PLEASANTON -- A city park may soon be renamed in honor of former Mayor Ken Mercer, but the proposal is on hold for another month due to a paperwork error.
The name change got an enthusiastic reaction from parks and recreation commissioners at their April 10 meeting, but members will need to wait to vote because the agenda mistakenly listed the wrong park to be named in honor of the longtime mayor. Mercer died of cancer in January.
City council members had originally proposed the name change, but city policy says a person must be dead at least five years before a city facility can be named in his or her honor.
"I'm supportive of making an exception in this case for Ken because he was a remarkable man and an important figure in our city," commission member Joseph Streng said.
The meeting agenda mistakenly noted the Bernal Community Park might be renamed in honor of Mercer. In reality, the proposal calls for naming the Pleasanton Sports and Recreation Community Park for Mercer since he was instrumental in developing that facility.
The sports park is along Parkside Drive, just east of Hopyard Road. The 103-acre park features numerous sports fields and a paved walking trail around the park's perimeter. The five-member parks commission was unanimous in its support of making a one-time exception to name the sports park after Mercer.
"I'm in favor of retaining the five years, but I also am in favor of making an exception in this case," commission member Deborah Wahl said. "He truly brought so much to the city of Pleasanton. He was really an icon."
Mercer, 71, was elected to the City Council in 1976 and served as mayor from 1986 until 1992. He was Pleasanton's first elected mayor. Before that, the job rotated among city council members. During Mercer's time in office, the city attracted Stoneridge mall, the Hacienda Business Park and several residential developments.
"He was very passionate about Pleasanton," vice chair Brad Hottle said. "He was a good person. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to naming the park after him. It's the least we could do for everything he's done for the city."
Two of Mercer's longtime friends, Jan Batcheller and Brad Hirst, spoke in favor of the name change.
"I've known a lot of people in Pleasanton," Batcheller said. "Ken is head and shoulders above anybody else, by far. He is probably the most influential person in Pleasanton's history."
Hirst said he's passionate about the topic because Mercer was such a dear friend and strong leader.
"Ken was very instrumental in the completion of the sports and recreation park," Hirst noted. "Of all the things he accomplished and participated in, far and away his most cherished accomplishment was the completion of the sports park. It's part of his soul, and he is part of the sports park."
The five-year delay policy took effect in 2004. The commission will take formal action on the name-change proposal at its May 10 meeting. The commission's recommendation would then be forwarded to the City Council for final approval.