Who Thanks Themselves?
A Tall Tale About a Dog Park
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)
Those using the Mayor Lynn Spruill Dog Park may have noticed bricks with inscriptions on them installed in the park. The “sale” of these bricks is a common fundraising method, where “purchasers” don’t actually own the bricks, but are typically afforded the opportunity to inscribe a name on the brick. In fact, many years ago, Mayor Lynn Spruill, for whom the dog park is named and with whom I worked at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games, purchased a brick in my name in the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. It was a wonderful gesture and it made the Olympic Park even more special to me. So, I know firsthand that the brick thing can be a neat experience for all concerned.
All of which brings me to the issue at hand, which is the bricks being installed at the publicly-owned Mayor Lynn Spruill Dog Park. I’m guessing that the expectation was that the bricks would be inscribed with the names of beloved pets and/or their owners. And, for the most part, that’s what seems to be happening. But, as is too often the case in Addison, the group of negatives and naysayers is trying to take the experience in a different direction.
I speak, of course, of two bricks at the Spruill Dog Park that purport to “thank” Addison’s misguided ex-mayor, one of them even going so far as to thank him for the park. Amazingly enough, publicly available documentation obtained by Truth in Addison confirms that these two bricks were purchased by none other than the ex-mayor himself. That’s right, he purchased two bricks and inscribed them to thank himself. Who does that? And, acting on behalf of the Addison Legacy Foundation, the inscriptions were approved by the ex-mayor’s political ally, Blake Clemens, who the ex-mayor supported in his losing 2017 mayoral campaign.
Start here: the Spruill Dog Park is public property and it should not be subjected to political advertising or politically-motivated inscriptions. In fact, if the ex-mayor again becomes a candidate, then this would likely be considered a use of public resources (i.e., the park) for political advertising, which is prohibited by Title 15 of the Texas Election Code. But even if I’m wrong in my strong suspicion that this is yet another setup for a looming political campaign, it’s just plain wrong on many levels. After all, if the ex-mayor wants to thank himself, then there must also be room for other opinions about his misguided tenure as Addison’s mayor. I’ve written much about all that, and how we’re finally digging out from under all the issues and damage and toxicity. Maybe I should buy a brick or two and express my opinions . . . .
All of which makes my point. This is not a road we want to travel, nor should we tolerate anyone who tries to force us to travel it. So, if the Town’s naming policy isn’t clear that bricks installed in public places can’t be used for political purposes, then it needs to be amended immediately. And these two politically-motivated bricks need to be removed. Bricks are for names, in this case, dogs and people. That’s it.
And finally, there is also the point that many, many people were involved in conceptualizing, developing and constructing the very fine Lynn Spruill Dog Park, aptly named for an extraordinary woman and dog lover who we were fortunate to have as our mayor. Mayor Spruill was a great leader who brought out the best in those around her, encouraging them and regularly deflecting credit for achievements to them, exhibiting a brand of humility that is characteristic of all great leaders. Mayor Spruill would surely wish for recognition not for any one person in connection with the park bearing her name, but for the teamwork that made the vision a beautiful reality. Because that’s how great leaders lead.
I applaud those who made the Mayor Lynn Spruill Dog Park happen, and I urge the Council to ensure that this wonderful public park is not politicized, including by those who seek personal aggrandizement at the expense of others. I urge the Council to act swiftly and firmly on this issue.
And that will end all efforts to tell tall tales about the Mayor Lynn Spruill Dog Park.
The Addison Way is back! Let’s keep that momentum rolling in 2019!