Timeline of City Council presentations

City Council Hearing, February 12, 2013.

Comments from The public.

Summary of speakers from City Council Minutes:

Karen Thomas requested Vine Street be renamed to Dr. Martin Luther King Street.

Stan Maclin, Downtown Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, requested a dominant street, if not Vine Street, be named after Dr. Martin Luther King. Mr. Maclin stated 700 cities across America have streets named after Dr. King and encouraged Council to consider this request.

Carlos Soriano, member of Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, also requested a street to be named after Dr. Martin Luther King within the City of Harrisonburg.

Brian Martin-Burkholder, , stated Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) partnered with NENA and the United Way of Harrisonburg and came up with a new way to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Day with a day of service and learning. Mr. Martin-Burkholder would like to continue bringing awareness to Dr. King by renaming a dominant street in the City after him.

City Council Hearing, February 26, 2013.

Comments from the public.

Summary of speakers from City Council Minutes:

Mohammed Hijjeh, , stated he supported the current Vine Street be changed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street as proposed at the previous meeting.

City Council Hearing, March 12, 2013.

Comments from the public.

Summary of speakers from City Council Minutes:

Emily, , stated she supported renaming a street after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Elizabeth Castillo, , also supported renaming a street after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


The testimony for the street naming were heard by a large sympathetic audience gathered to give input on business gardens, a proposal brought forward with strong support by the community. The business gardening proposal had encountered significant barriers due to a purported large silent group of opponents who were concerned about 'residential character' which appeared to be a code word for intolerance toward diversity. In the subsequent season, many homes in the area grew sunflowers as a sign of solidarity, referring to remarks from this hearing calling sunflowers 'an abomination against what mother nature does.'

City Council Hearing, March 26, 2013.

Comments from the public.

Summary of speakers from City Council Minutes:

Fred Gibson, , stated he was in favor of renaming a street after Dr. Martin Luther King. Mr. Gibson stated that he and Martin had gone to seminary school in Pennsylvania together. Mr. Gibson stated that he would love to see all who live in Harrisonburg be reminded of the courageous, peaceful revolutionist who "walked his talk" and gave his life for freedom.

City Council Hearing, April 9, 2013.

Comments from the public, Other matters.

Summary of speakers from City Council Minutes:

Rev. Daniel Robayo, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, stated he was in support of changing Cantrell Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street. Elaine Blakey, , stated she would like a street named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ms. Blakey stated she researched the bridges that could possibly be named after him, but she feels a lot of work would have to be done to make them look attractive.

Karen Thomas, Northeast Neighborhood Association, stated discussion for naming a street after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began in November and brought before Council in February and asked Council to put it on the agenda.

Stan Maclin, Downtown Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, stated when the request was originally made in February, it was not a black request but an American request. Mr. Maclin stated symbols are important and referred to the Lucy Simms Center. Mr. Maclin encouraged Council to seriously think about renaming a street or another respectful entity after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Under other matters:
Council discussed the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street or entity request. Brief discussion happened on the following: if Council decides to rename a street a public hearing would be required prior to the vote of Council; if a bridge or other entity would be named after Dr. MLK, no public hearing would have to be held; staff is seeking guidance from Council on how to move forward; both Cantrell and Vine Street had previously been reviewed; meeting to be held with interested parties about the request at hand. City Attorney Brown reminded Council that if three or members of Council would be in attending, a notification has to be provided to the public.

City Council Hearing, April 23, 2013.

Budget hearing, not directly related.

Summary of speakers from City Council Minutes:

In the hearing for the PROPOSED BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 2014, the following people who eventually served on the renaming taskforce came forward.

Karen Thomas, , asked Council to consider adding a Neighborhood Service Coordinator (part-time at first) that would serve as liaison between the City Council and neighborhoods to help locate resources, planning, revitalization efforts, public safety, code enforcement, and other projects.

Kishia Tutt, , stated the supported the financial support that had been recommended towards Second Home.

