The West Kendall Regional Library is getting renamed — part of Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan Zapata’s effort to rebrand West Kendall and surrounding neighborhoods as “West End.”
By a 10-1 vote, county commissioners on Tuesday approved Zapata’s request to rename the library “West End Regional Library.” In a last-minute amendment, Zapata tweaked the renaming item so that the $5,132 cost for new signs would come from his office account, instead of the library system’s operating fund.
For two years, Zapata, who represents the area, has aggressively worked to rebrand West Kendall and nearby areas as “West End.” The commissioner uses the #WestEnd hashtag frequently on social media, and this new library name is part of his rebranding campaign.
By unanimous vote, and without discussion, commissioners also approved changing the name of West Kendall District Park to “West End District Park.”
Zapata told fellow commissioners on Tuesday that there are some neighborhoods near West Kendall that don’t identify with that name, and so his goal with “West End” is to create an umbrella term that everyone in the area can use.
“We’re not replacing West Kendall. West Kendall doesn’t go away,” Zapata said. “But I needed something to unify the community.”
Zapata said he is also using the rebranding to try to attract more businesses to his district.
Zapata’s renaming victory may be short-lived. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Tuesday that he may veto the new library name. Gimenez said he didn’t think there has been enough input from the public on the “West End” name.
“I’ve known it as Kendall ever since I’ve been here,” Gimenez said. “I’ve been here over 50 years. And I don’t think that this is the right way to do it.”
Gimenez noted that when Dade County’s name was changed to Miami-Dade County, that change was approved by voters, according to the requirements of the county charter.
There was no public vote or survey of West Kendall-area residents on whether they like the “West End” name. Zapata said he has consulted with the community through “informal, but yet robust” discussions.
“Every time we have an event, we put West End,” Zapata said. “Folks are receptive when we have a conversation with them.”
A Monday story in the Miami Herald about Zapata’s renaming push prompted dozens of angry online comments protesting the “West End” name change. But at Tuesday’s vote, no one opposed to the name change showed up. Two citizens supporting the name change (both of them Zapata supporters) showed up to urge the commissioners to vote yes.
“I can’t wait to hear people say, ‘I live in the West End,’” said one supporter, Ory Dawes.
That lack of public protest helped Zapata’s measure pass easily. Also in Zapata’s favor: County commissioners tend to defer to the commissioner who represents the area on neighborhood issues.
Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava cast the dissenting vote, saying she felt the renaming was “a little premature.”
“It hasn’t really become the will of the public,” she said.
A Florida International University study requested by Zapata identified the borders of the West End as Southwest Eighth Street to the north, Southwest 152nd Street to the south, Florida’s Turnpike to the east, and Krome Avenue to the west.
But not all of that area is within Zapata’s commission district. On Tuesday, Commissioner Dennis Moss, while voting for the library renaming, said that the area east of the Turnpike (near 152nd Street) that’s in his district is definitely not the West End.
“I want to be just very, very clear about that,” Moss said.
Miami Herald Staff Writer Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.