, like “Hobo Junction East,” “Barrio Park” and the aforementioned “Too Close” suggestions.
There are the peace-related suggestions: “The Peace Gardens,” “Peace Park,” “The Peace Square”. And the New Agey: “Eden,” “New Life Park,” and “Walking Together Park.”
And then there’s the weird: “Cookies and Cupcake” got two votes. “Encounter Park” invokes images of an alien landing strip. Someone suggested, simply, the vague and enigmatic “Thickest”.
The naming of Tongva Park, the city’s most recently completed park, was not without its dissenters. Many in the community favored the name, which honors the indigenous people of the Los Angeles area. Members of the Kizh Nation spoke at the council meetings, claiming that the name doesn’t accurately describe all of the different tribes living in the area.
The name was approved in a 4 to 1 vote, with outgoing City Councilmember Bob Holbrook dissenting.