Curry proposes changing park name

Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry wants to rename Bonita Canyon Sports Park after Ronald Reagan.

Mindful that February will mark the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth, Curry proposed at Tuesday's City Council meeting that the park's signs be replaced and named after the late president, California governor and Republican hero.

City taxpayer money wouldn't be spent on this project, according to the mayor's proposal.

Curry appealed to the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission to move to rename the park at 1990 Ford Road as part of the centennial celebration.

"I think this an appropriate way to recognize one of the great American leaders of the 21st century," Curry told the Daily Pilot.

In his proposal, Curry said that "Ronald Reagan is well-known and beloved by many citizens of Newport Beach."

During Reagan's presidency, from 1981 to 1989, Curry served for five years as an assistant to the head of the Federal Transit Administration.

In his statement, Curry also recommended the creation of a Ronald Reagan Commission, which would raise private funds for the park's renaming, instead of earmarking taxpayer dollars for it.

And although the signage will be paid for privately, Curry insisted that his proposal is not politically driven.

"This is not a partisan proposal; indeed, Reagan has become post-partisan, recognized by all Americans as a truly historic president," Curry, a Republican in a non-partisan office, said in a statement.

However, Suzanne Savary, president of the Newport Beach Women's Democratic Club, disagreed. She said the idea upsets her because Newport Beach is a city with myriad political beliefs.

"I think that (Newport Beach Democrats) would be offended by such a designation, since we do not share his admiration for Ronald Reagan or the damage that he did to California," Savary said.

Savary cited voter registration numbers from January, which show that although Republicans form a majority in Newport Beach, with 34,734 registered GOP voters, there are 11,725 Independents and 13,682 registered Democrats.

"You're looking at a sizeable group that should be polled before honoring a Republican president in that way," she said.

The Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission may make a recommendation at its Nov. 2 meeting. Then it will be up to the City Council to vote on Curry's proposal.

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