A number of people turned out to speak for green energy measures.

City Council Hearing, June 11, 2013.

Comments from the public.

Summary of speakers from City Council Minutes:

Carl Stauffer, 1020 James Place, stated he was in favor of renaming a street after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and feels that street names are symbols and sends a strong message. Mr. Stauffer hopes the recommendations that come from the taskforce alleviate inconvenience issues and concerns that citizens may have.

Josh Dye, Harrisonburg resident, encouraged Council to support Cantrell Avenue be renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Street. Mr. Dye stated Martin Luther King, Jr. created national legislation that did impact on the City of Harrisonburg. Mr. Dye stated that the Harrisonburg of today is multi-racial and he would like to be able to point to a sign to be able to say that they are represented and not only the identities of the past.

City Council Hearing, June 25, 2013.

Report to Council from Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force.

Summary of speakers from Council Minutes:

Council Member Shearer provided background to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force that began with a formal request to Council in February 2013. Council Member Shearer stated the group received several recommendations such as parks, building, bridges, and many more to be renamed or named after MLK, Jr. Council Member Shearer stated the group met several times beginning in April and those opposed to renaming Cantrell Avenue were in favor of naming or renaming something after MLK, Jr.

Steve Reich, , began with the history of James Madison University in 1938 when it was renamed Madison College. Mr. Reich stated many residents of Harrisonburg objected because they feared removing the name Harrisonburg from the college's title and they felt James Madison had no meaningful connection to Harrisonburg, or higher level education. Mr. Reich stated that President Duke argued that the name would honor the Father of the Constitution, the principal author of the Bill of Rights, the nation's fourth President, honor one of Virginia's great Statesman, and Madison's support of higher education and teacher training. Mr. Reich stated 20 years prior, when the United States went to war, German Street was renamed Liberty Street in the City of Harrisonburg. Through this act, the City connected one of the public spaces to the ideals of President Wilson. Mr. Reich stated the Task Force requests that Council reflect on the City's history and consider renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Mr. Reich stated by renaming Cantrell Avenue, the City would commemorate the Civil Rights movement and the ideals King advocated. Mr. Reich stated the City has an opportunity to separate itself from other localities by naming a centralized street after MLK, Jr. Mr. Reich stated there are 4% of localities that have named streets after MLK, Jr. and most are located in black communities which doesn't challenge the segregation mindset. Mr. Reich stated by renaming the City's central arteries, it will place King in a prominent public place and would remind us that King was more than a Civil Rights leader and his legacy is important to us all and not just to African Americans. Mr. Reich stated that the origin of why Cantrell Avenue was named in 1907 is untraceable. Mr. Reich stated the group is aware of the expenses that the renaming will cause, but hopes Council reflects on the social and political benefits rather than the economic costs. Mr. Reich stated it shows the City's commitment to integration, support of all citizens, opens possibilities for actions on other social and economic issues, public visibility, and legitimacy to the profound moment to our society. Mr. Reich provided several ways King impacts our lives every day with the following examples: every time a kid enters a school; riding public bus; using Parks and Recreation facilities; every time a citizen casts a vote; every time a resident comes to speak at Council. Mr. Reich stated those who have said let's wait for a future amenity reminded him of the letter King wrote from Birmingham Jail when those who objected to the expansion of Civil Rights consistently asked African Americans to wait for some other convenient time. Mr. Reich stated Main Street connects Liberty Street to James Madison which is a symbol that we all hold as our highest ideals and aspirations and would cross King, a public reminder of the struggle to achieve those ideals. Vice-Mayor Chenault asked if the Task Force had any other recommendations. Mr. Reich confirmed that the Task Force's only recommendation is changing Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

Vice-Mayor Chenault offered a motion to hold a public hearing at the first meeting in July for not only the Task Force's recommendation, but the naming of either a street, structure, or any other appropriate possibilities. The motion was seconded by Council Member Baugh and approved with a unanimous voice vote by all Council Members present.

