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Letters: Renaming King Street is a broken promise

Contributed To The Press • Oct 29, 2017 at 12:00 AM

What? Rebrand King Street as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard? Glorify King Commons Park and grace it with a statue of Dr. King? You’ve got to be kidding.

The Johnson City Regional Planning Commission has let our community down. Its choice dishonors the memory of Dr. King and belittles the significance of the contributions of African-Americans to the life of our city over the last century and a half. This decision completely subverts our objective of naming one of our major thoroughfares after Dr. King, as so many cities, large and small, have done.

King Street is anything but a boulevard. It’s an unattractive back street with an unflattering semi-industrial appearance along each end. It’s far from a prominent, heavily traveled thoroughfare. It leads from nowhere to nowhere.

We’re told of vague dreams in the minds of some visionaries of somehow transforming King Street into a suitably dignified tribute to Dr. King. It all sounds like promises made to be broken. And at this point these are not even promises yet, let alone commitments paid for and fulfilled.

In contrast, our earlier proposals for renaming the north half of either University Parkway or State of Franklin Road for Dr. King would be less costly and more appropriate. Surely the objections of 911 officials and of our Geographic Information Systems people can be overcome. How did they manage the change of a few blocks of Downtown Loop to Buffalo Street?

How did they ever survive the change of not one, but two street names across a state line in Bristol? The sky didn’t fall.

In view of the widespread discontent among Johnson City citizens over the hijacking of our objective, is it time for our city commissioners to defer action on this matter until it can be more carefully deliberated in our community, perhaps under the guidance of an enlarged task force?

DONALD SHAFFER

Johnson City

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