Terry Seamens follows his principles, even when they lead him onto a limb, even when the limb is dead, even when the rest of the city council is trying to saw that limb off.
They were sawing like crazy when councilmember Seamens tried to bring up objections to naming the renovated, multi-use municipal building the “Takoma Park Community Center Sam Abbott Citizens Center” during a discussion of new signage for it. The name, he said, was a mouthful, cumbersome, and is frequently and differently truncated by staff and the public, causing confusion. The “Sam Abbott
Citizens Center” part is usually left out, an insult, he said, to former mayor and activist Sam Abbott for whom the old Municipal Building was named a decade or so ago.
The council, mayor, and staff clearly did not want to deal with this issue, talking over one another in their haste to point out that the name had been officially discussed and established last year. Seamens said he was aware of that, but he continues to feel that the name is a problem.
Your Gilbert railed against this long, redundant, awkward name back in January, 2006 to no avail.
As we wrote back then on Jan. 23, 2006 the city council “approved of ‘Takoma Park Community Center Sam Abbott Citizens Center’ as the official name of the commingled building, though they granted that the staff may refer to it as the ‘Takoma Park Community Center’ for short.”
Bruce Williams, so far the only candidate for city mayor in the upcoming election, dismissed Seamens’ concerns by breezily saying he personally refers to the building only as “city hall.”
Your Gilbert wrinkles his face in chagrin – not an attractive sight. If the politicians and staff routinely shorten the name, or use a different name because the official name is too unwieldly, why give it the unwieldly name in the first place? We can think of colorful scatological metaphors for the situation, but we’ll spare our more delicate Dear Readers. This time.
Seamens found himself on another limb during the second signage discussion that evening. These signs were the Gateway and identification signs the city will be placing around the city. Seamens objected strenuously to the cost to the taxpayers (around $1000 a sign) and to what he called the change in objective. The original intent of the signs, he said, was to direct traffic to local businesses, but that aspect has nearly disappeared. Some signs indicate the city entrances, others identify the city and neighborhood, and some mark the historical district. There are also a few sidewalk kiosks for pedestrians that provide information such as directions to local businesses.
This did not satisfy Seamens expectation of what the signs were meant to do, and he opined that city merchants will be disappointed in the results.
Fancy signs and the diminishment of Sam Abbott’s legacy – in Gilbert’s mind these and other things add up to a worrisome trend in this election year. More on this later, Dear Readers, we don’t want to wear you out!