Parks Commission Approves “Singh Walkway” Naming

David Fransen|

A walkway at a Turlock's northeast storm basin is one step closet to being named “Singh Walkway,” in honor of the city's Indian-American community.

The Turlock Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission unanimously voted to make the name official on Wednesday evening, after briefly discussing whether the naming was warranted.

The naming was recommended by Dr. Ram Saini, an Indian-American man who has lived in Turlock since 1971.

“We had the desire of kind of getting us recognized in this great town of Turlock,” Saini said. “Our population is increasing day-by-day.”

Saini noted the economic impact the Indian-American community makes in Turlock. And more and more Indian-Americans are likely to come here, he said, as the climate is similar to Punjab.

It's the link to Punjab, where Sikhism is the dominant religion, that inspired Saini to request the name “Singh Walkway.” Singh is a middle or last name used by nearly all Sikh men, and some Hindu communities as well.

Saini then met with Turlock staff for several months, discussing what location would work best for the city. After review, the meandering walkway in Turlock's grassy northeast storm basin on Christofferson Parkway simply made sense to name “Singh Walkway” according to Erik Schulze, Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Superintendent.

“It's a really nice location,” Schulze said. “In talking with Dr. Saini today, he was very comfortable with that, too.”

Initially, some Parks, Recreation, and Community Programs Commissioners expressed doubts about the renaming. Commissioner Jeremy Rocha wasn't sure it met the same standards used in past park namings, usually referencing elected officials, major donors, or those instrumental in making parks grow.

“To me, it seems like it doesn't meet the standard of some of those other examples,” Rocha said, noting he didn't intend to discount the Indian-American community's impact on Turlock. “… We need to have a high standard for naming public facilities.”

Longtime Parks, Recreation, and Community Programs Commissioner Brent Bohlender argued the Indian-American's contributions to Turlock are worth recognizing, especially considering it's a walkway that's being named – not a previously named park. The commission previously balked at renaming Centennial Park to “Swanson Park” in honor of a notable Turlock family.

Bohlender drew a parallel with Turlock's Joe Gallison Memorial Parkway, on Canal Drive, named in honor of the past-owner of The Greenery. That naming was driven by members of the community, without Gallison donating money or being elected.

“To me, this does meet the standard,” Bohlender said.

After some discussion, the Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission voted unanimously in favor of the renaming.

The renaming still awaits final approval from the Turlock City Council, expected at an upcoming meeting. Saini will pay any costs related to constructing a sign bearing the “Singh Walkway” name at the site.

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