Stapleton United Neighbors announced in a Zoom meeting on Aug. 1 that 63% of the final vote favored Central Park for the new name. This is the story of how that name came to be:
A call to the public for new name ideas brought in more than 300 options for Stapleton residents to consider. Community members, in a straw poll online, expressed their preferences from strongly agree to strongly disagree on all those possibilities. Individuals formed opinions of which names they thought should be on the final list—then found themselves surprised at the nine they saw on the ballot. “That is an asset, a good thing, not a defect,” says Geoff Horsfall, vice president of SUN, the registered neighborhood organization. “What a 36- or 37-year-old White guy would choose is not necessarily reflective of our whole community that we wanted to make sure was invited to the table. We were fully prepared for people to have their personal preferences on this name, but what the list reflects…is that those diverse perspectives were heard and represented.”
The two main entities that represent the neighborhood, Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN) and the Master Community Association (MCA), had tried, each under its own set of rules, to remove Stapleton from its name in the past two years. This year, in mid-June, the elected leaders of the two organizations agreed that the time was right to collaborate and act. “It became clear society was pushing the community forward regarding the name change,” says SUN board member Rick Leuthold.
The legal name of the community, the one in property titles, resides with the MCA. Though the MCA is primarily responsible for operations, its board has the authority to recommend a name change to the developer, which makes the final decision.
In mid-June, the 11 elected delegates to the MCA voted unanimously to support the SUN process for choosing a name. “We’ll take their name and run it through our process. That’s a commitment we made,” says MCA Board President Dana Elkind. “SUN’s process is excellent.” Elkind thinks if people are unhappy, it’s because they aren’t informed. “They need to do more research. It has been transparent. Everyone who wants to know the truth about how this is being done can find out.”
SUN suggested an advisory board of diverse stakeholders could whittle down the long list of submitted names through a collaborative process. SUN provided the straw poll data, community comments, and basic criteria for name ideas: they were to be aspirational/inspirational, business-friendly, unique, and suitable to the community at large. And a professional mediator through the City worked with the group.
“We had to reconcile the perspectives of different constituencies. Rather than majority rule, we sought to have consensus,” says Vince Bowen, the Black Lives Matter representative to the board. “We had diverse opinions about the names and good rigorous discussions to come to names that capture objectives we think are good.”
As an example of the collaborative process, Bowen said Black Lives Matter’s choice was Justina Ford, a doctor who served people of all backgrounds—and a woman, in recognition that Black women have been erased in large parts of our history. But in the straw poll, another Black leader, John Mosley, received a higher level of interest, so that name made the final list instead.
Both Bowen and Leuthold spoke to the value of the professional mediator. “Through education and discussion, we were able to understand why some names were more important than others,” says Leuthold.
The advisory group agreed on nine names that were put out for community-wide online voting in early July. Over a series of three votes, the names were reduced to the final two, Central Park and Skyview, with the winner announced August 1 on SUN’s website, StapletonUnitedNeighbors.com. SUN’s bylaws require the submission of a petition to change the organization’s name, then the name change needs to be voted on at a community meeting (see page 12 for more info).