• Leaders with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department are set to forward a recommendation to city commissioners to use the park at 19th Street and Haskell Avenue to remember area firefighters.
The park currently doesn’t have a name but rather is just a bit of an open field with some playground equipment and a basketball goal.
But the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is now recommending it be named Firefighters Remembrance Park. The idea came from Rachel McSwain, the widow of longtime Lawrence fire chief Jim McSwain.
The park is adjacent to the city’s firefighting training facility. Rachel McSwain said current Lawrence fire chief Mark Bradford had mentioned the idea to her at McSwain’s funeral in 2008.
The plan is that the park would have a plaque recognizing McSwain and his contributions to the city after serving 27 years as the city’s fire chief.
But in addition, other people will be allowed to make donations to the parks department to sponsor benches, trees or other park amenities in memory or recognition of firefighters. Each donation likely would come with its own plaque naming the firefighters being honored.
Parks leaders are finalizing some of those types of details and then plan to forward the recommendation for final approval by city commissioners.
Originally, Rachel McSwain and her family had suggested naming the park after the fire chief. Parks and Recreation officials, however, pitched this broader idea to the family. When the city’s parks board recently gave its recommendation, a tearful McSwain said she was “thrilled” with the idea.
“All of the McSwain family has been very supportive of the idea,” Rachel said. “It is going to be great.”
• Soon, Lawrence grocery stores will cook the food and spoon-feed it to you. That’s how competitive the Lawrence grocery market seemingly has become. (Maybe they will start making the little airplane noises with the spoon. I love that.)
If you don’t believe me, just think about the millions of dollars Lawrence grocers have spent in the last few years to entice you to their stores. There is the new Dillons on Massachusetts Street, the expanded and remodeled Hy-Vee on Clinton Parkway, the expansion of Dillons at Sixth and Wakarusa, a brand new grocery with the Walmart at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive and almost every store in town — from Checkers to the other Dillons and Hy-Vee locations — have made smaller improvements to spiff up the interiors.
Well, there is another million-dollar project on the way. Officials at Dillons have filed plans at City Hall to add a drive-thru pharmacy at its 3000 W. Sixth St. store, which is the one near Lawrence Avenue.
I haven’t yet seen the full set of plans submitted to City Hall, so I’m a little short on details at the moment. But the company is seeking to do $1.36 million worth of work at the location. The application states the company will add a drive-up pharmacy window with a canopy, will restripe a portion of the parking lot and will include new landscaping for the site.
But the application also makes mention of other “interior building renovations.”
The project, however, does not propose enlarging the grocery store building. The plans call for the building to remain at 60,151 square feet. (A quick side note: I’ve had some people ask me how much smaller the new Dillons on Mass. Street is to other Dillons stores. Well, the Dillons on Mass. is about 45,000 square feet, and I just told you this store is 60,151 square feet.)
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