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"No Hankins Park, for now"

"Rex Hankins hasn't been dead long enough.That's one of the reasons five city council members cited for denying a proposal to rename a small city park after the former councilman at the City Council meeting Tuesday night.In a somewhat heated 5-2 decision, the majority of councilors sided with the Park Board in denying the proposal based on a 1998 city council resolution that sets five criteria for park naming.Gene Coleman, the leader of the government watchdog group Taxpayers for Responsible Government, proposed that Flintstone Park be re-named after the controversial former councilman in a letter to Mayor Patty Cohen last September. Hankins succumbed to lung cancer last July.Rex was dedicated to the preservation of parks in our city, Coleman wrote. In fact, he was instrumental in having an ordinance passed to insure that no park lands in the city would be sold unless approved by a vote of the people.Tempers flared over the issue at a Park Board meeting last November. Brewer angrily lectured the board members after they decided against recommending the park rename, claiming that the decision was based on personal feelings about Hankins.Helen Chatfield-Weeks, the chairwoman of the Park Board, said that the proposal simply didn't meet any of the criteria. City Councilmen Paul Brewer and Danny Paggao disagreed, arguing that it meets two criteria.Namely, they said Hankins qualifies as a historical figure and as an individual who has contributed outstanding civic service to the city. Yet under the resolution, that individual must be deceased for a period of at least one year. Paggao said he might try to bring back the issue this summer, a year after Hankins' death.City Planner Tom Burdett suggested that another type of memorial could be made to Hankins in the city, but nothing has been specifically proposed yet.Under the resolution, a park can also be named after a neighborhood or geographical area; a natural or geological feature; or an individual who has made significant land and / or monetary contributions to the park system.You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611. "

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