Sacramento votes to name park after chair designer instead of family of developer Petrovich

Update: The Sacramento City Council voted Tuesday to approve “Ray Eames Park” as the selected park name.

Original story:

The Sacramento City Council is set to name a park in the Crocker Village neighborhood after the late designer Ray Eames, rejecting a request from project developer Paul Petrovich for the park to bear his family name.

Born in Sacramento in 1912, Eames and her husband and partner designed mid-century modern furniture, most famously chairs, said Amanda Meeker, executive director of the California Museum, which held an Eames exhibit a few years ago. The pair designed the Eames Chair, a leather and wood reclining chair and ottoman, as well as the tandem chairs seen in many airports and stackable childrens’ chairs. The duo were also well known in the fields of photography, architecture, toys and film. They wrote and directed the 1968 short documentary “Powers of 10.”

“Ray’s work is known and loved the world over,” Meeker told the city’s Parks and Community Enrichment Commission last month. “Switzerland named a street after her. Yet she herself in the U.S. remains largely unknown. We can start to change that by naming this park for her. No Sacramentan deserves it more.”

The park will be located inside the 72-acre development just north of Sutterville Road and west of the Curtis Park neighborhood. The park will feature a playground, picnic area, shade structure, turf area, a three-acre open space for field play, and lots of trees, a city staff report said.

After an April meeting, the city was planning to move forward with the Petrovich name, but then received more name suggestions from the community and decided to open it up for suggestions from the public, city staffer Raymond Costantino told the parks commission. The public suggested 16 names, voted online, and narrowed it down to three: Petrovich Family Park; Donald Irving Rivett Park; and Ray Eames Park.

Donald Irving Rivett was a fourth generation Sacramentan who was involved in numerous local historical groups, and former supervisor of the Sacramento County Parks Department, a city document said.

After hearing testimony for all three, the parks commission voted last month to recommend Ray Eames Park 10-1.

Petrovich originally wanted to name the park after his father, a World War II veteran, but staff advised him to change it to Petrovich Family Park to follow the city’s rules for naming parks, he said. He also raised issues with the city’s method for surveying and vote counting, he said.

”I’ve developed a lot in Sacramento, 63 projects, and I never named anything after the family,” Petrovich told the parks commission last month. “This project ended up consuming half our professional career and we’ve invested nearly two decades of our life, nearly $50 million of our own money. We do not have any partners and we took on this project for the betterment of the region.”

Petrovich is involved in several lawsuits with the city.

Petrovich in 2016 sued the city after the City Council denied him a permit to open a gas station at Crocker Village. He also sued the city over a 2015 text sent from then-City Manager John Shirey to Councilman Jay Schenirer.

Schenirer is recusing himself from Tuesday’s vote because of the lawsuits, he said.

Most Crocker Village homeowners favored the Petrovich name over the other choices, said Mike Pine of BlackPine Communities.

The council can choose any name it wants, as long as it follows the city’s naming requirements, said city planner Cheryle Hodge.

The city recently renamed a Meadowview Park after actor LeVar Burton, and renamed a downtown park after late developer Ali Youssefi.

The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall’s council chambers.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.