No movement from city on library renaming

COMMITMENT—Ed Jones, center, seen here with his family at a Sept. 10 celebration of his 93rd birthday, helped bring a library to Newbury Park. BECCA WHITNALL/Acorn Newspapers

COMMITMENT—Ed Jones, center, seen here with his family at a Sept. 10 celebration of his 93rd birthday, helped bring a library to Newbury Park. BECCA WHITNALL/Acorn Newspapers

A months long campaign to rename the Newbury Park Library after a former Thousand Oaks City Council member has so far failed to yield results.

Advocates would like to see the building renamed in honor of Ed Jones, who helped establish a library on that side of town. Jones was serving as a Ventura County supervisor at the time, having already completed his first term as council member, from 1970 to 1974.

He went on to serve on the Board of Supervisors and later held a seat on the Conejo Recreation and Park District board before returning for another term on the council from 2018 to 2022.

Jeanne Boe, who used to teach in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, wrote in a Feb. 25 letter to the editor about how the library came about.

“I was a teacher at Sequoia Intermediate School in 1976 when Ed Jones, then a county supervisor, visited Sequoia and made a presentation concerning the Declaration of Independence on the occasion of its 200th anniversary,” Boe wrote. “After Jones’ talk, many students approached him about the idea of having a library in Newbury Park, especially for the students living there. Ed took the idea and ran with it.”

Jones had meetings with the Sequoia principal, CVUSD superintendent and the Ventura County library director, Boe said.

“Before you knew it, we had two fairly large modular buildings in the Sequoia parking lot that served as a library for 14 years. Let me repeat that: The Newbury Park students had a library which they used continuously from 1977 to 1991,” she wrote.

Among the major reasons Jones liked the idea of a local library for Newbury Park were access and safety. Often, to get to the library, children had to walk or ride their bikes, and negotiating the route on their own from home to the old library location on Wilbur Road was something parents weren’t willing to allow their kids to do.

“Perhaps the main reason the parents didn’t want their children to try to ride their bikes from Newbury Park to the county library behind the Janss Mall was the dangerous— for bike riders—freeway bridges,” said Jones, who celebrated his 93rd birthday last weekend.

“The freeway bridges have now been widened, but in the 1970s the bridges at Lynn, Ventu Park, Borchard, etc., were narrow— one lane each way—and there were no bike paths.”

While there have been a couple of speakers before the council asking for the dedication, a petition in circulation throughout the city and a letter to the editor in the Thousand Oaks Acorn nearly every week for weeks, the city has received no formal request for the move, a city spokesperson said.

“Neither our city attorney’s office nor city clerk has received any petitions relating to that topic as of today,” said Alexandra South, public affairs director, speaking late last month. “The naming of buildings or other significant city property is up to the City Council and would be an agendized item at a future meeting if the council decided to take up this type of recognition request.”

Councilmembers David Newman and Al Adam said they were unfamiliar with the petition effort.

It’s no surprise; petition organizers said they didn’t bother to turn the petition in after receiving lackluster responses from city leaders.

Though he also had not seen the petition, Councilmember Bob Engler said, he is aware of the renaming movement and has been approached about the subject.

“Ed is very deserving,” he said. “But we rarely name a building after someone.”

Engler pointed out that Alex Fiore, whose name is on the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, served on the original City Council in 1964. He was mayor six times over his 30 years in office. Andy Fox served 24 years and served as mayor for six terms. The council chambers at the Scherr Theatre take on his name only when council is in session.

“We don’t have a policy in place for this. I’ve asked staff to take a look at it,” Engler said.

“I’m not sure what form it would take. I’m trying to figure out another way of honoring him. Claudia (Bill-de la Peña) got a post at the Kavli. I’m not sure naming a library after Ed is in the city wheelhouse.”

No mention was made of the main library being named for former city manager Grant Brimhall.

Mayor Kevin McNamee spoke along similar lines as Engler.

“It brings me immense joy to acknowledge and express my heartfelt gratitude for the incredible commitment that Ed Jones poured into making Thousand Oaks and the entire county shine. . . .” he said, but added that “the City Council’s schedule is full until year-end, with a focus on tackling crucial challenges that will shape the city’s trajectory for decades.”

Top among issues the council is dealing with are the approval of the general plan and putting an inclusionary housing program in place. The city is also in the process of securing housing for the area’s homeless population.

“The staff has diligently prepared proposed solutions and choices for the council’s deliberation,” McNamee said. “This remains the foremost priority for both the council and staff members.”