By TAYLOR HARTZ
The Municipal Center will soon bear the name of former Town Manager John Weichsel, who served Southington from 1966 to 2011.
After voting 7-2 to waive the process for naming a town building as outlined in the Town Charter, the Town Council voted unanimously to name the building after the former town manager during a council meeting on July 11.
The suggestion came last month as a bipartisan effort from former Town Councilors Art Secondo (D) and Andy Meade (R). Town Attorney Mark Sciota confirmed that the town’s leasing of the building had no affect on its naming.
According to Chapter 59 of the Town Charter, the naming of a public building requires the formation of a committee that includes three Town Council members. The committee can then take suggestions for the naming from members of the community, which must pass with support from two-thirds of the council.
Councilors Ed Pocock III (R) and Cheryl Lounsbury (R) voted against waiving this process. Lounsbury said that while she supported honoring Weichsel, she “also support[ed] going through the process.”
“I believe that process matters,” added Pocock.
Lounsbury recalled that as town manager, Weichsel “went by the book” and that going through the process would honor his memory and give members of the public the opportunity to make suggestions and be involved in the decision, “So that it’s not just the council or a group of politicians doing this in isolation.”
As Chair of the Ordinance Committee, Lounsbury said she disagreed with putting in an ordinance, and then bypassing it, by skipping the outlined steps for naming.
Town Chairman Mike Riccio (R) said he supported bypassing the ordinance because “I believe that the ordinance was set up in a manner for this exact scenario to happen.”
Councilor John Barry (D) first passed on his vote, and then voted in favor of waiving the process. “This is a unique situation, a unique individual, a unique man who gave over four decades of service to the Town of Southington” said Barry.
With seven councilors voting in favor of waiving these provisions, the council was able to move forward and vote on the naming. The council unanimously supported naming the building for Weichsel.
“It gives me absolute pleasure to sit on this vote this evening” said Riccio, who said he recalled Weichsel, who died in 2013, as “very fair, and very neutral.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@SouthingtonObserver.com.