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Bay names park in honor of former Brewers player Counsell

Recently retired Bay native earned two World Series rings

May 8, 2012

Whitefish Bay - Green space used by recently retired professional baseball player Craig Counsell during his formative years is being named in his honor.

The Whitefish Bay Village Board on Monday voted to name a Little League site Craig Counsell Park. The venue, located along Lydell Avenue, has informally been referred to as Water Tower Park over the years.

Counsell, a Whitefish Bay native, played baseball at Water Tower and Cahill parks as a youth. He currently lives in the community with his wife, Michelle, and four children.

Counsell made his Major League Baseball debut in 1995 with the Colorado Rockies and retired at the end of the 2011 season as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Village Manager Pat DeGrave said a resident's request sparked the discussion of naming the park after Counsell. The resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, implored DeGrave and other village officials to name something within the community after the athlete because of his ties to the community and his contributions to Major League Baseball.

"It seems like naming the baseball park in his honor was a natural choice," DeGrave said.

Because the park never had a formal name, DeGrave said the name change will not have a cost impact on the village. Another proposal - naming a street in the village after Counsell - would be costly.

While taking up the proposal Monday, board members were overwhelmingly supportive of naming the park after Counsell.

Trustee Brenda Szumski attempted, unsuccessfully, to table the request and have it brought back to the next board meeting so interested residents could offer input. Szumski's motion failed on a 4-3 vote.

"It seems like a significant decision for the village," Szumski said. "I think it's valuable to have the rest of the residents speak on this. I don't think it hurts anyone."

But Trustee Richard Foster maintained a different perspective.

"I think that is monumentally unnecessary," Foster said.

Tributary gestures in parks has been a hot topic in the community so far this year. Earlier this spring, the board scrutinized a proposal to have a monument installed at Buckley Park in honor of Whitefish Bay Middle School teacher Geoffrey Farnsworth, who died last year of cancer.

But concerns about the Farnsworth memorial were linked to a reduction in green space at Buckley Park. The changes at Water Tower Park are in name only.

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