Archive for Monday, June 4, 2012

City to consider whether to name park after former Lawrence fire chief

June 4, 2012


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.


jackpot 6 years ago

Chad: can you clear this up? Last Tuesday or tomorrow? "Attempts to reach Rachel McSwain on Tuesday weren’t successful."

alex_garrison 6 years ago

We're updated the story — it should have said "Monday," not Tuesday.


jackpot 6 years ago

Thanks, it just didn't read right to me.

brewmaster 6 years ago

A street was named after a football coach with a losing record and questionable activity by his under-coaches during his tenure; not to mention representing KU by behaving (for decades) like an immature, juvenile brat towards another conference team. So, surely the city could name a park after a former fire chief.

Taxpayer 6 years ago

I'm all for naming the park after someone connected with the Lawrence Fire Department. Another consideration for the committee should be a firefighter who died in the line of duty in 1986, Mark Blair.

mdab1609 6 years ago

Good idea to consider Mark Blair!

Chad Collins 6 years ago

They named a street after Mark Blair.

lily 6 years ago

I can see naming it after either Chief McSwain or Firefighter Blair. Maybe it should be Fireman's Park in Honor Of or In Memory Of with names? That way it could serve to honor many.

Katara 6 years ago

Name it Blair McSwain Headley Memorial Park

ScottyMac 6 years ago

Here are a local man and woman on a really long bike ride. Pretty cool, no?

ScottyMac 6 years ago

Um... The above link was posted to a different story... Dunno why it's here.

2002 6 years ago

Bad idea. Name something at the fire station or maybe a fire station for him, not a park. I have nothing against the guy, but there are a lot of great Lawrence residents of the past that have nothing named for them. Naming a fire station for him has a better tie in anyway.

Of course, the is a City where they have a trail and lineal park named after a murderer, so maybe the standard is pretty low.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

How about naming a park after a local hard working USD 497 janitor? Someone most of us never heard of yet still deserves recognition.

Chad Collins 6 years ago

The guy served as Fire Chief for 27 years. He was a great civil servant and even better human being. Naming a park after him is a fantastic idea. To make light of it or suggest other things is unnecessary. It's a well deserved honor that should be taken seriously.

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