The name's the thing

Seattle Parks and Recreation wants to come up with the perfect name for a new Magnolia park, and the public can make suggestions.

That's a relief, because I have a few ideas of my own about a perfect name for what used to be the Magnolia Elementary School playground. Actually, my Thomas Guide already labels the expanse of cracked asphalt as the East Magnolia Playfield.

But that's waaay too dull, given the less-than-thrilled and whiney reaction many nearby residents have had to the green-space windfall. However, Parks doesn't want people to pick a name willy-nilly, no matter how upset they are. Nope, there are some ground rules we have to follow.

I'll try.

One of the criteria is we can't name the place after dead people unless they've been dead for at least three years and made a major contribution to the parks system. With the name of Ursula Judkins - late citizen activist par excellence - already taken for another Magnolia park, that seems unlikely in this case.

Still, if that criterion were expanded to include concepts, there could be other possibilities. Based on the seeming demise of good manners at public meetings these days, how about Incivility Commons?

Nah, that's too much of a stretch - at least as far as the commons part goes. A commons is a refined East Coast model for a public gathering place where everyone is welcome - a concept not universally embraced in a lot of Seattle neighborhoods.

Two other naming criteria, natural and geological features, won't work since there are none. Geographical location might fit. We could keep "East Magnolia Playfield," for instance, and thus avoid upsetting all those people who will be deeply unhappy if their choice isn't picked.

Outside of all the pricey homes in the neighborhood, the only other thing that makes the area geographically significant is its popularity as a place to watch Fourth of July fireworks. So maybe Ivar's Recreational Area might be suitable.

Come to think of it, that brings up another possibility: sponsorship names. It would give Parks an opportunity to make some money - the real motive behind opening the new park, according to at least one conspiracy theorist in Magnolia.

We already have Safeco Field and Key Arena, so those companies are out of the running. But what about Starbucks Playground? The park could become informally known as Jitters Hill, a name that would reflect the mood of neighbors nervous at the idea of all those outsiders coming in and parking up the streets - or worse.

The last two cri-teria in the name game are historical or cul-tural significance. The first is out; the school might be historical, but it would be push-ing it to say that about an old playground.

That leaves culturally significant, which I think is spot on for a naming criterion. After all, having a new park in the area represents a major cultural shift for a lot of local residents.

It's understandable. They've pretty much had the place to themselves for all these years, and many don't welcome the prospect of change in whatever form it takes.

So how about NIMBY Playfield? It's got a ring to it, don't you think?

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