What's In A Name?

A brief newsroom discussion on Wednesday generated this week’s topic, so allow me to add my 2 cents to the inane, yet bizarrely fascinating local debate over the naming of the new airport terminal.

Let’s first of all keep in mind that it is simply a building — concrete and rebar, that’s it. And it is not without its share of controversy, delays and tragedy.

That said, it’s a good-looking building, and regardless of how much charm people say has been lost at the old terminal, I believe it is much needed.

Gone are the days of being trapped like rats inside the old, cramped departure lounge after waiting in a humid, outside line to pass through security. That system was not working.

I was inside the new building last week to check out the updated version of the Conch Flyer. The floors were polished, the A/C was chilly and the new restaurant was grand.

Unfortunately, I realized about three seconds too late that the ladies’ room, while immaculate and brand new, was not yet equipped with toilet paper, given the percentage of male construction workers.

But I digress.

It is one building, and it is part of the overall entity known as the Key West International Airport. And in my opinion, no one will ever refer to the new building by whatever name we call it.

It will simply be “the airport,” or “the new building” or “the new terminal.”

How often do we call the high school auditorium anything but “the high school auditorium?”

I don’t mean any disrespect to Glynn R. Archer Jr. and his Center for the Performing Arts at Key West High

School, but no one calls it that.

We don’t say we are heading out to Stock Island to take a dive class at the William Seeker campus of Florida Keys Community College, and we don’t tell people we are going fishing at the Emma Cates Pier at the south end of Duval Street. (She was a former city commissioner who championed beach re-nourishment, and appropriately, has a plaque in her honor at the South Street Pier.)

In the case of the airport, there is no stand-out individual who personifies the project. And if the answer isn’t obvious and if the public sentiment isn’t unanimous, then we shouldn’t name the building after anyone.

Last I heard, county officials were considering putting together a committee to come up with a list of suitable and reputable names for the new building. I’m still at a loss.

Why must it have a name? It’s just a building.

Sure, it’s a multimillion dollar building with a series of controversies and delays surrounding it. But that doesn’t warrant a name, and certainly not the name of someone still alive.

I’d say the J. Edgar Hoover Building should be sufficient to convince people to wait. And if we’re so hellbent on some dedication and ribbon-cutting, dog-and-pony show, then ask the public what they think.

I’ve heard some ideas that make sense, such as the Conch Republic Terminal, although we don’t want to get into upheaval over intellectual property rights. It could be the Southernmost Terminal.

It could be a lot of things that would not stir up as much controversy and discrepancy as the current considerations, which already have spawned off-color jokes and unprintable editorial cartoons.

Why not hold a contest to solicit suggestions and task the county commissioners with choosing the one that makes the most sense?

I’m casting my vote for “Departure Terminal.” Let me know if I win.

Mandy Bolen’s columns appear in The Key West Citizen

Mandy Bolen's award winning "Tan Lines" column appears bi-weekly in the Key West Citizen. Offering unique insights on life in the southernmost island and life in general, her wit and wisdom has been likened to that of a "female Dave Barry."