City Council Hearing, July 9, 2013.

Comments from the public.

Summary of speakers from Council Minutes:

Panayotis Giannakouros, , would like to see Council move forward with the renaming of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way because of what he stood for.

Stan Maclin, Downtown Harriet Tubman Center, stated his initial request was to provide symbolism to help reduce violence. Mr. Maclin stated the request was not just to honor King, because that is done every January. Mr. Maclin stated it is a community decision.

Dale Metzler, , stated there was a lot of history both in Virginia and Harrisonburg. Mr. Metzler stated with the mystery of the name Cantrell and with only speculations that can be found, he encouraged City Council to change the street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

Karen Thomas, , stated she felt the task force did what it was asked to do by bringing back a name of a street to be named after MLK, Jr. Ms. Thomas stated she felt the roads that were spoken about were suggested by Council and the group continues to embrace and support Cantrell Avenue to be renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

City Council Hearing, July 23, 2013.

Comments from the public, Second Task Force Report

Summary of speakers from Council Minutes:

Council Member Shearer stated he and Vice-Mayor Chenault were invited to a recent Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force meeting were the group agreed to research and bring back to Council other options other than just the renaming of Cantrell Avenue. Council Member Shearer stated the Task Force would be presenting in upcoming weeks.


Supporters were present but refrained from speaking to the item on the agenda. However, the following in comments from the public made indirect reference to the issue:

Panayotis Giannakouros, , thanked Council and City Manager for their concerns toward items harming the watershed and looking for upcoming changes the City would have to make to comply with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Protection regulations. Mr. Giannakouros stated with those items in mind he would like to bring to Council's attention coal tar parking lot sealant that is being banned across the country. Mr. Giannakouros urged Council to continue towards the natural scenery and continue to protect our watershed. Mr. Giannakouros also stated he would like to see more public input towards the community survey that had been proposed because he felt what was proposed wouldn't be best suited for the dynamics of the City of Harrisonburg.

City Council Hearing, August 13, 2013.

Final Public Hearing.

Summary of speakers from Council Minutes:

Brian Burkholder gave a presentation on behalf of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force. It was decided best to honor King with high visibility in a setting that holds significance, while investing an acceptable amount of funding for the impact of necessary change. After research and discussion over numerous possibilities for this honor, the Task Force is recommending that City Council rename Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and commemorate the current name with historic Cantrell Avenue signage either under or beside each new sign. Mr. Burkholder discussed the civil rights movement and how much significant activity took place in the streets, so it was quite important to name a street after King. Renaming an existing street asks something of us all individually and as a community—there's a level of intentional sacrifice to demonstrate a symbolic reversal of past City and institutional policies. Burkholder stated that Cantrell Avenue was selected as the street to be renamed because of its central location and its visibility. After further review, the Task Force determined that there are fewer than expected physical addresses that will need to be changed. In a survey conducted by the Task Force a few months prior, a majority of address-holders reported being open to this change. Additionally, the name Cantrell Avenue does not have a significant honorable history in how it received its name. The cost to the City for the new signage on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way would be reasonable and liken to the average costs of street maintenance and upkeep. With a six-month transition time to the new address, this would allow current residents of the street to order new letter head or mailing address labels, as well as use up any existing ones. Mr. Burkholder reported that there were to be no additional postal service related costs for this change. Burkholder also stated that the additional costs and limitations for things such as updating maps, directions, 911 emergency database and GPS units fall into the category of the ever- present changes in our lives. Other possible locations considered by the Task Force include a new downtown park by Turner Pavilion, the current Harrisonburg High School, an expanded Municipal Building, a bridge or overpass on Port Republic Road or Stone Spring Road, a biking or walking path on the North End Greenway, a section of Interstate 81, a new elementary school or Thomas Harrison Middle School, the Stone Spring- Erickson Connector roadway, Route 33, and also Main Street. The Task Force found that none of these other options met the criteria for honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Harrisonburg community. The Task Force respectfully requests Council rename Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and to commemorate Cantrell Avenue with historic signage. The Task Force further urges Council to bring this matter to a vote tonight. Mr. Burkholder invited all who were present and support this proposal to please stand.

