My story in today’s Inquirer looks at the recent flurry of naming of buildings throughout the city, in particular the Theodore “Teddy” Hinson Waterfront Garage.
Hinson’s name joins a list of local politicians who have recently been honored with a building. The late Mayor Melvin R. Primas and former state Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez have also had the honor this year.
But one dignitary is balking at accepting a similar honor.
Last year, the Camden County Board of Freeholders decided to name the Ferry Avenue branch library in Camden after former county freeholder and longtime educator Riletta Cream.
Cream was the main attraction during the grand reopening of the branch library under her name and after a two-month renovation by the county. The facility was incorporated into the Camden County library system last winter, after the city library system had to shut down due to extreme budget cuts.
At the re-opening, which I attended, Cream was ecstatic about the new branch, noting that it looked just like its suburban counterparts.
But Cream, after whom a Camden elementary school already has been named, later declined to have her name attached to the library building.
“She protested the name on the building,” county spokesman Dan Keashen said Monday. “But we will try to speak to her again.”
When I reached Cream Wednesday morning she said having her name on one building was more than enough.
“I didn’t think I should have my name all over the place,” she said, adding that the Ferry Avenue branch should be named Centerville after the neighborhood it’s in or after a “good community person.”
As a freeholder, Cream championed the idea of building the Ferry branch library in 2005, the first in 100 years, she said. But she is happy knowing she did that.
“My name hanging out there, that is a bit much,” she said.
But the county still has the branch listed as the Riletta L. Cream Ferry Avenue branch on its website and on flyers and other library literature. Just not the outside.
Local amateur historian Phil Cohen, who keeps an extensive collection of Camden historical data on his website, said the trend in Camden of naming buildings and streets after elected officials started in the late 1990s.
At first it was a street here and there, he said, then it moved on to parks. Now it’s city buildings, he said.