East Lansing Has No Parks Named after Women

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 7:22 am
Alice Dreger

Above: The sculpture named after Mary Sharp, outside East Lansing’s City Hall.

A Freedom of Information Act request made to East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks has confirmed that there are no parks named after girls or women in East Lansing.

The current City Council has so far voted unanimously to name two parks. In 2015, the small green space at the northeast corner of Abbot Road and Albert Avenue (next to Black Cat Bistro) was formally designated a park and then this past June was named after William B. Sharp. That recommendation came from Mayor Mark Meadows, who had been a friend of Sharp.

Earlier this month, Council voted to rename the park under the water tower in Shaw Estates after Gordon Guyer, longtime resident of Shaw Estates and president of MSU for one year. That naming recommendation originated with Jill Young and Kary Devereaux, neighbors of Guyer.

This continues the unbroken record of all East Lansing parks that have been named after someone having been named after boys or men. (Newcomers to town often assume Patriarche Park was named after the patriarchs of East Lansing, but it was in fact named after John M. Patriarche.)

The three public school buildings in East Lansing that were named after someone (Hannah, Bailey, and MacDonald) were also all named after men.

In 2013, East Lansing’s City Council suspended the rule of naming public spaces only after deceased individuals in order to name East Lansing’s soccer stadium after Nick Archer, long-time coach of East Lansing High School’s boys’ soccer team.

Asked about this pattern, City Manager George Lahanas has noted that the large red sculpture outside of City Hall is named after Mary P. Sharp. According to the City website, Sharp “was a trailblazer who passionately advocated for equality and civil rights for all people.”

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