Mayor Byrd closed the regular session and the public hearing to order at 7:35 p.m. The following notice appeared in the Daily News-Record on Monday, August 5, 2013:

The Harrisonburg City Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, August 13, 2013, at 7:00 p.m., in the City Council Chamber, 409 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia, or as soon as the agenda permits, to receive public input on the following: The naming or renaming of an appropriate street, road, bridge, school or other public facility, to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including the possible renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

All persons interested will have an opportunity to express their views at this public hearing.

Any individual requiring auxiliary aids, including signers, in connection with the public hearing shall notify the City Manager at least five (5) days prior to the date of the meeting.

CITY OF HARRISONBURG Kurt D. Hodgen City Manager Karen Thomas announced that The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia has partnered with the National Park Service for global observance of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream..." speech and the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. on August 28, 2013. Ms. Thomas stated it was time to move "The Friendly City" forward with renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King Way. Thomas also presented a petition to Council which included 534 signatures in support of the street renaming.

Rhonda Lentz, 1240 Meadowlark Drive, recited from a letter by Martin Luther King, Jr. in that, "wait almost always means never." Additionally, she noted that King wrote about four steps to a non-violent campaign, the second of which is negotiation. Ms. Lentz felt that the Task Force that was appointed by Council was not open to alternative suggestions to the renaming of Cantrell Avenue, and therefore not willing to negotiate. Ms. Lentz stated that according to her research, there are very few metropolises that have streets named after King, and did not agree that Harrisonburg should be one of those cities. She supports honoring his accomplishments in another fashion, but not through the renaming of a street. Additionally, Ms. Lentz spoke about the accomplishments the first African American to serve on City Council, Elon Rhodes. She felt his work more closely reflected King's work and demonstrated commitment to the Harrisonburg community, and suggested Rhodes is honored as well. When considering the street name change from Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Ms. Lentz stated that the name change would affect GPS systems and this would not only confuse travelers and new JMU students, but also could be costly for individuals to update their maps on the devices. She estimates over 300 people who reside or work on Cantrell Avenue that will be affected by this change and questioned whether each person was contacted for input on this name change. Ms. Lentz stated she would support a minor change to the current "Dream Come True Park" in Harrisonburg, by adding Martin Luther King Jr.'s name to the front of the current name.

Paloma Rodriguez Assera supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way because it represents diversity.

Doris Allen, stated that she is a native of Harrisonburg for 86 years and went to the march on Washington in 1963. She supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way because he was a humanitarian to all of mankind and we in the "Friendly City" should share the brotherly love that was portrayed by King.

 Evelyn De Chauny presented a quote from King that included a concept that he called "beloved community." Ms. De Chauny stated that this concept calls for a shift from a thing-oriented society to a people-oriented society. Ms. De Chauny supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue because it represents the City, in who we are and all of our histories. Ms. De Chauny encouraged Council to approve the name change to send a message to everyone that this is dignity for all and not just some.

Evan Knappenberger, President of Vets for Peace Chapter 171, spoke on behalf of the organization and encouraged Council to rename Cantrell Avenue. He added that the street name should not be shortened and should not appear as, "MLK Way" but rather as, "Martin Luther King, Jr. Way." Jossimar Diaz-Castro stated that he supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue because names are important markers of culture and humanity. Mr. Diaz-Castro noted that while he does not live on Cantrell Avenue, he would be honored to live there if it were renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

Panayotis Giannakouros presented a brief history on the naming of Cantrell Avenue from his own research. Mr. Giannakouros felt that because Cantrell was not definitively named for anyone, it would be best to give something meaningful to future generations and honor someone good like Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ramona Sanders supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. She noted that this renaming would honor a national leader and motivator for change through nonviolent means. Additionally, Ms. Sanders added that many other progressive towns and cities across the country have already named something after King.

