Some residents of a New Jersey town are unhappy about a decision to rename the local "John F. Kennedy Center" to the "Barack Obama Center."
The Willingboro Township Council voted earlier this week on the name change and will vote again to add the word "President" in front of the center’s new designation.
According to Philly.com, it was Deputy Mayor Jacqueline Jennings’ idea to update the center’s moniker. "I think that people have a sense of pride about [Obama]. We had so many new people register to vote, people who had never voted before."
But people were quick to react on social media, with mostly negative comments.
One reader wrote on the Facebook page of the local newspaper the Burlington County Times, “I think it's disrespectful & disgraceful”
Another wrote: “I will never step foot in that place if that change is made.”
According to The Blaze, Councilman Chris Walker said the renaming is “not a slight to President Kennedy, as [the] building’s adjoining street and nearby shopping plaza are still named after JFK.” Walker said “the Obama and Kennedy names are a perfect combination of two presidents who were very involved in community.”
The editorial board of the Burlington County Times suggests an alternative plan: after Obama’s presidency is over, rename the local high school after him instead. “There will be many more great presidents and more historic presidencies, but there will never be another John F. Kennedy," the board wrote. "Allow the remodeled building to continue Kennedy’s legacy and create new memories for Willingboro residents.”
The council awarded a $4.9 million contract to convert the center’s cafeteria into a banquet hall and upgrade the lobby and entrance. The center houses the township’s recreation department, its programs and its senior citizen center.