Wichita city council delays vote on renaming McAdams Rec Center after former Mayor Carl Brewer
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita City Council members delayed a vote to rename the McAdams Rec Center after former Mayor Carl Brewer.
Concerned community members who spoke up during Tuesday’s meeting wanted to make sure that the legacy of Emerson McAdams, for whom the park is currently named for would remain. Council members clarified that the naming would only apply to the rec center.
The measure came as a surprise to Brewer’s family. Brewer’s widow, Cathy Brewer, went before the council and asked for more time to discuss the measure with her family. She said she didn’t want to take anything away from Mcadams and his contributions.
“What I would ask the council, can we please hold off on this, until the family gets the chance to discuss it more? Because I don’t want to cause any problems with the community. You know, even if it’s just a rec center,” said Cathy Brewer.
McAdams Park is located in northeast Wichita, in the city’s first district. In 1966, it was renamed in honor of Emerson McAdams, a long-time recreation employee. District I councilman Brandon Johnson said that history would not be forgotten or overlooked.
“The name McAdams is the glue that holds everything together from all the courses that you saw, the swimming pool. And in this facility, we’ll actually tell the story of Emerson McAdams. Right now, you can’t find that anywhere at the park,” said Johnson. “So, we want to highlight who Emerson McAdams was and his contributions but also honor the first elected African American mayor, Carl Brewer. And, some of the conversations that he and I had about that rec center and wanting to do some big things, and now, we have that opportunity.”
Several areas around McAdams Park recognize individuals in the community who helped to shape the park and the city of Wichita, including the Robert “Bob” Thurman baseball field, the Charles “Goose” Doughty Jr. Tennis facility, Antione Carr basketball courts, the Barry Sanders football field and the McAfee swimming pool.
Johnson said renaming the rec center would come with a contribution from Fidelity Bank, a $7.9 million renovation, an expansion of up to 25,000 square feet, an industrial kitchen to honor Brewer who loved to barbecue, programming and opportunities to learn about the former mayor, and the opportunity to work with the Wichita State Innovation Campus and USD 259.
Councilman Jeff Blubaugh, the only sitting member work with the former mayor, said he has pushed for things to be renamed for Brewer, but he said he wants it done right.
“I want to make sure that whatever we name after former Mayor Brewer is completely...I just take this task very importantly and want to make sure it’s supported by the family, supported by the community and make sure we make the right move here,” Blubaugh said.
The council voted to defer the renaming for 30 days. It will revisit the issue at its next meeting on Sept. 21.
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