Wyandotte Arts Center Could be Renamed for DeSana

Mayor Joseph Peterson is recommending that the center be renamed the James R. DeSana Arts and Cultural Center in honor of the sitting City Council member and former mayor.

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.

Keith Gillette June 24, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Is the current name broken? Leave it stay. Let Wyandotte have its own identity. There's more things going on in today's world to spend time,energy and money on.
Zachariah Malachai-Martin Welch June 26, 2012 at 12:12 AM
There are so many other good people in this city that deserve stuff named after them. I'm 100% for the underdogs that are out there everyday with ideas on how to better this city. Politicians are always getting pats on the back when there is a ton of stuff that is still unjust and not even looked at by the city council. Keep the name the way it is or rename it back to the Masonic Temple. Both are equally fine by me.
Kelly B June 26, 2012 at 12:17 AM
As the previous person stated he spent his life improving our city... wasn't that his job. Let's showcase our cities name, not our politicians.
Sue Czarnecki June 27, 2012 at 09:35 PM
He gets how many city, county, state checks per month. Money should be appreciation enough.
Fed Up August 15, 2012 at 07:20 PM
How about we name it after all the bankrupted businesses he helped close down with his liberal ajenda of tax and waste. We have at least 100 closed shops, a bloated government workforce with cops and firemen each receiving $140,000 a year in pay and benefits, teachers making 120,000 a year for 945 hours worked... Is it any wonder Wyandotte is looking more like Detroit every year?


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