It may not have a shiny brass pole or a loud siren, but an East Lawrence playground could become a favorite for fans of firefighters.
City officials have received a request to name the park at 19th Street and Haskell Avenue after longtime Lawrence fire chief Jim McSwain, who died in December 2008.
The park does not have a name, but is near the fire department’s main training area, which includes a burn tower near the edge of the park. The proximity has caused Parks and Recreation officials to previously think about using the park to recognize the fire service.
“Years ago, we informally had proposed naming it Fireman’s Park or something like that,” said Ernie Shaw, the city’s interim director of Parks and Recreation. “But it never did take off.”
Recently McSwain’s widow, Rachel McSwain, sent a letter seeking to have the park named after her late husband. McSwain died about three years after retiring. He served as the city’s fire chief from 1978 to 2005, and was credited with overseeing a major expansion of fire stations in the city and increased educational programs for fire fighters.
Renaming the park will be a process, Shaw said. The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is expected to receive a presentation from the McSwain family at a board meeting on Tuesday. The board will make a recommendation to the Lawrence City Commission, which will decide whether the park should carry the McSwain name.
Shaw said most of the city’s parks that are named after people are named for individuals who have either donated the property to the city or had a longtime connection with parks and recreation programs or youth activities. But there are some exceptions. Buford Watson Jr. park is named after a former city manager; Robinson Park is named after Charles Robinson, the state’s first governor; John Taylor Park was named in 1962 through a neighborhood contest that chose to honor longtime neighborhood organizer John Taylor.
Shaw said he’s not sure why the park doesn’t have a name. He said there are several parks in the city that do not have official names, although this one has been in that category for a long period of time and is at a visible intersection.
Attempts to reach Rachel McSwain on Monday weren’t successful.