Safford starts process of naming parks, buildings

Firth Park is named for Charles Firth, a former Safford City Councilman and Chamber of Commerce director. - Gila Valley Central Photo

SAFFORD — Safford City Manager John Cassella said he would like the city to take a two-step approach to naming its buildings and parks.

“In the case of the parks, it’s staff recommendation that the Parks and Recreation Committee provide an advisory role in the naming process, and bring their recommendation back to (City) Council for selection approval,” Cassella said. “In the case of the airport and the front lawn area of City Hall, staff recommends that internal staff work with City Council to determine if commemorative naming is appropriate, or if you would like to pursue functional naming for those two areas.”

Cassella made his recommendation during a City Council work session last Monday. The council agreed and directed the Parks and Recreation Committee to begin work on proposing names for the two newest parks under development — the park at 8th Avenue and Discovery Park Boulevard, and the other on El Paso Boulevard.

The Ed Ragland Courts on the grounds of Safford Middle School.
– Gila Valley Central Photo

Safford currently has two facilities named after individuals — Firth Park and the Ragland Basketball Courts.

Firth Park, located between 10th and 11th Avenues, and U.S. Highway 70 and Main Street, is named for Charles Firth, an Army lieutenant who fought in France during World War I. He served as a school teacher, a City Councilman and a Graham County Chamber of Commerce director upon his return home from the war.

The Ragland Basketball Courts, on the grounds of Safford Middle School, are named for Ed Ragland, a former City Councilman and retired teacher. He has run the city’s youth basketball program for more than two decades, and he previously served as a coach for Little League and AYSO Soccer.

The lawn in front of City Hall is currently known as Firemen’s Park, although that name has not yet been made official by a vote of the City Council.

Meanwhile, Safford Regional Airport, which currently carries the FAA designation of SAD (KSAD), was once known as Wickersham Airport. It was named for Ernest Wickersham, a local businessman and avid flyer who was active in the city in the early part of the 20th Century. Wickersham also donated a park to the city — Wickersham Park — that once stood where Safford Builder’s Supply/Ace Hardware is now located.

Ernest Wickersham, left, is joined by Chief Cintotie of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Charlie Mayse for a photo in front of Wickersham’s J-5 Waco in Safford, just before Mayse took off for the Transcontinental Air Tour in 1928.
– Arizona Historical Society Photo