City renames two streets, issues moratorium

Published 11:48 am Saturday, January 11, 2014

After the Bainbridge City Council approved a citizen’s request for renaming Barlow Street to L.L. Ward Street Tuesday, the council quickly approved a motion to rename Planter Street as Martin Luther King Street. The council then set a moratorium on renaming streets until an ordinance and official policy regarding street renaming is created.
Council member Rosalyn Palmer suggested the council should create an ordinance and procedure for renaming streets so that, “we don’t get haunted with a bad problem that can divide the community and divide this board like it could over naming a street.”
Once there was a discussion regarding creating an ordinance, Palmer made the motion to rename Barlow Street and the motion was unanimously approved.
Councilmember Luther Conyers Jr. then stepped in with another street renaming suggestion.
“Before we leave and since there is no policy against it, I would like for us to review the renaming of Planter Street and name it from Broad Street out, after Martin Luther King Jr., the person that served this country, this nation and even ultimately the whole world,” Conyers said.
Currently Planter Street begins at Broad Street and turns into Martin Luther King Jr. Street after Scott Street. Conyers said he would like the entire street to be named in memory of the late Dr. King, “Because we have no policy against it,” Conyers said.
The council was split on the decision and Mayor Edward Reynolds gave the tie-breaking vote in favor of changing the street’s name.
Council members Conyers, Joe Sweet and Phil Long voted in favor of the change while members Glennie Bench, Rosalyn Palmer and Don Whaley voted against it.
“I will vote with the change,” Reynolds said. “But with no policy in place, unfortunately I would have preferred to have notified the residents.”
After some discussion, Conyers made a motion to make the change effective in 90 days, giving time for all residents and businesses to be notified. The motion was approved unanimously.
“I voted against it because I felt like it would not be appropriate to consider a name change without having notified the residents on that street,” Bench said following the meeting. “I certainly don’t disagree with the fact that it should be named for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But as I told Mr. Conyers, I disagreed with the process, not the principle.”
Palmer made the motion to then place a moratorium on further name changes until the city manager, Chris Hobby, could create and draft an ordinance regarding the procedure. The motion to create a moratorium passed unanimously.

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