The City of Wausau’s Park and Recreation Committee met on Monday evening with a very short agenda. Their mission, like they had a choice in accepting it, was to narrow the list of names submitted for the large grassy square downtown (which is what I am calling it to not influence the naming process) down to ten. These ten names would then go on a ballot where people could (either online or with a paper ballot) choose their favorite.
As much controversy as naming has been, the committee meeting was moved into Council Chambers where the large expected crowd could be accommodated. Even I expected more people than actually showed up. In addition to committee members and a few representatives from the park department, a couple of city leaders were in the audience including Mayor Tipple and Alderman Wagner. Members of the press were there, including reporters from the City Pages, the Wausau Daily Herald, and WSAU AM 550 radio. I considered myself part of the “press pool” covering the meeting unofficially for Citizen Wausau. And also in attendance, were two other “members of the audience.” Of course, security was also present with a uniformed Wausau police officer watching over the crowd.
So, how do you take a list of around 200 names and come down to 10? Well, this is how they did it. Each member of the committee was to come up with a list of their 10 favorite names of those submitted, and then rank them from their most favorite to their least favorite. In order, these were the names that were submitted by the various committee members…
1) City Square
2) Courthouse Square
3) McIndoe Square
4) Pinery Square
6) Jefferson Square
7) Old Courthouse Square
8) Freedom Square
9) Peoples Park
10) Herritage Square
Next up to bat, Oberbeck:
1) The 400 Block (note… I had actually bet this wouldn’t make the list)
2) City Square
3) Landmark Square
4) Alexander Square
5) Founders Square
6) The Square
7) Bull Falls Square
8) Heritage Square
9) The Square on Scott Street
10) Freedom Square
Nutting’s 10 choices were:
1) Freedom Square
2) City Square
3) Founders Square
4) Grand Square
5) Grand Plaza
6) Grand Central Park
7) Liberty Square
8) McIndoe Square
9) Kelly Square
10) Kellys Park
1) City Square
2) The 400 Block
3) Metro Square
4) Bull Falls Square
5) Grand Plaza
6) Festival Square
7) Wausau Square
8) Central Park
9) Community Square
10) Freedom Square
And hitting clean-up was committee chair Gale, who only had 8 names he liked:
1) 400 Block
2) Alexander Square
3) City Square
4) Freedom Square
5) Friendship Square
6) Lt. Sudut Square
7) Metro Square
8) Courthouse Square.
Now is when things got interesting. The next step was to make a master list of all of the 30 names that were chosen by the committee members and get them narrowed down to the final 10. And if I can be painfully honest, this took way longer than it had to.
Representatives from the park department made a master list with all 30 names. Then, five columns were made and each committee member’s ranking was put next to the various names. The goal was to come up with the 10 lowest scores. However, in order for this to work, a place holder number was needed. So, once all the names and all the rankings were done, any blank spot on this 5 wide by 30 down grid was assigned the number of 11. Then, all 30 names had each of their five numbers totaled. Then, the 10 lowest numbers were to be the 10 choices.
Meanwhile, in the peanut gallery, about 3-4 minutes into this, I decided to use my own system. I was done in less than 5 minutes and showed my final results to all of those around me in the audience. I had my list of 10 put together about 15-20 minutes before all the totals were in. A big thank you goes out to another math geek in the room (committee member Havel) who had already calculated what the 10 lowest numbers were.
Here is how I came up with my list of 10 names. Of the 30 submitted names, 19 of them were only listed by one committee member, and in theory only had one vote each (regardless of how high said vote was ranked). So, I removed those 19 which brought the list down to 11 names.
Since the target number was 10, I only needed to knock one name off the list. City Square and Freedom Square were both on the lists of all 5 committee members. The 400 Block was on three lists, the other 8 were named by two members each. Although Heritage Square did get two votes, there were both very low. Gisselman had it as his #10 and Oberbeck had it as his #8. If I take that name off my list, I have 10.
About a half hour later after doing way too much math, the City came up with the same list of ten that I did. Ladies and gentlemen, your 10 finalists are…
1) City Square (9 points, 5 votes)
2) The 400 Block (26 points, 3 votes)
3) Freedom Square (33 points, 5 votes)
4) Alexander Square (39 points, 2 votes)
5) Founders Square (41 points, 2 votes)
6) Courthouse Square (43 points, 2 votes)
7) Metro Square (43 points, 2 votes)
8) Grand Plaza (43 points, 2 votes)
9) McIndoe Square (44 points, 2 votes)
10) Bull Falls Square (44 points, 2 votes)
On the ballot, which can be picked up at Wausau City Hall, the Parks Dept office on River Drive (note, the Daily Herald is reporting that the second location is the library, which it could be – I have been known to be wrong when not paying as much attention as I should), or can be cast online on the city’s website starting Wednesday.
Although I posted the number of votes and the score each recieved in committee, these 10 names are not being given any preference by the commitee… all 10 names are going on the ballot as equals. They will be listed in alphabetical order along with the support statement that was submitted with the name (if there were multiple submissions for a name, park department staff will pick the support statement they feel best embodies the reason for the name).
There will be no running totals of the vote count. In March, the City of Wausau Common Council will receive the ballot results. It was pointed out that this process is to recommend a name to the council, the council will ultimately make the final decision.
Say what you will about the process, this list should make all happy. I am happy to see that The 400 Block is on the list (although I did lose a wager of a 6 pack of beer because I thought it wouldn’t be). The apparent favorite of the Square Up Committee (City Square) is also on the ballot. Joe McGrath, who has been the champion of “Freedom Square” will be able to vote for that name (as will the 1,000 people who signed his petition, they will need to cast votes, all suggested names are starting Wednesday morning with zero votes). Each person will only be allowed one vote, and you do not need to be a Wausau resident to cast a vote. They will track duplicate votes by requiring a LEGIBLE address with each submitted ballot.
So… hopefully the name you feel passionately about is on this list. Time to let your voice be heard and make your choice for the name of our own little grassy knoll be known.