A screenshot from the Feb. 21 Indio City Council meeting taken from a YouTube livestream.
The Indio City Council last week halted discussion over the possibility of naming a street or other public park or facility after Martin Luther King Jr. citing city policy. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The Indio City Council last week put a pin in a discussion over the possibility of naming a street, park or other public facility after Martin Luther King Jr. citing the city’s existing public facilities naming policy.

“We do have a public facilities naming policy, and it’s been shared with all of the council members in the past,” Mayor Lupe Ramos Amith said at the Feb. 21 meeting. “So, from my perspective, we follow the policy until we change it as a body. So, coming from that point, we wouldn’t even have this discussion, because we would follow the policy.”

The discussion was initially brought to the board by City Manager Bryan Montgomery who said changing the name of a street was a very complicated process, making naming parks or facilities a much lighter lift if the council wanted to move forward in this direction.

“We do have this beautiful new sports complex that’s out to bid now and will soon start construction, that’s an idea,” he said. “We have the new library, there may be other facilities like parks that have a street name, but not necessarily a more meaningful name.”

Montgomery, in introducing the item, asked that the council delay further discussion on the item until Councilmember Waymond Fermon was in attendance, because he specifically wanted to be involved in the discussion.

However, Ramos Amith said she didn’t feel it was right to have a discussion about it at all unless it was part of a larger conversation about changing the city’s existing policy.

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“There’s criteria that has to be met, because, you know, historically, over the past 100 years, there have been many people that have contributed to the city of Indio’s growth, development, whatever you want to talk about, you know, significant residents that we’ve had,” she said. “I don’t know that Mr. King has ever been in the city of Indio, but that’s why we have a policy to make sure that we memorialize those that have contributed to our community, and don’t forget maybe some that should be recognized.”

Mayor Pro Tem Glenn Miller asked that Montgomery send the city’s policy back out to all council members ahead of future conversation about the suggestion.

“If it’s got to go through the process, we really do need to follow the process,” he said. “Not that I’m against naming anything after Martin Luther King — he did great work for our community and continues to have an impact on our lives throughout the nation — but at the same time, if we have a policy that says it’s got to go to the commission then it should go the commission first and then work its way back up.”

Montgomery said he would do that, though he felt that King would be eligible under the city’s existing policy due to his impact, even though his impact was not specific to Indio.

“The policy seems to give preference to those that may have lived here locally that have passed on,” he said. “He’s passed on and had, you know, global impact, so that maybe splitting the hair there whether he would be eligible or not, but I assume, pursuant to the policy, my interpretation would be he would be, but that’s up to you guys.”

Ramos Amith said the policy was initially established so the city would have a list of historical figures to consider when there was a facility that the city wanted to name to have a “more historical and methodical and thought out process to make sure that we don’t leave anyone out.”

In the end, Montgomery said he would bring up the item for discussion again at a future meeting when the full council was present and after they had received a copy of the city’s current policy.

A full recording of the meeting can be found here on the city’s YouTube channel.

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