COLUMBIA — The City Council approved a resolution Monday night naming the 81.5-acre park near Oakland Middle School as Albert-Oakland Park and the park's pool as Albert-Oakland Aquatic Center.
The southernmost 20-acre portion of the park will still be called C.M. Albert Memorial Park. This tract was donated to the city by Paul A. and Marjorie Albert in 1964.
The park was referred to as Albert-Oakland Park until the late 1990s, when then- City Manager Ray Beck directed city staff to refer to it as Oakland Park.
Since July, Kurt Albert, Paul Albert's son, has conducted an extensive search through city records and has spoken before the council and the Parks and Recreation Commission urging the inclusion of the Albert name on the park.
In September, the Parks and Recreation Commission recommended by a 4 to 1 vote that the park be named Albert-Oakland Park. The one abstention was in favor of naming the park Albert Memorial Park.
The resolution approved by the City Council on Monday was drafted by Kurt Albert and included additional clauses about the park's history and the significance of the Alberts' original donation.
Mayor Darwin Hindman amended Kurt Albert's proposed resolution by removing several clauses he said passed judgment and were irrelevant to the park's naming. He also pointed out that the park's naming does not honor Paul Albert but rather his mother, Claire M. Albert.
Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala recommended that the pool also be included in the resolution but that shelters and other facilities on the park be left unnamed to allow for their naming in the future.
The substitute naming resolution was approved unanimously.
During public comment, Kurt Albert's wife, Patrice Albert, urged the council to approve the resolution drafted by her husband to "heal the gaping wounds inflicted upon our family."
Paul Albert's oldest daughter, Cedar Albert, also spoke in favor of naming the park to honor her mother's sacrifice in allowing the original donation when the family was having financial trouble.
"We are dirt poor, and it's OK because there is a park," Cedar Albert said she remembered thinking.
"It's just something to be really proud of."
Former state legislator George Parker spoke in support of restoring the Albert name to the park. He said Paul Albert's role as an ombudsman and questioner of the people in power should be recognized.
"We need more people that have the guts to ask questions that need to be asked," Parker said.