carl brewer
carl brewer

The Wichita City Council postponed a vote to rename McAdams Recreation Center after  former Mayor Carl Brewer.  The recreation center is set for redesign and expansion in 2022-23 and some community members thought renaming the center for Brewer, as part of the center’s upgrade, would be a great way to honor the late mayor.  

The renaming, on the Council’s August 24 agenda, was meant as a surprise to the Brewer family.  But the renaming was postponed for 30 days at the request of the family.  

Vice-Mayor Brandon Johnson was firmly behind the renaming.  

“Once we confirmed that that  [the center redesign]was a real opportunity, my first thought was, ‘if we get a brand new rec center or a renovated one, we should name it after Mayor Brewer,’” said Johnson. “The only other options were buildings that existed already and were named. This project is something brand new, and that’s how you recognize somebody, especially somebody substantial, like Brewer.”

Based on comments on The Community Voice Facebook page, community support for the renaming was mixed, with a lot of support for maintaining the recognition of Emerson McAdams,  In t1966, the park was renamed in honor of McAdams, the park’s long-term recreation center manager.   

What is the point of giving up one for another? Both men made significant contributions to society. Perhaps consider repurposing the old library downtown in his honor.  Jahn Johnson

No‼ for the reason McAdams Recreation and park will always be called McAdams. Cherish the name McAdams Park and Recreation. Reachelle Griffin Vernon

It’s a great gesture.  T La Mont Holder

McAdams is McAdams, we need something special to be named for him.Toni Love

At the council meeting, several community members spoke against the renaming and supported preserving the legacy of McAdams.Brewer’s widow Cathy Brewer requested more time to discuss the matter with family and out of respect for the community.

“What I would ask the council, can we please hold off on this until the family gets the chance to discuss it more? Because I don’t want to cause any problems with the community. You know, even if it’s just a rec center,” said Brewer.

While the park is named McAdams, several facilities in the park are named after community standouts, including the Antione Carr basketball courts, the Barry Sanders football field, and the McAfee swimming pool.

Johnson explained to the council that the renaming wouldn’t wipe out the history of McAdams.  

“The name McAdams is the glue that holds everything together. We want to highlight who Emerson McAdams was and his contributions and honor the first elected African American mayor, Carl Brewer. Some of the conversations that he and I had about that rec center and wanting to do some big things, and now, we have that opportunity,” said Johnson.

A Wichita native, Brewer served from 2007 to 2015 as the City’s first elected Black mayor. He also spent six years as a member of the city council. He was a key figure in shaping Wichita during those years, including downtown revitalization, the development of the Wichita Eisenhower National Airport terminal, and laying the groundwork for the new Advanced Learning Library.  He died in 2020 at age 63.

Councilman Jeff Blubaugh, the only sitting member who worked with Mayor Brewer, said he wants it done right.

“I just take this task very important and want to make sure it’s supported by the family, supported by the community, and make sure we make the right move here,” Blubaugh said.

The council decided to postpone the renaming for 30 days. It will discuss the proposal at its next meeting on September 21.

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