By Jerry LaMartina
The new shelter at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park was on its way to an official name at Tuesday night’s Lenexa City Council meeting, but in this case, a shelter by any other name might smell sweeter.
Parks and Recreation Director Gary Ristow made a presentation to the council seeking approval of a resolution to name the new shelter the Grand Pavilion. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board had voted unanimously for the name at its Feb. 14 meeting.
But Ward 2 Councilman Bill Nicks said at Tuesday’s meeting that the council could do better. His fellow councilmembers agreed, and the council voted unanimously to return the matter to the parks board for reconsideration.
“When we have an opportunity to name things, I think we should tell a story or honor somebody with the character traits that we want emulated,” Nicks said.
Nicks is well versed in Lenexa’s history. He is the Grinter Place site administrator for the Kansas Historical Society, and he performs four first-person historical reenactments and conducts historical bus tours to Abilene and Lawrence, and around Kansas City, through his company, HistoryKC.com.
He portrays Octave Chanute in a short video on the city’s website describing Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park’s history. According to it, the 53-acre park at 87th and Lackman Road was assembled in three acquisitions spanning 10 years starting in 1974.
The first 20 acres acquired were the easternmost part of the park and were originally called Indian Trails Park. The westernmost 13 acres were then acquired and called Sar-Ko-Par Park. The middle 20 acres were later acquired, and the 53 acres were renamed Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park.
Sar-Ko-Par was a Creek Indian warrior who served in the U.S. military during the Creek War of 1836. He died in 1849. The parkland became part of 160 acres that President Abraham Lincoln deeded to Sar-Ko-Par’s heirs in 1862 in payment for his military service.
The new, 5,200-square-foot shelter is the sixth in Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park and the largest in Lenexa’s park system. It is part of a project at the park that also includes replacement of the Lions shelter and park restroom, renovation of the 125th shelter, addition of a parking lot and trails, and replacement of a service drive, Ristow said.
According to a Tuesday memo from Ristow to the council, the shelter is expected to be available for reservation starting May 1. It is built of materials similar to those used in standard shelters and restrooms, including limestone, cast stone, metal supports, tongue-and-groove decking, standing seam roofing and up lighting.
It will have seating for 224 people, and its adjoining deck will provide vantage points to Rose’s Pond and the park’s west side.