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Should the City Rename the Depot Plaza After Dick Jessup?

The former mayor and designer of the downtown hub died earlier this month, causing some to wonder if official recognition of his connection to it is in order.

Two weeks before , former Mill Valley Mayor Dick Jessup hosted more than a dozen former mayors at his home near the . The get-together was both an indication of Jessup’s stature in town and a realization that the end was near.

The group chatted for a while over wine and cheese, with most of the former local pols paying their respects to the man who came up with the idea to create the and designed it, according to current (and former) Mayor Garry Lion, who attended the gathering.

Jessup first proposed transforming the former train station-turned-bus station at the center of downtown, with Greyhound and Golden Gate Transit buses turning around in the area where  customers now sit outside and parking being the dominant use, into a community gathering place surrounded by parking. The plaza was built in 1982 based on Jessup’s drawings.

“There was also quite a bit of discussion and even the suggestion that the city ought to consider renaming the plaza in Dick’s honor,” Lion said of the gathering.

Lion said there is an existing City Council policy of not naming streets or places in town after people while they are living, but that obviously doesn't apply to Jessup.

Lion said he supports the idea of connecting Jessup in a more pronounced way with the Depot Plaza, either naming it after him or, at the very least, installing a plaque recognizing his role in its creation. Several councilmembers declined to comment, saying it was a bit premature for them to weigh in right now since the matter could come before them in the future.

"I personally would like to honor Dick’s contributions in a meaningful, public way – and the city will do that," Councilwoman Shawn Marshall said. "I’m not sure about the renaming of major public facilities after any one person, but this is something the council needs to discuss. Either way, I don't consider it a litmus test for how much he was loved and respected in Mill Valley – that goes without saying."

So what do you think? Should the city name the Depot Plaza after Dick Jessup? Is a plaque more appropriate? Vote in our poll below and let us know in the Comments section why you feel the way you do.

