Thursday, April 21, 2005

‘Freedom Park’ to be proposed as name

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (April 21, 2005): The Scarborough Town Council was expected to hear a recommendation that the new town park on the old drive-in property be named "Freedom Park" at its meeting Wednesday night, after the Current’s deadline.

Jack Cowie III, chairman of the Community Services and Recreation Advisory Board, was to make the recommendation at the meeting. The recommendation was also to include the concept that other elements of the park, including the gazebo and a walking trail, be given specific names in honor of prominent citizens or local history.

And Cowie told the Current Tuesday he would suggest to councilors that the park be “an unscheduled open space” whose fields are available on a first-come, first-served basis to the general public, without a reservation.

That would allow people to have a place for outdoor recreation, without running into the problem of “youth sports or adult rental occupying 100 percent of the space 100 percent of the time,” Cowie said.

“Right now it’s all about prescribed, organized sports,” he said. The multi-purpose field, which will be ready to be played on this fall, is now slated to be used for various Community Services programs and to be available for travel teams and adult leagues to reserve on a regular basis, Cowie said.

But that means other community groups, and private citizens, are kept off the fields, which is a problem for some members of the board, he said.

The park name was the subject of some study, including solicitations to the public for suggestions. Some names that resulted were "Underhill Farm," suggested by the Historical Society, and "Owascoag," a Native American word meaning “place of much grass.”

Cowie said he ruled out "Owascoag" because he didn’t want to “stir the pot” of political correctness, which was last hot when the Scarborough High School team name was changed from Redskins to Red Storm.

And because the family that owned Underhill Farm, which was on the land where the park now sits, had not donated the land to the town, he decided not to choose that name, either.

The board voted, and the top vote-getter was "Veterans Park," followed by "Memorial Park," "Oak Hill Park," "Community Park" and then "Freedom Park" in fifth place, Cowie said.

But Freedom Park had “what I felt was the most compelling support statement,” that “in the aftermath of 9/11 we have a lot to be grateful for.”

While Veterans Park would commemorate the sacrifices of members of the military, after 9/11 people are more appreciative of “everybody who serves in public service,” notably police, firefighters and ambulance workers.

“Freedom Park would allow support and recognition of everybody, including veterans,” Cowie said.

He said the board also wanted to provide opportunities to give names to “sub-elements of the park, like the walking trail that goes around it, (and) the gazebo.” He said Underhill could be a name used for one of those items, and something else could be named in memory of Clifford “Kippy” Mitchell, a longtime town employee and volunteer who died recently.