Lake Calhoun name change: Park Board powerless

John C. Calhoun, senator, statesman, slavery proponent.

John C. Calhoun, senator, statesman, slavery proponent.

The Minneapolis Park Board doesn't have the power to rename Lake Calhoun even if it wants to, according to a letter filed by the agency's attorney, Brian Rice.

In fact, it's not clear that anyone can change the lake's name.

Minnesota's commissioner of natural resources might have been able to do something about the city lake named after an iconic senator, statesman and slavery proponent, but such power expires 40 years after a lake is originally named, Rice advised the board.


Rice looked into the matter after Minneapolis resident John Winters, appalled at John C. Calhoun's racism, requested the lake be renamed to honor Hubert H. Humphrey instead.

As Lake Calhoun was originally designated under the authority of the federal government and the name has existed for more than 40 years, I can see no means by which under existing law the name change proposed by Mr. Winter can be accomplished.

Winters is undeterred. He may start a drive to put the proposed name change on a city-wide ballot in the 2012 election.


Here's the Rice letter to the Park Board:

MPLS Park Board Lake Calhoun Name Change