Frank Lurz August 02, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Why do we have to name the plaza after anyone? It's not as if the thing was the Pyramid of Cheops, Hadrian's Wall or the Washington Monument. It's just a parking lot paved over with some bricks! It's not as though it were conceived by someone with the stature of a Julius Caesar, Albert Schweitzer or Benjamin Franklin. The most famous plaza in history was a "forum" (plaza). It was located in Rome. It was known by everyone as the Roman Forum ("Forum Romanum"); it wasn't named after anybody. Depot plaza is — a "plaza." It's located where the train depot used to be. Can't we just call the thing what it is? The folks over there at City Hall really need to get over themselves!
Margritha Fliegauf August 02, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I agree totally! We are very grateful to Mr.Jessup for his vision and contribution to Mill Valley and a plaque would be a well deserved gesture of appreciation. However, renaming the Depot Plaza should not be up for discussion ! We all have nicely setlled in to it's name." Meet you at the Plaza", or "meet you at the Depot" is a sentence I hear every day and has become part of our vocabulary. I hope our Mayor will concentrate more on urgent issues like the preservation of Mill Valley Lumber, Kite Hill , the paving of the roads and fighting the sudden rash of Graffiti all over MIll Valley. I hope that the council members take a firm stand on this issue and simply say NO!
gwyn jones August 02, 2012 at 05:24 PM
My goodness, what a way to turn a nice thought into a battle with via the above comments. Mr. Jessup just passed away and contributed much to the town. No need for such comments. How about asking yourselves how you can contribute to the town, as he did? It would not kill us to have the Plaza be "Jessup Depot Plaza", but that is not the point. The lack of graciousness is.
Donald Herzog August 02, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Without Dick Jessup's leadership and advocacy, the Plaza area would still be an ugly parking lot. He took considerable heat from the merchants and community, and led the effort to develop the Plaza into the gem we enjoy today. Let's name the Plaza for Dick and also provide a plaque explaining that improvements like the Plaza exist only because a Citizen had a vision and worked hard to make it happen.
Sylvia "Chipps" Newsom Barsky August 02, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Dick Jessup was a huge contributor to Mill Valley. He was our mayor, a member of many local organizations that supported the enhancement of Mill Valley, and he was a renowned architect. If you are new to our town, I encourage you to google him and find out more about his passion and contributions to our town. He loved Mill Valley and raised his family here. If he did not come up with the profound idea to turn the bus parking lot into the simple yet beautiful plaza back in 1980, the downtown heart of Mill Valley would be a very different place. Yes, recognize Dick for his overwhelming contributions to our town and name the Plaza after him as well as place a plaque that will capture the history changing visions he gave to us.
Mill Valley Neighbor August 02, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Just to be clear, we are proposing changing the name to “Dick’s Plaza.” The kids are going to have a field day with that!
Tori Herzog August 02, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Awesome idea. Dick Jessup should be honored for all his contributions for so many years to Mill Valley.
Marilyn B August 02, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Dick Jessup was a huge contribitor to Mill Valley. We all agree. How he is recognized is the issue. I suggest leaving "Depot Plaza" within the name somewhere so those unfamiliar with our town know where it is. Our yonger generations probably don't know which bridge is the John McCarthy Bridge or where the McArthur Tunnel is.
Frank Lurz August 02, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Get a grip. It's not the Colossus of Rhodes. It's a parking lot paved over with some bricks!
Frank Lurz August 02, 2012 at 09:09 PM
"Battle?" Don't you think you're overreacting just a tad? Not even remotely a "battle," this is merely a discussion, a debate at most! The question was posed because it was obvious there would be varied opinions — and reasons to justify them. Why do you feel "no need for such comments?" Because you disapprove of discussion or debate? Naming the site "Jessup Depot Plaza" is an exercise in historical revisionism. There never, ever, was a "Jessup Depot." The site was known as the "railroad depot," and later, our "Greyhound Bus Depot." Having used that depot countless times for trips back and forth to the city, I still think of it in that sense. You want to preserve Jessup's memory? How about the memories of we who have lived here so long? Don't they count? You're right, the plaza was a "nice thought." Every bit as "nice" was the public restroom in Old Mill Park. Surely, you're not going to suggest we name that after someone, too, are you?
Frank Lurz August 02, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Excuse me, but I love Mill Valley, too! Doesn't that count? Many of us old-timers have also contributed to Mill Valley through our taxes and our patronage of the town's businesses. Some of that money went toward the building of Depot Plaza; Mr. Jessup couldn't have paid for it without us! Why shouldn't it be named after us? As an old guy, I'm not particularly accepting of folks with "history changing visions" that don't respect my history or the history of Mill Valley. That aside, how much will your plaque cost to design? How much to manufacture? How much for the installation? How much for maintenance? Last, but not least, if you don't pay for all that out of your own pocket, whom do you think should? Uh — let me guess.
Fritz Hottenstein August 02, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Rename it what you want to honor Dick Jessup. It will still be called "Depot Plaza" by most, just like AT&T Park and Candlestick. Or maybe you can call it Dick Jessup's bricks at Depot Plaza.
Jody Stickney August 03, 2012 at 02:12 AM
That was my first thought! Hahaha!
Jody Stickney August 03, 2012 at 02:13 AM
I don't think so, a plaque will suffice, maybe even a bench. I still have trouble thinking of it as "Depot Plaza" yuk
Jody Stickney August 03, 2012 at 02:14 AM
It will always be called "The Bus Depot" by the rest of us.
Jody Stickney August 03, 2012 at 02:19 AM
The Bus Depot, that's what it was, is and always will be..Depot Plaza indeed, harumph!
Donald Herzog August 03, 2012 at 06:05 AM
And they once said "It will always be called the Train Depot".
Mari August 03, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Yikes, Frank - I see your points, but why so harsh?
MV Resident August 03, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I think a privately funded plaque commemorating Mr. Jessup's efforts would be a nice and fitting remembrance. The City should designate a permanent location for it on the Depot Plaza and oversee its installation, but that should be the extent of the City and taxpayer's contribution. Re-naming the Depot feels over the top. Now, if someone would re-design and fix the problematic intersection of Miller and Throckmorton...then I'd be in favor of naming it after them!
Mari August 03, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Very interesting, MV Resident. Check this out : http://millvalley.patch.com/search?_utf8=%E2%98%83&keywords=bulb+out
Anne Tique August 04, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Though for several years now our family has called it Latte Liberal Plaza, I think a plaque outlining the known history of the plaza, from earliest days to the present, which would include mention of Mr. Jessup, would be a worthy city project.
Larry Bathgate August 06, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I would like to suggest it be named the "Jessup Memorial Depot Plaza". That way, it could still be referred to as the "Depot Plaza", but officially, the longer name would be used. It would be a very public way to honor Dick Jessup, and the placement of a plaque somewhere in the plaza should also be considered.
Larry Bathgate August 06, 2012 at 09:04 PM
But it wasn't always a "bus depot". It became the Greyhound Bus Depot in 1940 after Greyhound took over the Mill Valley commute and tourist service. Before that, it was a train terminal, most famously as the starting off point for the Mt Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway which went bust in 1929. The building itself was constructed in 1928. It continued to serve as a train station for the Mill Valley spur line (3rd rail electric train service) of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad until 1940, when the rail service was discontinued and Greyhound moved in. Greyhound remained until 1970 when Golden Gate Transit took over the commute and tourist service. Some time after that, it ceased to be used as a bus station. Finally, in 1982, it was reborn as the Depot Bookstore and Cafe. Please see: http://millvalley.patch.com/articles/then-now-the-depot#photo-5086779
Sylvia "Chipps" Newsom Barsky August 07, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Very nice idea. It covers a lot and does not add any confusion to the already accepted name. Good thinking!

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