Deb Fitzgerald stated that she supports renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. As the Chair of the Planning Commission, Ms. Fitzgerald stated that the City should think about how its population is changing and plan accordingly for the changing. She encouraged Council to adopt the name change in an effort to tell a story to visitors about what type of City Harrisonburg is.

Boyd Reese stated that he supports renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. He noted that because of the impact that King's work had on so many people, it was fitting to name something after him that many would see every day, such as a street.

Darris Shedory stated that he grew up in Harrisonburg and cares about the community. Mr. Shedory supports that renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way because it would honor King's determination and dedication to his cause. He also questioned Council Members about what type of legacy they would like to leave behind when they are gone.

 Fabrice Ndzana stated that he works for the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents in Staunton and supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way because of the diversity that King supported and embraced. He noted that the City is becoming more diverse on a daily basis and that this change would speak for what the community believes in.

Ruth Jost thanked the Task Force for their hard work over the past few months. She stated that changing Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Way would be fitting because the street passes by the hospital. Ms. Jost supported the name change in order for the community to honor King and show that love is more powerful than hate.

Bonnie Kaplinger stated that while she did not live in the City, she travels through it quite often. Ms. Kaplinger supported the naming of a new street such as Stone Spring Road being named after Martin Luther King, Jr. She noted that this naming would not require anyone to change addresses and would not confuse JMU students or visitors that come to the City. Ms. Kaplinger agreed with speakers before her in that King should not be honored by naming a park, but rather a street.

Emily Wick stated that she grew up in Harrisonburg and does not support renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Ms. Wick encouraged Council to honor King by considering other options so that everyone can be happy with the decision.

John Lutz stated that his father served as a City police officer for over 35 years. He does not support renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way but instead suggested that Council honor someone that everyone can relate to. Additionally, Mr. Lutz stated that he does not support renaming of a street, but encouraged Council to consider honoring someone with a new thoroughfare.

Paloma Assera stated that she supports changing the name of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. She felt it would represent cultural diversity and expressed that the name change would make children of color in the City feel wanted, honored and recognized.

Theodore Whitelow stated that Harrisonburg has become a progressive City and hopes it continues on that trend. He supports the name change of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and encouraged Council to name other landmarks in the City after other iconic figures like Sally Hemings, Rosa Parks or Elon Rhodes.

Will Hairston stated that he was in support of naming something after Martin Luther King, Jr. and was in support of renaming Cantrell Avenue. He felt Cantrell Avenue was a good choice for the renaming because it passes by James Madison University and Rockingham Memorial Hospital.

Esther Nizer stated that she was a part of renaming her own street, so she understands the process. Ms. Nizer supports renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and encouraged Council to vote on the issue tonight.

Terri Tucker commented that no one was against naming something after Martin Luther King, Jr. and is in support of the Cantrell Avenue renaming because it is a connector road.

Ricardo Cortez stated that he supports renaming Cantrell Avenue. He supports Cantrell Avenue being renamed because of the old Harrisonburg High School being located at the end of the street and the former Rockingham Memorial Hospital being located on it, both of which were previously segregated.

Isabel Castia, Chicago Avenue, stated that she supports renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

Carol Snellfeikema stated that she supports the street renaming and encouraged Council to take the opportunity to heal historical harms and make a new history.

Charles Geil stated that he is a historian and has watched history be torn down in Harrisonburg over the last 15-20 years. He does not feel that changing the name of an existing street is the best solution and urged Council to seek other ways to honor King.

Steven Thomas felt that the Task Force has made a good compromise that appealed to both sides of the issue by adding historical Cantrell Avenue signs below the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Way signs. Mr. Thomas stated that if Council did not approve this name change, it would send a message to the community and urged Council members not to sway on this issue, but to vote to honor an American history icon who died for equality for all.

