SHERIDAN — After narrowing down a list of more than 200 applications and 102 unique names, Sheridan City Council will vote to approve the suggested name — Black Tooth Park — for the park located on Fifth Street.
“We did a master plan in 2014 that identified some multi-use sports fields among other things,” city of Sheridan operations superintendent Mathers Heuck said.
“The first phase of that project was getting the sports fields ready for fall play, mostly soccer and little guy football.”
Local sports-affiliated groups including the YMCA, Storm Soccer, the city and Sheridan Recreation District came together to plant grass, install an irrigation system and transport mulch from the city’s landfill to help complete the project in time for the fall sports season.
“Naming a park is really an important thing and I think we can all agree that it’s a bit tricky, too,” Heuck told Sheridan City Council. “It’s a community decision, but it needs to be an informed community decision.”
City employees created a group made up of 37 individuals representing the YMCA, Storm Soccer, Sheridan Recreation District, the library, tree board and the Kendrick Park master plan citizens group.
Each member of the group picked five names. Of those, 37 names were chosen and sent to a focus group, which narrowed the list to 10. The list of 10 names returned to eight members of the city’s larger group for review. The group ranked the names with top picks receiving three points, second-choice picks receiving two points and third-place picks receiving one point. The point system revealed the top four choices of the group — Roberts Park, Absaroka Park, Cloud Peak Park and Black Tooth Park.
Don Roberts was one of the developers of the area that is now the park space on Fifth Street. Heuck said when developing a subdivision, part of the ordinance requires the developer to provide open space. The family donated the open space to the city.
“He dedicated it to open space as part of complying with the future development,” said public works director Nic Bateson.
The name Absaroka, meaning “children of the large-beaked bird” in Crow, was almost associated with the 49th state in the United States.
“There were a group of people led by an individual from Sheridan who proclaimed himself as the governor,” Heuck said, relaying history taken from library staff. “The county seat was going to be in Sheridan in 1936, right in the middle of the Depression.”
Heuck said according to an article in The New York Times, the state and its name were going to be fueled by the New Deal but ranchers that wanted to maintain their lifestyle didn’t like the New Deal, so they said they would start their our own state.
The state would have extended west to Jackson, north into Montana and east to South Dakota, with Rapid City serving as the area’s largest city.
While the name Cloud Peak Park finished in the top four, Heuck told the Sheridan City Council that Cloud Peak is not actually visible from the park.
“It turns out, you can’t see Cloud Peak from this park and that’s one of the things the community members thought, ‘Oh, you can see Cloud Peak, it’s prominent,’ so I think that’s why it picked up some traction,” Heuck said.
Bateson added that Buffalo has a clear view of Cloud Peak, but it cannot be seen from Sheridan.
The name Black Tooth Park was the top choice of the citizens group; the park sits in an area of the community where Black Tooth Mountain is visible. Two additional prominent peaks accompany Black Tooth — Innominate Peak to the far left looking north to south and Mt. Woolsey between Innominate and Black Tooth. If council approves the name Monday, the city plans to include an informational sign explaining the park’s name and pointing out its namesake peak.
Councilor Thayer Shafer suggested including a set telescope so visitors could clearly see and identify Black Tooth Mountain while at the park.
Council will vote to approve the resolution naming the park during the Aug. 21 council meeting.