Fox Chase residents fight for Dan Sweeney memorial

Dan Sweeney
Dan Sweeney was killed in the line of duty as a firefighter a year ago this month.

Fox Chase may find space on the neighborhood playground for both of its departed sons’ names.

One of the five diamonds at the lower fields of Fox Chase Playground in the Northeast Philly neighborhood will be dedicated to Dan Sweeney on June 23.

April 9 is the one-year anniversary of Sweeney’s death. He and Lt. Robert Neary were killed after a wall collapsed at a Kensington fire last year.

Fox Chase residents knew there was a precedent of naming city recreation centers after officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

“And we just thought it would be a way to honor our neighborhood hero,” said Bob McHugh, whose lobbied for the renaming. “That was our goal: to keep his name alive in the neighborhood. And honor him for his sacrifice.”

Unfortunately, not everyone was on board.

The original plan was to rename the entire lower field complex, which consists of five fields, in Danny’s name. Opposition grew. Some claimed the memorial would dilute the Eddie Polec memorial.

Polec was murdered on the steps of St. Cecilia’s Church in 1993. The bruise-colored rec center was named in his honor in 1995.

Some residents cried, “What next?”

Change the name of the library? The school? The neighborhood?

People tore Sweeney Field fliers. They stole signed petitions.

“They used Eddie Polec as an excuse,” McHugh said, “And used other people that have died as an excuse. … They didn’t necessarily want it named for anybody else, but they didn’t want it changed.”

McHugh said a long-time rec employee was asked to help. McHugh was told, “Hey, if you’re getting fields named, how about getting Field 1 named for me. I raked and worked on that field for years and if it should be named for anybody, it should be named for me.”

Another person said: “Do you know how many years I sold hot dogs in the snack stand? Why don’t they name a field for me?”

Mrs. Sweeney sold hot dogs. Mr. Sweeney coached. Danny played.

“This is a slap in the face,” McHugh said.

Diamond at Fox Chase rec center
Diamond at Fox Chase rec center

An online petition at Change.org against Sweeney Field has about 150 signatures. A petition in favor of the honor garnered the maximum of 2,500.

Bill Gault, president of Fire Fighters Local 22, said any honor to Sweeney has the union’s full support.

“We do not wish to engage in any neighborhood debates about the best location for a memorial,” he said in an email. “We wish only to see that it happens so that Daniel and his family are appropriately honored.”

It’s simple: a scoreboard or a plaque featuring Danny’s name.

“How tough would that be?” McHugh said.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers favors letting the community decide on the best course of action.

“We have a lot of people in the community that was for renaming the field. And as I understand it, I heard there was some folks that really didn’t want to rename it. It’s really got to be up to the community,” he said.

“I believe that the community has the right to make the decisions and if we stop and look at the community, and look at the involvement, I think then the democratic process has to prevail.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

Local

Leech therapy: Bloodsuckers in Brooklyn

The Old-World practice of leech therapy makes a comeback in New York.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.