There was no argument to be made Monday night that former Collierville mayor Linda Kerley should have her name attached to some portion of the soon-to-be renovated College Street gymnasium.
But rather than name a section of the future multiuse recreation and senior center after the town’s first female alderman and only female mayor, the Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to name the entire facility the Linda Kerley Center.
A recommendation was made last month at the Parks Advisory Board meeting to name the senior wing of the center after Kerley, who passed away in November 2013.
“Mayor Kerley was a strong advocate for senior citizens,” said Greg Clark, Parks, Recreation and Community Services, “consistently maintaining that Collierville should have recreational opportunities for residents of all ages.”
Residents Karen Ganote and Chris Huelsing expressed Monday night their desire to see the entire center named for Kerley.
“Linda is very deserving to have this named after her,” said Ganote, who served with Kerley on the Collierville Elementary School PTA.
Acknowledging that he was “not a particular fan” of the former mayor, Chuck Lesnick of the Park Advisory Board said he had been told that Kerley “contributed enormously to the Parks and Recreation programs.”
“If somebody is worthy of recognition for their accomplishments, regardless of personal feelings, they should be recognized,” he said. “We would be doing a disservice by just naming part of the building for her.
“Don’t carve up the whole building,” he continued. “Give it one name.”
Alderman Billy Patton said he would like to make the motion to name the center after Kerley but that he would defer to Alderman Maureen Fraser.
“I know that she was close with Linda Kerley,” he said.
“Linda’s the one who got me into this,” Fraser told the board.
Funds have been set aside to renovate the recreation center in the 2016-17 fiscal year and a dedication ceremony for Kerley could be set up by early 2017.
Kerley was elected as the town’s first female alderman in 1995 and was elected mayor in 1999. She served two terms and retired in 2008.
During her tenure, the town’s board voted for a 10 cent park improvement tax for park upgrades and facilities.
Built in 1961, the wooden “aircraft hangar style” gymnasium was acquired from Shelby County Schools in 2011.