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Residents divided over effort to rename Woodlawn Lake Park tennis courts

Wife of former councilman Joe Alderete wants courts named for her husband

A public hearing will be held Wednesday on the issue of renaming the tennis courts at Woodlawn Lake Park in honor of former District 7 City Councilman Joe Alderete.
A public hearing will be held Wednesday on the issue of renaming the tennis courts at Woodlawn Lake Park in honor of former District 7 City Councilman Joe Alderete.

A public hearing will be held Wednesday on the issue of renaming the tennis courts at Woodlawn Lake Park in honor of former District 7 City Councilman Joe Alderete.

Alderete's wife, Chris, said her husband's role in transforming the park in the 1970s should be commemorated.

Joe Alderete has hosted tennis camps at the park for more than a decade, which is why Chris wants to name the tennis courts after him.

"I believe the tennis courts need to be named for him as a legacy for his work in the community," she said. "The naming of different parks, the naming of different things in our city, you know, that's what makes a city unique and this is a small part of the history of our community."

The gesture has drawn sharp criticism from District 7 residents, who do not believe such an honor should be given to someone who is still alive.

Woodlawn Lake Community Association President Alejandro Soto said the park and its place in the community is bigger than Alderete's political career.

"We have the tennis courts now. Next somebody will want the gym, the pool, or the lake, or the lighthouse, or one of those other things," he said. "I just don't want to get into that with this park."

Soto also questioned Alderete's character.

He was indicted in 1985 after being accused of pocketing donation money meant for a local youth group. He was ultimately acquitted, but Soto said he does not want that dark cloud hanging over the park.

"In a sense I think it just cheapens the atmosphere when you start naming it for different people. Especially when there's unanswered questions concerning character," he said.

District 7 Councilman Cris Medina has not stated his position on the issue, but he said Chris Alderete has not received any special treatment from his office in their effort to get the courts named in Joe Alderete's honor.

"This is a public process similar to a zoning case. We have a formal process that citizens can come and voice their concerns in support or against and that's where we're at," he said. "I think injecting personal (attacks), injecting hearsay about certain things, that muddies the process and that's where people become disengaged," he said.

The public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Woodlawn Lake Park gym's WiFi room at 219 Alexander Avenue.