Almost immediately after the passing of former San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos last April, city officials began contemplating how to honor the long-time public official who served 18 years on the City Council spread across three decades.
On Monday night, the San Leandro City Council will decide whether to rename Grover Cleveland Park on O’Donnell Avenue after Santos.
There is a historical connection to the park, which is located on the western half of Davis Street. In 1985, as a councilmember, Santos first recommended building a park at the then-vacant parcel.
In 1992, it was named Grover Cleveland Park in recognition less for the former president, but for the school once located in the neighborhood and later demolished to make room for housing.
Prior to his passing last spring, Santos had requested to family members and some city officials that the park be named after him. He called the creation of the park his greatest accomplishment while serving in city government.
Other potential avenues for acknowledging Santos’ contributions to the city, include renaming Eden Road, renaming the Mulford-Marina Library, and adding the additional ceremonial title of “mayor emeritus” to his name.
A resident of San Leandro for more than 50 years, Santos served on the city council from 1984-1992. After two terms, he returned in 2000 and served another six years. In 2006, he was elected mayor and served one four-year term.
Under his leadership, Santos was a staunch advocate for the city and helped disassociate San Leandro from its past as a “whites-only” enclave into one of the most diverse cities in the U.S.
Santos began his career in politics fighting vigorously for limiting airplane noise from the Oakland Airport, which abutted his council district. He ended his time in public life leading the effort to bring Kaiser Permanente and 2,600 jobs to San Leandro.