By Thomas Grillo
A quiet move to change the name of the Lynn Public Library to honor former Mayor Patrick McManus has been rejected.
The 4-2 vote by the library’s Board of Trustees last week puts an end to the controversial plan for now.
“There was strong sentiment among the trustees, stewards of the library, that the building should not have someone’s name attached to it,” said Rick Wood, a library trustee for 18 years who voted with the majority to keep the Lynn Public Library name.
“It was not done out of any disrespect of Mayor McManus, people think highly of him. But there was agreement the library should not be named after anyone.”
McManus was elected to the Lynn City Council in 1985 and served as mayor from 1992 to 2002. In 2009, he launched a bid to run against incumbent Mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr. But McManus died at the start of the campaign at 54.
In a Boston Globe profile after his death, the paper reported McManus raised Lynn’s profile. Among his standout moments they wrote included when he stood beside President Bill Clinton on the White House lawn as Lynn police officers hired with federal dollars were sworn into office; he replaced water and sewer lines to comply with a federal mandate, and oversaw expansion and renovation of the city’s three public high schools, as the state picked up 90 percent of the cost.
Last fall, Mayor Thomas M. McGee, City Council President Darren Cyr, City Councilor-at-Large Gordon “Buzzy” Barton, former Mayor Thomas Costin Jr., and Daily Item Publisher Ted Grant made their case to the trustees for the name change.
Costin, who was the beneficiary of an act of Congress last spring when the U.S. Post Office on Willow Street was renamed the Thomas P. Costin Jr. Post Office Building, said it was McManus’wish to have the library named for him.
“He told me and several friends that he would love the library to have his name upon his death,” he said. “It’s too bad the trustees said no.”
But Jeanette Maes, a former library trustee, said if she was on the board she would have opposed the idea.
“It’s a terrible idea,” she said. “It’s a historical building and we should keep our city’s history intact. Pat McManus was a great guy. He appointed me to the board, but the name should stay.”
In 1893, Elizabeth Shute donated money to the city for a library, according to the library’s website. Ground was broken in 1898 and the new facility opened two years later on North Common Street.
Maria Garuti, vice president of Friends of the Lynn Public Library, said the six-member executive board were not told of the plan to change the library’s name.
“This is the first time I’m hearing about it,” she told The Journal. “If I been asked, I would have turned down the idea. I liked Pat McManus, I have nothing against him, but I like the name of the Lynn Public Library.”
Trustee Joseph Smart was one of the two votes to allow a name change be considered. When reached by phone, he asked for time to consider his comments and promised to call back, but did not.
Vice Chairman Rolf Flor was the other vote to discuss a name change.
“It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” he said. “No one is interested in putting a Pepsi Cola sign above the Lynn Library, it’s not about selling the Fleet Center. It’s about naming the library after a valued former mayor as an honor to him.”
But other members felt changing or adding the former mayor’s name to the building was short sighted, Flor added.
Board of Trustees Chairman William Conway did not return calls seeking comment.
McGee said he backed the plan to change the name because McManus kept the library open during tough financial times.
“I endorsed the idea, but it is up to the library trustees to make that decision,” he said.
Woods said while the trustees agreed the advocates for the name change were highly respected, they failed to convince a majority of members.
“It’s just demonstrates how protective the trustees are for the library,” he said. “We were open to naming areas of the library or rooms for Mayor McManus, but they did not request it.”