TO: Mayor and Council
FROM: Council Naming Committee
SUBJECT: Report on a Proposal to Rename Airport Road in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
DATE: March 22, 2004
Adoption of the attached resolution would schedule a Public Forum on April 19, 2004, to discuss and receive comments on a proposal to rename Airport Road within Chapel Hill in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Council Naming Committee requests that the Town Council adopt the resolution.
In late 2003, a member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) met informally with the Mayor and requested that the Town Council consider renaming Airport Road in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In January 2004, Council Member Wiggins brought this matter before the Town Council, and the Mayor suggested that the Council Naming Committee evaluate this request and report back with its findings. Council Member Wiggins, an appointed member of the Naming Committee, agreed to provide leadership on this matter and to work with Council Members Greene, Strom, and Ward who are the remaining members of the Naming Committee.
The Committee met to discuss this matter on January 29, 2004, and again on February 20, 2004. Between those meetings, Committee members met informally with representatives of the local NAACP chapter to discuss the renaming request and to confirm their understanding of it.
During January and February, Town staff was in contact with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to confirm whether or not it would be possible to rename Airport Road (also designated as State Highway NC 86) and, if so, to determine the process and procedures that would be necessary to implement a name change.
The Committee investigated several issues associated with the proposed renaming of Airport Road, summarized as follows:
ALTERNATIVE ROADS CONSIDERED – The Committee considered several roads that might be renamed in honor of Dr. King. The roads considered were:
· Airport Road (NC 86) from its southern terminus (at North Street) to the northern Town limits
· A segment of US 15-501/NC 54 Bypass to be determined
· NC 54/Raleigh Road/South Road from the eastern Town limits to South Columbia Street
· Weaver Dairy Road Extension from Airport Road (NC 86) to Homestead Road
· The full length of Estes Drive between Greensboro Street (in Carrboro) to and including Estes Drive Extension east of Fordham Boulevard
The Committee discussed these alternatives with local NAACP representatives, and confirmed that Airport Road is the preferred candidate by both the NAACP and the Committee. The Committee’s second choice for renaming is the NC 54/Raleigh Road/South Road corridor.
It was determined that the entire length of the US 15-501/NC 54 Bypass would not be a viable candidate because it already bears an honorary name, Fordham Boulevard, in honor of UNC Chancellor Christopher Fordham.
COLLABORATION WITH CARRBORO – The Town of Carrboro has expressed interest in joining with Chapel Hill to rename a road that travels through both communities in honor of Dr. King. The Committee did not think that would be practical in this case, since neither the first choice (Airport Road) nor the second choice (NC 54/Raleigh Road/South Road) road selections identified by the NAACP and by the Committee travel through Carrboro.
RENAMING PROCESS/PROCEDURE – The NCDOT provided the Committee with a copy of its standard procedures and requirements for renaming State roadways as honorariums. A copy of the State procedures and requirements is attached, including a memorandum that was sent from Town staff to the Committee highlighting key points of the State renaming process.
Based on review of these documents, the Committee believes that either Airport Road or the NC 54/Raleigh Road/South Road corridor would be a viable candidate for renaming, subject to the approval of the North Carolina Board of Transportation.
OTHER ISSUES - The Committee also considered the following collateral impacts of renaming a street in an urban area such as Chapel Hill:
· All properties that are assigned street addresses on the renamed street would need to change their address on applicable documents and records to correspond with the new street name.
There are approximately 800 street addresses currently assigned on Airport Road, including approximately 700 addresses assigned to rental properties (such as apartments); approximately 100 addresses assigned to business/commercial/church/Town/University properties; and approximately 25 addresses assigned to private and/or owner-occupied properties.
There are approximately 90 street addresses currently assigned on the NC 54/Raleigh Road/South Road corridor, the large majority of which are assigned to business/commercial/University properties.
Once a “change of address card” is filed with the Post Office, mail will be delivered with either the old address or the new address for a period of up to one year.
· There is an existing Martin Luther King, Jr. Street in Chapel Hill that would need to be renamed if Dr. King’s name is used on some other street. Twelve street addresses are currently assigned to the existing Martin Luther King, Jr. Street. This is a local street, and would not require State approval for renaming.
· The estimated cost for changing street name signs on Airport Road is $16,700. The estimated cost for changing street name signs on the NC 54/Raleigh Road/South Road corridor ranges from $8,000 to $17,000 depending on whether or not the existing small street name signs at intersections were replaced with large format signs.
Additional information about naming and renaming initiatives throughout the country in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are attached for reference.
The Council Naming Committee believes that Airport Road is a viable and reasonable candidate for renaming in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as proposed by the local chapter of the NAACP.
The Committee is interested in receiving comments and questions about the proposed renaming of Airport Road, and therefore requests that the Council adopt the attached resolution scheduling a Public Forum on April 19, 2004, to further discuss and to receive citizens’ comments on this issue.
A RESOLUTION SCHEDULING A PUBLIC FORUM ON MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2004, TO DISCUSS AND RECEIVE PUBLIC COMMENT ON A PROPOSAL TO RENAME AIRPORT ROAD IN HONOR OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (2004-03-22/R-11)
WHEREAS, the Council has received a request from the local chapter of the NAACP to consider renaming Airport Road within the Town limits in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and
WHEREAS, the Council Naming Committee has evaluated this request and has determined that Airport Road could be renamed in honor of Dr. King according to State procedures established for renaming State roads; and
WHEREAS, the Council is interested in further discussion of this issue and in receiving public comment on the proposed renaming of Airport Road;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the Council herewith schedules a Public Forum at 7:00 pm on Monday, April 19, 2004, to discuss and to receive public comment on the proposed renaming of Airport Road in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This the 22nd day of March, 2004.