A proposal to rename Market Place Park in Belle Haven after Karl Clark, a longtime Belle Haven resident and World War II hero who died in March at age 100, received unanimous support from the city's Parks & Recreation Commission on Oct. 25.
A Navy veteran, Mr. Clark was awarded in 2012 a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his actions in saving the USS Aaron Ward, in 1945 by putting out many fires and rescuing shipmates after the ship was struck by kamikaze planes.
"I think it is a perfect place for his life to be remembered and his ideals discussed," Commissioner Christopher Harris said.
The single-acre park is located on Market Place at Hamilton Avenue, across from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula facility, in Belle Haven.
The name-change request was spearheaded by the Belle Haven Action group, which collected on a petition 115 signatures of people who live or work in Menlo Park, according to a member of the group, Julie Shanson. The city also received a letter from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, in favor of renaming the park.
"I was privileged to secure the honors due to Mr. Clark for his heroic service in World War II, honors he was deprived of for decades because of his race," she wrote to the commission chair in June. "I know Mr. Clark as a devoted public servant, a man committed to his community, making it stronger and our country better."
The idea to rename the park came from Cecilia Taylor, a Belle Haven resident who ran for the Menlo Park City Council in 2016.
Menlo Park's usual policy is not to name a public place for someone until at least five years after the person's death. But after hearing about 10 speakers share stories and talk about Mr. Clark during the meeting, the commission agreed that an exception should be made.
Though Mr. Clark has been referred to as Carl with a "C," he says in his autobiography that "when I joined the Navy my name was put in the records with a C, and no matter how hard I tried they would not change it back to the correct spelling. None of them thought it was important enough to correct, so I am stuck with it until this day." The city would use the "K" spelling.
The recommendation is expected to be brought before the City Council for a final decision on Nov. 14.
Mr. Clark spent "almost three-quarters of his life in our community," said Vicky Robledo, a supporter of renaming the park. She said it was exciting especially to see the older people in the community speaking in support of the matter. "I was proud of the turnout," she said.