Joshua Diamond stated that he is in support of renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. He urged Council to send a message that struggling people matter in Harrisonburg and encouraged Council Members to dismantle some of their own privilege.

Kia Johnson stated that this matter was part of a deeper issue. She supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and hopes that the discussion on this topic will continue long after the decision. She urged Council to capitalize on the moment and approve the renaming.

James Lincoln stated that he supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Because King affected the lives of nearly everyone in America, this name change would be symbolic and would give citizens a chance to create a conversation with children about what that name means. Mr. Lincoln also added that there were not many Cantrell Avenue property owners present tonight, and therefore they must not care about the name change.

Christy Vansickle stated that from an educator's point of view, she felt the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. would create an opportunity to teach kids and future generations that the City is open to change. She felt it would also provide for an opportunity to teach about the history of the nation and remind students that they are valued and important.

Patrick Ressler commented that when he first moved to the Valley in 2005, he noticed all of the history and historical landmarks it contained and loved that about the area. Mr. Ressler supports the name change because it is what the general population desires.

Carlos Aleman stated that he would personally benefit from the street name change because of the location of his house. He added that he works at James Madison University and also works with new immigrants that come to Harrisonburg and stated this name change would be a wonderful story to tell how the City took advantage of this opportunity. Mr. Aleman encouraged Council to vote for the name change.

Tony Madison, off , stated that while he does not argue with Martin Luther King Jr.'s contributions to society, he does not agree with naming a street after King. Mr. Madison felt that no streets or days should be named for private citizens, including Mr. King. He added that it would cost the City less to not make a change at all, and encouraged Council to take the money they would spend on a street name change and invest it in the local community in a program such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Steven Johnson stated that he was here as a business owner and property owner on Cantrell Avenue and was not in favor of the street renaming. While he agrees with honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., he does not feel renaming Cantrell Avenue and losing its history is the correct solution. He feels there are other solutions that would gain support of everyone.

Paulette Moore stated that she is a professor of media and communication at James Madison University and has studied what the concept of symbol does for a population. Ms. Moore supports the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

Kelley Straughen, stated that he has been a resident of Harrisonburg for over 60 years and is a member of a group called "Remembering Downtown Harrisonburg". Mr. Straughen stated that no one in the group disagreed that Martin Luther King, Jr. should be honored, but that majority of the group was against renaming any major street after anyone because of the financial cost and the inconvenience. Mr. Straughen suggested that Council should instead consider naming a  bike path to honor King. He stated that this would be low to no cost, inconvenience no one as the path was already in the City's plans, and could be named right away.

Elizabeth Brown stated that the City would receive economic benefits of renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way because businesses would see that the City has embraced social change and that the community is going past history.

James "Bucky" Berry feels that renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way would jeopardize businesses and cost money to the business owners. Mr. Berry is against the renaming of Cantrell Avenue, but would be in favor of renaming the Southeast connector road because it will not affect as many people.

Roger Baker felt that the Task Force was not considering all of the other options. He stated that he had brought forth the idea of renaming or dedicating a section of Interstate 81. Additionally, Mr. Baker questioned why the option was not considered to keep the name of Cantrell Avenue the same, but instead add historic signs underneath that dedicated it as Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Highway. Baker also stated that Council could also chose the option to name the new section of road that connects Route 11 to Route 42.

Lara Mack stated that while she does not live in Harrisonburg, she is a graduate of James Madison University and also works in Harrisonburg. She considers Harrisonburg her home and stated that while she has lots of fond memories of Cantrell Avenue, her proudest memory would be when it is renamed to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

Vickie Swartz stated that while she was grateful for the struggles of King and what he stood for as well as the individuals that marched with him, she did not support renaming any City street for anyone. Ms. Swartz felt that King could be honored in another way, such as naming a new street, dedicating the bridge over Interstate 81, a new building, or any other thing that is new. She is opposed to renaming anything.

