Fred Grimm

Fred Grimm: West Kendall, by any other name, would smell as sweet

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Juan Zapata wants “West End” to be the new name for West Kendall and surrounding communities. He is proposing that West Kendall Regional Library be renamed “West End Regional Library.”
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Juan Zapata wants “West End” to be the new name for West Kendall and surrounding communities. He is proposing that West Kendall Regional Library be renamed “West End Regional Library.”

No, no. Not Weston, you silly people. West End.

For those of you who don’t mumble, Weston is an affluent planned community of 65,000 in the western reaches of Broward County, often associated with famous former resident Dan Marino.

West End, until lately, until this Tuesday to be exact, was the name most of us attached to London’s theater-arts-shopping-fancy-people district, with Piccadilly Circus, Marble Arch, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park Corner, with Soho, Mayfair, the highest rents in the known universe, with glitterati up the wazoo.

That West End, however, along with the West Ends of Boston, Pittsburgh and Grand Bahama, will soon be shunted aside in the public imagination by Juan Zapata’s newer, spiffier West End, the community we-of-so-little-imagination have been calling West Kendall.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Zapata intends to begin the re-naming at Tuesday’s commission meeting with a motion to change the West Kendall Regional Library to the West End Regional Library. My Miami Herald colleague Michael Vasquez reported that it will cost $5,132 to replace the library’s old signs.

Sorry, I didn’t really mean to suggest that West Kendall would be “renamed.” In 2015, consumer products, commercial enterprises, politicians and apparently suburban neighborhoods don’t get renamed. They get rebranded. Zapata intends to herd West Kendall and a few adjacent neighborhoods into this new rebranded community, West End, population 215,000.

He admitted, however, that his notion hasn’t ignited a groundswell of support among those who would be recast as West Enders. Though he promised — if they want to be sticks-in-the-mud about the name change — they could still claim to be of West Kendall. (West Kendallites? West Kendallians? West Kendallers?) In an email exchange with Vasquez, Zapata admitted that his efforts to solicit public suggestions for a new name “got very little engagement.”

The Herald story, however, attracted a number of public comments, none of them very enthusiastic. For example, Luis Gil complained: “Why would anyone admit to living in West End when they can be easily ridiculed as being from Dead End or even worse Rear End?”

Once word gets out about his rebranding scheme, Zapata might also find himself contending with scores of unhappy business owners with signs, stationery, advertising, business cards, incorporation papers and websites stuck with the anachronistic West Kendall appellation. Car dealers, doctor offices, beauty salons, real estate ventures, a newspaper, hospitals — both human and animal — have spent considerable money calling themselves West Kendall something-or-another.

Might be time to invest in a West Kendall — oops, make that West End — sign painting company.

If nothing else, the rebranding debate ought to divert public attention away from the tumult caused in August when Zapata charged the county $30,961 to cover his first year’s tuition toward a Harvard University master’s degree. (After the hullabaloo, Zapata returned the money.)

Juan Zapata was in need of some rebranding himself. Plus, this might provide an answer to a lingering question from the tuition scandal: What the hell is he learning at Harvard for that $30,961?

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