The names of two Las Vegas parks just got a little longer.
Freedom Park now will be known as Gary Reese Freedom Park in honor of the former city councilman.
And Doolittle Park now will be known as the Kianga Isoke Palacio Park at Doolittle Complex in honor of a community activist who died in 2009.
The City Council voted 6-1 Wednesday in favor of adding Reese’s name to Freedom Park. Councilman Bob Beers voted against the change, saying he thought it was inappropriate to name city facilities after living people.
“I’ve consistently voted that way for a long time,” said Beers, a former legislator.
Freedom Park, 850 N. Mojave Road, was constructed in 1972 and named after all those who have served in the military.
Community members canvassed the neighborhood around the park and collected 1,500 signatures in favor of the name change. Reese spent 16 years on the City Council and served Ward 3, where the park is located.
Some fear that a living person could later do something to tarnish his name, but Councilman Stavros Anthony was not worried about having that problem with Reese.
“He is about as squeaky clean as anybody I’ve ever met,” Anthony said.
Former Councilman Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, spoke in favor of the name change. He said it was an honor to serve on the council with Reese, who never missed a meeting.
“He was never controversial,” McDonald added.
Activist Ed Uehling, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, urged the council to reject the name change. He said Reese was paid to do the work he did for Ward 3.
“These facilities should be named after private people – not after bureaucrats and politicians,” Uehling said.
Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian said she understood that Reese was doing his job when he worked for the people of Ward 3, but added, “Some people do their job over and above.”
The council voted unanimously to change the name of Doolittle Park, 951 W. Lake Mead Blvd. The park was constructed in 1965 and named after James Harold Doolittle Sr., an Air Force general and a pioneer of aviation.
Doolittle was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading the first carrier-based bomber attack on mainland Japan in 1942.
His family donated the land where the current center, senior center and park are located. The names of the community center and senior center were not changed.
Palacio, who died at the age of 41 after a three-year battle with breast cancer, was described as a respected and influential person in the community. She co-founded Sisters in Society Taking Action, a mentoring and rites-of-passage program for girls based out of the West Las Vegas Arts Center.
The City Council approved the renaming of another park at its April 4 meeting. Justice Myron E. Leavitt Family Park, 2100 E. St. Louis Ave., is now known as Justice Myron E. Leavitt and Jaycee Community Park.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710.