A longtime Wyandotte elected official may soon see his name on more than the city's stationary.
Mayor Joseph Peterson is recommending that the be renamed the James R. DeSana Arts and Cultural Center in honor of the sitting city council member and former mayor.
Peterson said DeSana, 81, is to credit for the arts center as it was under his mayoral tenure in October 2006 that the city purchased the former Masonic Temple with the intention of turning it into a cultural facility.
"Thanks to his insight, we now have a cultural facility that meets today's demands for a place where our residents of all ages can showcase their talents, whether it is youth theater, lectures, painting, music, or any of the many other enriching activities available for our enjoyment," Peterson wrote in a letter to city officials. "This historic structure, in its current use as an art center, has already become a tremendous asset to the cultural development of our community."
Only two municipal buildings in Wyandotte currently are named after people with ties to the community.
is named after the city's first Superintendent of Recreation, Benjamin F. Yack, and the is named after longtime State Rep. William R. Copeland. Both men are now deceased.
"I believe Councilman DeSana's contributions and achievements, as well as his dedication to this community and its residents during his 55 years of public service as an elected official at the city, county and state levels, make him very deserving of this honor," Peterson wrote in his letter.
DeSana's history with the city dates back to 1957 when he was first elected to the council. He held that position until becoming mayor in 1961. He held the city's top seat until 1969, at which time he was elected as a Wayne County Commissioner. He remained with the county until 1976 when he was elected as a state senator. He served in Lansing for a decade before returning to local politics, when he was elected to his second term as Wyandotte mayor in 1987.
After serving for 10 years as mayor, DeSana took some time off from politics to serve as the director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. He held that job from 1997 to 2000. He was elected back to the Wyandotte council in 2001 and served one, four-year term before becoming mayor for his third stint in 2005. After four years as mayor, he was elected to the council in 2009, where he remains today.
DeSana said he grew up being involved with recreational activities under Yack's watch and considered Copeland as a political mentor.
"I’m very appreciative of the mayor submitting my name for that honor," he said. "To be included with two outstanding names as Ben Yack and Bill Copeland, makes me feel so proud because I knew both of those people very well. ... I'm truly honored."
DeSana said many people are to be credited for turning the former Masonic Temple into the cultural attraction it is today.
"Wyandotte has always had outstanding recreational facilities, but when it came to the cultural activities, we needed to make that more available, not only to people in Wyandotte, but all of Downriver," he said.
DeSana said he is especially pleased with the Downriver Council for the Arts, which is housed inside and oversees the operations of the arts center.
"Regardless of the name of the building, it will still be the home of the Downriver Council for the Arts," he said. "They are doing an excellent job and continue to move beyond my expectations."
DeSana is a member of the DCA and said he intends to become more active with them next year when he retires from elected office.
"My term is up in 2013 ... and I do not intend to seek reelection," he said. "I hope to get more involved in the Downriver Council for the Arts when I'm out of public office and assist them in making that a facility that all of Downriver can talk about."
Several years ago, the city also renamed a street near after DeSana.
The arts center issue is set to be discussed at Monday night's Wyandotte City Council meeting.