Suggestion of naming street for Martin Luther King Jr. resurfaces

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

More than 10 years ago, Salisbury City Councilman William “Pete” Kennedy suggested that the city consider renaming Long Street for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Discussion during the King Day-related activities this past weekend again brought up the idea that Salisbury needs a street named for the slain civil rights leader.

Kennedy said Tuesday that many other cities have honored King in this way.

“I think it’s time for us to do something also,” he told the rest of City Council.

This past Saturday, Charlotte renamed its Second Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

More than 700 cities in the United States now have streets named for the slain civil rights leader.

Kennedy noted Tuesday that Long Street has been mentioned again as a candidate for the renaming in Salisbury. But he added quickly that not everyone likes change, and he would anticipate some opposition to a name change wherever it happens.

Council never took action on Kennedy’s suggestion a decade ago. The other current members were not yet on council when Kennedy made his proposal, Mayor Susan Kluttz said.

Kennedy recommended Tuesday — and the rest of council agreed — that city staff members investigate the question and come back with some information that could be discussed at council’s retreat in February.

“Long Street may not be the street that worked out,” Kennedy said.

But if Long Street were the ultimate recommendation, Kennedy said the city should bring East Spencer officials into the process. East Spencer also has talked in the past of renaming Long Street for King.

Long Street continues into East Spencer, which adjoins Salisbury.

Kennedy noted that some cities have found ways of making the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. name prominent on street signs, while still retaining the older street’s name underneath.

Mayor Susan Kluttz noted that changing a street name is an involved process. Long Street, for example, is a state-maintained street whose name change would have to be approved by transportation officials.

Name changes of street also can be an inconvenience to residents and costly to merchants, whose business forms and promotional materials reflect the old address.

In another matter related to the King holiday, Kennedy said the Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations Council does such a good job with the annual King breakfast, it should take over leadership of the King Parade in downtown Salisbury, to make it “a grander occasion.”

In other business, council awarded a couple of contracts.

For $298,630, R.F. Shinn Inc. of Concord will install sewer improvements in areas annexed in 2005.

Shinn was the low bidder among Bell Construction Co. of Statesville, Foothills Water & Sewer Inc. of Stony Point and Fuller Contracting Co. of Mocksville.

Shinn has committed to spend at least 10 percent of the contract with minority businesses.

Council awarded Martin Starnes & Associates CPAs the city’s audit contract for the fiscal year ending June 30. The $28,600 contract represents the third year of a four-year agreement and is an $800 increase from last year.

Council also approved a minor site plan revision for Drummond Village’s first phase. It requires that front setbacks in the development off Stokes Ferry Road be 20 feet.

Previously, the setbacks were allowed to range from 15 to 20 feet.

Council approved the closing of the 100 block of East Liberty Street from 4 to 11 p.m. Jan. 27 for the Waterworks Visual Arts Center Oyster Roast.

The Andrew Jackson Masonic Lodge also will be allowed to reverse the flow of traffic on Water Street Feb. 22 for the lodge’s annual Brunswick stew sale.

Kluttz proclaimed January as National Mentoring Month in Salisbury. A resolution calls on citizens to promote awareness and volunteer involvement with the Rowan County Youth Services Bureau’s “Times 2 Mentoring Program.”

Kluttz also recognized the 62 employees of Norfolk Southern’s Old Spencer Yard in Salisbury for working more than a year without a reportable injury.

Overall, Norfolk Southern employees are receiving the Harriman Rail Safety Award for the 17th consecutive year.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or