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Parks and recreation commission approve walkway renaming to honor Indian Americans

POSTED October 10, 2013 10:40 p.m.

In an effort to honor the Indian American population in Turlock, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to name an existing path “Singh Walkway” to commemorate their contributions to Turlock.

While the vote is only a recommendation to the City Council, who will have the ultimate say on the matter, members of the commission viewed the decision as a positive step in honoring those who have added to the well-being of the community.

“The Indian American population has made a significant contribution to the City,” said Commissioner Brent Bohlender. “I believe that their contributions meet the standard of those honored for contributing to our city.”

The decision came after Dr. Ram Saini, a Turlock resident and member of the Indian American community, approached city staff with a request to have a city facility named with the “Singh” surname – a popular last and middle name of many Indian Americans.

After considering multiple locations and reviewing city policies and practices, city staff opted to recommend the city’s northeast storm basin walkway as the most feasible option.

Commissioner Jeremy Rocha expressed some concern as to whether or not the Indian American population had made a significant enough contribution to Turlock to have a city owned walkway named in their recognition.

“If we’re going to go with the standard of how we have named other facilities, then I don’t know if this is to the standard of other past contributions that would warrant the honor of a sign,” said Rocha. “I’m not discrediting what the Indian population has contributed to the city, but just asking how it compares to other facilities that we have renamed in the past.”

Rocha mentioned previous projects such as the renaming of the Marty Yerby Center and the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park as being examples of times when the person being recognized had made a clear contribution to the city. Other commissioners disagreed, however, saying that the Indian American population had made a very clear and significant contribution to the community.

“I certainly think this rises to the honor of renaming the walkway,” said Commission Chair Barney Gordon. “They have certainly added to the cultural diversity in Turlock, as well as economically.”

Dr. Ram Saini, who also currently serves on the Mayor’s Economic Development Task Force, said that Turlock’s Indian American population is proud to contribute to the community and call Turlock their home.

“Our population is increasing day by day,” said Saini. “We contribute to the economy of this area, and we’re proud of that. We love this town, and we would like the city to take a step in our recognition.”

According to Parks and Recreation Division Manager Allison Van Guilder, the city will not spend any funds on this project as Dr. Saini has committed to raise the estimated cost of $5,500 to purchase the new sign to be placed at the walkway.

The City Council is expected to make a final decision on the matter in the near future.

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