What’s in a name? Safford to consider 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 — The Safford City Council told staff to come up with a concrete plan for the naming of buildings, parks and other municipal amenities.

The issue came before the council on Monday during a work session. Staff was seeking direction on whether naming should be for a deceased person and how long after the person has died should a naming be considered, as well as under what instances should the City Council become involved?

Councilman Brad Hemphill said he’s not in favor of naming buildings and parks only after people who have died.

“I know the . . . argument for that, but it seems, often times, it’d be a bit of would be a shame to not honor somebody while they’re able to enjoy it,” Hemphill said, adding that he’d like to see names given to existing facilities such as the library.

Safford’s Firth Park is named for Charles Firth, a World War I veteran who served on the Safford City Council and was the director of the Chamber of Commerce.

Other facilities in Safford bearing citizens’ names were the decision of other governing bodies, such as Ed Ragland basketball courts at Safford Middle School; Dorothy Stinson, Lafe Nelson and Ruth Powell schools; and the David M. Player Center for the Arts at Safford High School; all named by the Safford Unified School District’s governing board.

And the stage at the historic Safford Theatre will be named for Charlie Hemphill, Brad’s father, as decided by the Safford Downtown Association.

City Manager John Cassella said the Parks and Recreation Committee can be tasked with recommending names for parks and bring that to the council for final approval. He also said when code is brought forward for council action, it would also include policy on the selling of naming rights.