In the early 1970s, then-Mayor Lloyd Stromgren began calling for a plan for the 640-acre area that was once part of a U.S. Army land claim platted in 1850. Stromgren told architect Mat Thompson, chairman of the Chamber's Civic Betterment Committee, that development pressure on this property had never been more intense. He wanted Thompson to help in finding an appropriate way to preserve that large amount of open space near the heart of Vancouver.
Thompson died Sept. 10.
Being a member of American Institute of Architects, Thompson knew of a service that group provided, a Rural/Urban Design Team. It involved experts in several fields coming to our city for an intensive weekend of information gathering and recommendations.
The RUDAT members came from New York, Los Angeles and several other locales to provide their services. It was invaluable in guiding us locals in formulating a preferred alternative. The citizen group Thompson convened did the preparatory work and wrestled with naming the area.
The name chosen was Vancouver Central Park.
The city council accepted the 1979 master plan recommendation to maintain the open space. The slogan that Thompson and Stromgren used to mobilize local citizens was "A Place for People." It was and remains just that.
Mat Thompson was a community treasure.