The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District’s WP-5 reservoir project now has a name.
The Papillion City Council voted to name the largest lake and the surrounding space Prairie Queen Recreation Area on Feb. 18.
The name commemorates a one-room country schoolhouse that stood on the site from 1884 to 1957. The building remained in use and served as Papillion Grange Hall until 2002 when Highway 370 was expanded.
Members of the Public Facilities Committee received input on the naming from the Sarpy County Museum and the Papillion Area Historical Society.
“They were thinking of historical names that didn’t focus on individuals, ideally more geographic that tied in with history,” said Ben Justman, executive director of the Sarpy County Museum.
Justman said he worked with Deb Allard of the Papillion Area Historical Society to find a name. They looked through old maps and newspapers, and got input from volunteers.
“All things pointed to Prairie Queen, which was the number one choice,” Justman said.
Another name that was considered was MOPAC Lake, after the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Prairie Queen Recreation Area will be a site for residents and visitors to walk, fish and picnic along trails.
The 135-acre lake will also provide flood control of the west branch of the Papillion Creek.
Construction, which is on schedule, will be completed in June, said Amanda Grint, project manager.
This spring, the dam will be filled with water, and trails and recreation features will be finished, Grint said.
The area was the first to be named after the Papillion City Council approved a policy regarding the naming or renaming of city parks and recreation areas on Dec. 17.
The policy states that the city will consider historical naming or geographical naming, rather than considering the names of living people. All naming recognition must be consistent with the city’s mission and role as a public trust.
The policy also applies to parks and recreational areas outside of city limits but falling within the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction. It does not apply to city services facilities, the naming of streets, programs or events, or minor items such as benches, trees and flagpoles.
Existing names will only be changed in extreme cases and they won’t be changed without considering the historical significance of the existing name and the impact of rebuilding community recognition.
Two more lakes on the site, one west of 114th Street and the other north and east of 108th Street, will be named at a later date.
The Parks Department, Public Facilities Committee and City Council will all be involved in the naming process.
“I think it’s great,” Justman said. “They could have given it just another generic name. I think it’s really fantastic that the City of Papillion has realized the history of Papillion and Sarpy County is important and at the very least we should draw upon that for the future.”