MLK renaming idea resurfaces
An idea that generated lengthy and, at times, heated public debate in High Point in years past has resurfaced.
The possibility of renaming a city street in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. drew criticism from some residents and business owners who spoke to the City Council Monday.
Mayor Bernita Sims has indicated that she supports the idea of a renaming in honor of King, although no proposals involving specific streets have been put forth.
There have been several unsuccessful bids to rename a High Point street for King over the past 20 years, most recently in 2001, when the Planning & Zoning Commission rejected a proposal that would have changed the name of a portion of College Drive.
The city in 1994 designated E. Kivett Drive “Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Drive.” Kivett Drive, Centennial Street and U.S. 311 have been the subjects of past renaming proposals.
“Forcing both residents and businesses to incur the expenses in changing their street name is not wise during this period of economic uncertainty,” said local businessman Sanders Dallas III, whose family owns a building on Kivett. “For businesses on Kivett or English, this could involve expenses related to changes in office supplies, catalogues, advertisements and packaging.”
Other speakers voiced opposition to the city using tax dollars to research and/or implement the idea. Some argued that the property owners who might be affected by a renaming should be in accord with the idea.
“I think the timing for this is terrible,” said Herman Hunter Jr. “Any businesses on that street that are being renamed are going to be responsible for all their updating. Some people are barely hanging on by their teeth there. If the economy was booming, it would not be as big an issue. I’d like to see the money and energy spent going toward bringing business to High Point and filling a lot of the empty buildings that you see all over this city.”
Pam Stern said the council should focus on improving the city’s economy and not pursue a renaming.
“We don’t have the money. That’s the main thing,” said Stern. “I think he was a great man too, but he’s got his own day, and we’ve got signs up. I think we need to quit while we’re ahead and not spend any more money on the planners or the signs.”
David Brauns, who said he works in the medical field, said the impact of a renaming could be harsh for medical facilities.
“As a member of the medical community of High Point, the expenses you are going to put us under are outrageous,” he said. ”It’s going to cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 to redo my licenses, redo my Medicare and my Medicaid billables. Every pharmacy, every dentist, every doctor that has any kind of Medicare or Medicaid aspect that they get their billables through, such as myself, will be affected by this.”
Sims said she’s sensitive to these concerns, as well as the potential impact on families for whom streets were originally named. She said this will be taken into account along with other information in how the council deals with this issue.
“There are communities all around us that have streets that have been renamed. And, while they have moved forward without it even being a blip on the radar screen, every time this issue comes up in this community, it causes a lot of conversation,” she said.