Former Mayor John Lazar’s legacy of service to Turlock is set to be memorialized by naming a forthcoming park after him, pending City Council approval.
The Council will consider naming a new park in the Legends 3 subdivision after Lazar at a future meeting following the Parks, Arts & Recreation Commission’s unanimous recommendation of the item at their monthly meeting on Wednesday. The subdivision is currently under construction along the northern half of Colorado Avenue, and its new park would join several others named after Turlock mayors, like Brad Bates Park, Curt Andre Park, Dale Pinkney Park and more.
Vice Mayor Pam Franco presented the suggestion to the Parks Commission, although it was Mayor Amy Bublak who nominated Lazar. Franco, who has known Lazar for nearly 30 years, said the honor is “well-deserved.”
“In fact, I believe it is the City’s honor to name this park after him,” Franco said.
Lazar served two terms as Turlock’s mayor from 2006 to 2014. He also served on the City Council from 1992 to 2006 and was Vice Mayor in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He was born and raised in Turlock, attending Keyes Elementary School, Brown Junior High School, Turlock High School and Stanislaus State.
During his service to the City, Lazar served as Turlock’s representative on the Stanislaus County Local Agency Formation Commission from 2000 to 2006 and was its chairman in 2003. He also served on the Stanislaus County Council of Governments and was appointed by California Governor Gray Davis to the California State Mandates Commission. Lazar also worked for numerous state and federal legislators prior to his work with the City.
Lazar still lives in Turlock with his wife, Nellie, and their three sons, and is employed as a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker Endsley and Associates of Turlock.
Included in Bublak’s nomination form were letters from Turlock community members Jeani Ferrari, Mike Lynch and Sam David, who all advocated for the park to be named after Lazar. David wrote that in addition to the park being named after Lazar, the City should also consider dedicating a bench at the park to the late Bob Endsley, who worked side by side with Lazar as leaders in the real estate industry.
“As a former Mayor, Councilperson and representative of our city, John Lazar was recognized as a person who was fair minded and positive: he understood the art of compromise while working to achieve goals important to the citizens of Turlock,” Ferrari wrote. “...How perfect is it for John to be honored at a community park where users with divergent backgrounds and philosophies come together to enjoy the best that Turlock has to offer — this is especially meaningful for John Lazar to be honored at this venue!”
Lynch wrote that the new park, which he believes will be a “treasure for our city,” needs a name that “instantly conveys respect and friendship” — especially during these politically-turbulent times.
“John Lazar is one of those rare people who can maintain the respect and even affection of people on opposite sides of issues,” Lynch said. “He is smart, committed, professional and personable. That is why he was successful in his elected office career.”
“I’m fully supportive; I think John Lazar has been an incredible member of the community for many, many years and has more than paid his dues for naming rights,” said Parks Commissioner Keristofer Seryani.