Argyle Town Council chose this week to give the town’s park the name Unity Park, a possibly ironic choice considering the disharmonious way the name was ultimately chosen.
The park, located north of Argyle Intermediate School on Crawford Road, opened last spring but hadn’t been given an official name. It’s been casually referred to as Argyle Community Park and Unity Park, among others, but the town wanted to formally name it and give residents a voice in it, so this summer it sought name suggestions from residents online and then created an online survey for residents to vote for their favorite name. Of 540 votes cast, the top three vote-getters were Argyle Town Park with 158, Eagle Park with 136 and Unity Park with 96.
However, late in the voting process town staff learned that the Argyle Youth Sports Association — which uses the ball fields at the park — had already ordered custom scoreboard signs displaying the name Unity Park. The association believed that it was the park’s name — it gets invoices from the town calling it Unity Park — and spent more than $10,000 on the signs, said Town Manager Kristi Gilbert.
The issue came up during a Town Council meeting a couple weeks ago, and council considered just going with the name Unity Park because of the AYSA signs, while some members wanted to honor the residents’ most popular choice, Argyle Town Park. It was tabled so that Mayor Don Moser could meet with AYSA President William Strittmatter about the matter.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, the disagreement continued as Council Member Alex Vukasin pushed back on the idea of choosing the third-most popular name, even given the extenuating circumstances.
“I’m still extremely upset we’re in a situation where we solicited the town’s input, giving them full faith that we would accept their vote, and now we’re like, ‘Well, somebody spent some money,'” Vukasin said during the meeting. “I’m not trying to slam the AYSA. I love them, they’re great … but at the same time, if I went out and spent a lot of money on something without confirming the name of it, I’d get fired.
“The citizens voted for something and we’re literally pushing it aside and saying, ‘Your votes didn’t count.'”
Council Member Marla Hawkesworth downplayed the issue.
“It’s not a big deal,” Hawkesworth said in the meeting, directed at Vukasin. “I don’t think anybody’s going to fret over going to Unity Park because … it’s been that name for a while.”
The name Unity Park might also cause confusion for youth sports teams because a large park with ball fields in Highland Village already goes by the name Unity Park.
Vukasin chose to not vote when Hawkesworth recommended approving the name Unity Park. Council Members Cyndi Hermann and Jon Donahue voted with Hawkesworth, giving the park the official name of Unity Park. With a donation from BPS Jet, the town’s newest corporate sponsor, the town will be able to purchase a monument sign that reads Unity Park.
“It just makes me sick that we took votes and we’re not honoring them,” Vukasin said. “I understand that maybe we’re goning to have to suck this one up, but I’m going on the record that I don’t like this.”