Council votes against MLK street renaming proposal

Mar. 17, 2014 @ 10:57 PM

A proposal to change the name of Green Drive to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. drew a crowd to City Council chambers Monday - and a negative vote from council.
The council heard from speakers for and against the idea of changing the name of the road to Martin Luther King Boulevard.
A motion to change the name of Green Drive failed by a 5-4 vote. Council members Jeff Golden, Foster Douglas and Jay Wagner along with Mayor Bernita Sims voted in favor of the motion. Council members Jim Davis, Jason Ewing, Britt Moore, Judy Mendenhall and Becky Smothers voted against the measure.
Prior to the vote, a number of people commented for and against the proposal.
“I know you wanted to hear from Green residents, but this issue affects the entire High Point community,” said the Rev. Frank Thomas, president of the Ministers Conference of High Point and vicinity.
Demetrius Gooden of High Point, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s High Point branch said he supports a renaming.
“A vote for changing the name would be viewed as a vote for inclusion within the community,” he said.
Others argued that a renaming would enhance the city’s image.
“If we’re going to be known across this entire world as the Furniture Capital of the World, we have over 700 cities that have already named a street for this man who gave his life,” said Skip Alston, a former Guilford County commissioner from Greensboro. “If we were to name a street to honor his name, what would that say to the diversity of this city? That we see it fitting to honor a man known all across this world as a peacemaker.”
Ray Landon of High Point said the city will incur expenses to change street signs and property owners will be inconvenienced to change their addresses.
Paul Siceloff of High Point spoke in support as an owner of commercial rental property on W. Green Drive that is occupied by two businesses.
“I feel like it’s a long overdue opportunity facing High Point and I’m just saddened it hasn’t happened before now,” he said.
Even if council votes to change the name of the road, more action by the city would be required to make it official. The city’s Planning & Zoning Commission has final authority on street name changes.