New Government Building To Be named After Indiana Mayor?
Harry Baals building unlikely
City signals disfavor, despite web poll lead
Benjamin Lanka | The Journal Gazette
FORT WAYNE – Despite garnering far more support in an online poll than the thicket of other suggestions, residents shouldn't expect Fort Wayne's new government center to be named after one of the city's longest tenured mayors.
Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy said naming 200 E. Berry St. the Harry Baals Government Center was "probably not" going to happen.
"We love Fort Wayne, too," she said. "We're not going to make any decisions that look bad."
The name has received 882 votes on the city's website, www.feedbackfortwayne.org as of Monday afternoon – more than triple that of its nearest competitor: Eugene Johnson Memorial Center.
Johnson was the properties manager for the Allen County Public Library while it occupied the building. The city's online poll allows anyone to submit names for the building and then vote on the suggestions.
Baals – pronounced "balls" by the then-mayor but "bales" by his descendents – became the Republican nominee for mayor in 1934 and was elected for three successive terms. He returned to politics in 1951 by winning a fourth term but died in office in May 1954. His accomplishments include elevating the railroads in town and negotiating the contract with the Army to establish Baer Field as an air base.
While Baals was a popular mayor, Malloy noted he had an unfortunate name and some elected officials have said such a name would be an embarrassment to the city.
The other name that received votes was Eug Johnson.