The Fort Worth Parks and Recreation Board is recommending a new name for a park named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The Jefferson Davis Park is the first name in Fort Worth with obvious ties to the Confederacy that is in the crosshairs of a renaming effort.
The board suggested changing the name to “United Park.” The suggested change came with little public comment, no vocal opposition and will move toward a city council vote faster than it would normally.
Leisley Cruz has grown up across the street from Jefferson Davis Park near Seminary and McCart on the south side of the city. She believes a name change makes sense.
"There's like different people here,” she said. “They're always playing around and like meeting new people."
City staff said they found no connection between Jefferson Davis and Fort Worth.
"The earliest city record that we can find is a 1930 plan where it first referred to the park as Jefferson Davis Park,” explained Parks Director Richard Zavala.
So the parks board decided unanimously to recommend the name “Parque Unidad/ Unity Park.” Instead of a 60-day public notice process, they'll push it through to the city council in 30 days.
The renaming is largely due to the online petition started by TCU Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Farris. In just a few weeks, it produced nearly 6,000 signatures.
"Fort Worth is recognizing, the parks department, the parks director are recognizing that this is part of a larger national conversation that has been already taking place,” Farris said.
The parks board did consider three other name possibilities including Patrick Zamarripa Park named after the Dallas officer and Fort Worth native who was killed in the Downtown Dallas ambush. His mother attended the meeting.
"It's a way for his legacy to continue for his daughter who will not get to know him,” said Valerie Zamarripa.
But a park policy established in the 1980s states a person must have made a significant contribution to the park area for it to be named after them. The suggested names did not meet the requirements for a park to bear their name.
The public has 30 days to comment before a final vote is taken.