Ask Us: Council not considering Confederate Avenue street renaming

Published 12:50 am Monday, July 20, 2020

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

Salisbury City Council members are not actively considering renaming Confederate Avenue and other streets in its limits.

Several readers asked specifically about Confederate Avenue, which starts near Rowan Medical Center and continues into the Salisbury Country Club. The questions all came after the City Council’s vote to relocate the “Fame” Confederate monument. Most City Council members responded that they had not heard of an effort to rename streets.

Mayor Karen Alexander kept her comments short, saying she has not received any request for naming streets. Alexander said she forwarded a request for information from the Post to the city’s Engineering Department.

Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins also responded briefly.

“Regarding the renaming of Confederate Ave, as with many issues, I wait to see what is the priority of public I serve,” Heggins wrote in an emailed response.

Councilman Brian Miller said the Post’s email was the first he had heard of questions about renaming Confederate Avenue.

“I’m not aware of any effort to rename streets anywhere in Salisbury,” Miller said. “I’m not certain what is involved in this from a process standpoint. I believe I was on council when we renamed Boundary Street, but I don’t remember how that worked. I am sure that any request of this type would have to involve public comment/input.”

The process of renaming a street, said City Attorney Graham Corriher, involves a request from someone or an effort from the council itself that meets policy requirements. In 1997, the council adopted a policy that involves referring the proposed change to the Salisbury Planning Board, which would involve input from the Technical Review Committee and emergency services.

The Technical Review Committee’s recommendation would go the Planning Board for further review. The Salisbury City Council would then take the Planning Board’s recommendation and solicit public comments for 30 days before acting on the matter. Some streets are subject to additional requirements under a thoroughfare plan, but Confederate Avenue is considered a local street and not subject to those additional items, Corriher said.

Councilman David Post said he has received some emails from citizens asking whether the council was considering any renaming. Post said he also received emails opposing any changes and he offered a question of his own.

“Instead, the question is: if changing any street name is under consideration, then should we not first determine which streets in Salisbury have racial or insensitive roots and then ask what do we do about them,” Post wrote in an email.

Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield said she hasn’t been approached in an official capacity and has not heard about an official request.

“I am sure these questions have surfaced due to the relocation agreement of the statue ‘Fame,'” Sheffield said. “I believe our city’s work now lies in policies, practices and equity for Salisburians in matters of housing, employment, safety, access to programs and basic dignity. We have work to do so healing can begin.”

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