On Dec. 5, 2019, the Austin City Council passed Resolution No. 20191205-117, initiating the process for renaming Metz Recreation Center to Rodolfo “Rudy” Mendez Recreation Center. Community members provided feedback in support of the name change, PARD director and the Parks and Recreation Board endorsed the renaming, and on July 29, 2020, Austin City Council approved the renaming of the facility. Continue reading to learn more about the background, process for renaming, and information about Mr. Metz and Mr. Mendez.
Metz Recreation Center was listed as a high priority for initial review following the Confederate Monuments Review Resolution (no. 20171005-31). The Equity Office presented the Confederate Monuments Resolution Report to Council in 2018 (PDF). In addition to identifying Metz Recreation Center as being named after Hamilton M. Metz, former captain in the Confederate Army, the presentation identified Resolution 20171011-05a from the Women's Commission for guidance on renaming. With these resolutions in mind, City Council passed resolution 20191205-117, initiating the renaming process under City Code Section 14-1-39 for the renaming of Metz Recreation Center to Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez Recreation Center.
Renaming a Park Facility
Austin City Code Section 14-1-39 identifies the process by which a park facility can be named or renamed. In this case, City Council is deemed to have submitted a nomination for renaming Metz Recreation Center. As a result of this nomination the following process is taking place:
- In order to promote community engagement and input from community members, immediately on receipt of notice from the director, the PARD shall take reasonable steps to inform persons who are likely to have an interest in the naming of the facility.
- This notice begins the 90-day period where PARD will receive comments regarding the nomination. The 90-day period for this process began February 4, 2020 and ends after May 3, 2020.
- As soon as practicable after the deadline for receiving nominations and endorsements, the director shall submit completed nominations and endorsements to the chair of the Parks and Recreation Board (PARB).
- On receipt of the nominations and endorsements, PARB shall schedule and conduct a public hearing on renaming the facility.
- The Parks and Recreation Board shall make a written recommendation to the Council not later than the 45th day after the date the chair receives the nominations and endorsements, and shall provide a copy of the recommendation to the city manager.
- The city manager shall provide each council member a copy of PARB's recommendation and the nominations and endorsements received by the director. The city manager shall place an item on the council's agenda as soon as practicable after PARB makes its recommendation.
On July 29, 2020, the Austin City Council approved the renaming of Metz Recreation Center to Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez Recreation Center. Below is additional information regarding the process.
- Community meetings were held at the recreation center on February 29 and March 3, 2020 - View the presentation (PDF)
- Online Survey open through 90-day comment period - Results (PDF)
- Memorandum of endorsement from PARD Director to Parks and Recreation Board (PDF), June 19, 2020
- Parks and Recreation Board approval, June 24, 2020
- Recommendation for action at City Council Meeting on July 29, 2020
- Austin City Council approval, July 29, 2020
Background of Hamilton M. Metz
Hamilton M. Metz was born in 1840 in South Carolina before moving to Austin in 1845. Metz served Austin before and after the Civil War as a firefighter. During the Civil War, he was one of an estimated 100 firefighters who volunteered to the Confederate army, becoming Captain of Company E of the 33rd Texas Cavalry. Later, Metz was elected as tax assessor for Travis County from 1879 to 1900. Metz then served the Austin school board as member and then president from 1902 until his death in 1915. Shortly after his death, Metz Elementary School was opened and named after him. Metz is buried at Oakwood Cemetery.
Background of Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez
Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez, born in Austin in 1944, studied dance and performing arts in New York and Spain. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile and Costa Rica, touring with each country's national ballet company and developing performing arts curriculum and programs for youth. In 1978, he returned to Austin and founded the Ballet East Dance Company to provide a platform for young choreographers and dancers and to develop vigorous outreach to Black and Hispanic communities in East Austin. From 1978 to 2000, Mr. Mendez worked for the Parks and Recreation Department as a program specialist at Metz Recreation Center. In 1989, he developed the city-wide program "Dare to Dance," recognized nationally. Mr. Mendez also created the Folkloric Dance and Mentoring Program to encourage students of living in East Austin to graduate high school. Rudy Mendez died in 2019.