At 9:15 p.m., Mayor Byrd declared the public hearing closed and the regular session reconvened. Mayor Byrd invited discussion from Council.

Council Member Degner thanked the Task Force and felt that the members of the Task Force had done an excellent job listening to and considering all options. Degner stated that the issue for him comes down to two things. The first is that he feels saying "no" to this Task Force recommendation communicates something he does not wish to be a part of. Secondly, he feels it must be a happy coincidence that the street the Task Force has recommended for renaming, is between Liberty Street and James Madison University. He feels that the location of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Way would be representative of the visions of liberty that Madison had, and that they could not have  been achieved without the works of King. Council Member Degner felt that this decision would make an impact on economic equality as well moving forward.

Council Member Degner offered a motion to approve the Task Force recommendation to change the name of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, with signs on every sign marker beneath in brown commemorating the historic Cantrell Avenue. He further recommended that this change be made effective January 1, 2014 and that the City Manager's Office work to develop a process to review expenses for possible reimbursement to property owners for the name change. The motion was seconded by Vice-Mayor Chenault and discussion continued on the subject.

Vice-Mayor Chenault agreed with Council Member Degner that the new signs for renaming Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way should include historical signage for Cantrell Avenue and agreed that the delay in enacting this decision to change the street name will allow for the signage to be made and installed, and also allow property owners on Cantrell Avenue sufficient time to make the changes. He also felt that compensation for these changes that the property and business owners will have to make is necessary to be reimbursed by the City. Vice-Mayor Chenault stated that Council will work to establish a process for reimbursement. This renaming will have a tremendous economic benefit to the community and feels that because of this, the community will get back the money of the reimbursements to business owners. Vice- Mayor Chenault concluded by thanking everyone for their comments and bravery in getting up to speak on both sides of the issue.

Council Member Baugh continued discussion by stating that everyone brings their own unique perspective to an issue. First he pointed out to those on the opposition side that this issue was brought forward by a group of citizens with a request that is not unreasonable. The second concept that Baugh stated the discussion involved was that this issue brings about our tendency to pull into state or national historical narrative. While Martin Luther King, Jr. streets do not exist in every City, it is not unreasonable to request here. Baugh stated that if the research into Cantrell Avenue had concluded that there was a specific reason for the naming and that renaming the street would be dishonoring that individual, then he would look at other options; however, the Task Force and staff have found nothing. Finally, Baugh stated that in the late 1930's when Madison College changed its name to James Madison University, there were residents of the City who did not like it.

Council Member Shearer added to the discussion that it was apparent that many people in the community were proud of Dr. King and that as a teacher, he was also proud of the messages King represented so that his students could learn from these. Shearer noted that it seemed the disagreement was not on honoring King, but rather the logistics of how to do so. Shearer felt that while there are other great options that Council and the Task Force could consider that would not degrade King or his movement, it is very important to gauge the response from the community, and it is for this reason that he expressed his support for the renaming tonight.

Mayor Byrd wrapped up the discussion by thanking the Task Force for its work and to the public for its input on this matter. Byrd stated that he spoke with a lot of people about this issue and that while an overwhelming number of them supported honoring King in some fashion, there is a divide of what to name. Mayor Byrd stated that the City would be spending in excess of $30 million on a new middle school soon and that if the school was named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., the children who attended this school would see daily the sign and remember the impact he had on their lives. Byrd added that he respects both sides of the issue and the work that King has provided to this community, but stated his vote would be negative on this issue.

On the motion made by Council Member Degner and properly seconded by Vice- Mayor Chenault, the motion was approved with a recorded roll call vote taken as follows:

Yes - Council Member Baugh, Council Member Degner, Vice-Mayor Chenault and Council Member Shearer
No - Mayor Byrd
Mayor Byrd called for a brief recess at 9:46 p.m. At 9:52 p.m., Mayor Byrd called the regular meeting back in session.