Naming that Square…

A  new page will be appearing on the City of Wausau’s website tomorrow that will give people the opportunity to offer potential names for the 400 Block, which is now a frozen construction site.  My guess is that a lot of people will suggest that it continue to be called “The 400 Block” — but that doesn’t make it the best idea.  History is filled with examples of people getting together in loud majorities to make the wrong decision by majority rule.  (I mean, Hitler was elected, you know?)

Add to that our long-time community challenge of trying to name things.  The Woodchucks play at “Athletic Park” and our hockey teams play in buildings named to honor “multi-purpose.”  (Hey, it’s not just us.  “Central Park” and “Public School No. 212” aren’t exactly tributes to creativity, either.) 

Anyway, I’m thinking I’d like to put my two cents worth in for people that have already put in tens of millions and who continue to do it today.  My suggestion is that we instead hold a naming nomination process for the little park on the corner of Pied Piper Lane and Lakeview Drive on Wausau’s southeast side by the Wausau Downtown Airport.  (Never mind that the airport is not downtown and that the park is not “Airport Park” because the park with that name is further down the street.)

The reason to rename the little park, which is Alexander Park, is to take that name for the square.  Here’s why:

1.  Alexander Square has a nice ring to it.  It makes you want to know more — and by golly, you should.  Google maps already thinks that the 400 Block is Washington Square and you can go check that for yourself.  That has a nice ring to it, too — but any town could have a Washington Square and in our case, we already do.  It’s a building complex.

But most importantly…

2.  The Alexander Foundation(s) in Wausau have and continue to provide for truly remarkable things in our city.  This incredible resource has quietly provided many millions of dollars for projects in our community for decades.  (I didn’t count up what they have into the square and they may even be acting anonymously, but I’d be willing to bet that foundation is significantly involved without even bothering to check.)  The mission of the Judd S. Alexander Foundation, for example, includes funding only things that directly benefit the citizens of Marathon County. 

The Alexanders were involved in building some of the area’s most important industries and also with working to diversify the regional economy from heavy dependence on the lumber industry, as important as forest products continue to be in our neck of the woods.  Being a good Scotsman, Walter Alexander didn’t spend all of his money and neither did his sons.  Worthy community efforts large and small have had a friend in the Alexander Foundation(s) over the years.  They’ve made things happen that would have been very difficult or impossible without them.  More times than most people realize, they’ve represented a lot of the “private” in public-private partnerships in Wausau. 

It’s been a fairly quiet operation, in comparison to the tremendous influence for good that they have brought to bear in Wausau.  We owe the Alexander family a huge debt of gratitude because we couldn’t be what we are today without what they did to help our community move forward so many years ago.  We ought to give just a little of the recognition that their awesome gesture deserves by placing their family name on a prominent feature in the center of the city that they have had so much a part of building in so many ways.  In doing so, we would also be honoring their noble ideal of giving something back to the community, which is exactly what they’ve done in spades for decades, while also providing an invaluable and sustainable means to accomplish even more in the future.  It should be Alexander Square.



7 Responses to “Naming that Square…”

  1. I think Google fixed it, but now Washington Square is nowhere to be found.

  2. fred tealey Says:

    I’ll never forget when the new middle school on the east side was being constructed, a committee was formed to come up with a name. This committee spent hours and hours, receiving feedback from hundreds of local citizens as to the name of the new school. They finally came up with Eleanor Roosevelt. this was a great name for a number of reasons, but perhaps foremost reason is that no wausau school is named after a woman. Well, the beloved wausau school board nixed this name, and I think it was under the direction of Fred Phrehn insisted that it be named Horace Mann. Always felt that was so authoritarian on Prehn’s part, with total arrogance and disregard for these fine people who worked so hard.

  3. However, you do have to admit that no matter what the “official” name is, there are many who will still call it the 400 Block (just like there are many who call the big ball park in San Fran candlestick park… just like alot of us call county highway JJ “old 29″… just like a lot of people still refer to our local newspaper as the Record Herald

    I guess in the end, I really dont care what it is called.. because to me it already has a recognizable name.

    And.. no matter what the name ends up being… we will argue about the name and the process and the fairness… just like we still argue about that piece of land itself…

    But.. what fun is life without perpetual discontent, when it comes right down to it???

  4. Rebecca, type “Washington Square, Wausau” into the Google home page and you’ll see what I mean.

  5. Simplicity works for Central Park because it’s huge and in the middle of the biggest city in the country. Smaller places need to work harder to get their landmarks noticed.

  6. David B. Keeffe Says:

    I think it would be a shame to take the name given by the people, adopted by the people, and endeared by the people .. away from them.

    Personally, I don’t think anyone in the Alexander family would give a darn if it was named for Judd. Or are we naming it for the foundation?

    Let’s not dig deeper ‘into the box’ in this naming process. Let’s NOT memorialize dead people, no matter what or how important the contribution.

    Let’s memorialize the living dynamic that has brought us to this point in the development of this public park.

    Let’s allow the people to name using the grass roots effort that has made it what it is .. the “400Block”

    Let us memorialize the time and effort and people who went through heaven and hell (plenty of hell, no?) by taking the name already given.

  7. Adrian Rinehart-Balfe Says:

    Alexander Walk, the path between 3rd and 4th Streets makes “Alexander Square” redundant. The people call it the 400 Block and the people have paid for the renovation.

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