Letters mailed in MLK debate

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 25, 2006

AHOSKIE – The letters have been mailed.

In an effort to receive input on the possibility of renaming an Ahoskie street in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., town of Ahoskie officials have mailed letters to property owners n business and residential n on Memorial Drive.

The issue first surfaced at a September meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council. Since, it has been discussed twice at ensuing meetings n a public input session held Oct. 10 and at a public workshop on Oct. 19.

By the end of the Oct. 19 workshop, one attended by 11 citizens plus town officials, Town Council members still had not reached a decision on which street would possibly be renamed, though Memorial Drive appeared to be the most favored solution.

While adding the name of Dr. King to Memorial Drive was the most popular of several proposed locations, Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn informed everyone in attendance that the post office would hold the city to strict guidelines on address changes.

“The people at the post office have said that a full address change would be incurred by any private or commercial properties on that thoroughfare,” Blackburn said at the Oct. 19 meeting. “Letterheads, financial documents and other business specific documents would have to be changed to comply with the new street name.”

Other suggestions have included Catherine Creek Road and First Street. There was one suggestion of naming the (railroad) overpass on Memorial Drive in honor of the slain Civil Rights leader.

At the Oct. 10 meeting, two local residents spoke in favor of honoring Dr. King, but not at the expense of renaming Catherine Creek Road. They said CC Road bore historical significance due to being Ahoskie’s first street, a road that old maps show in existence as early as 1804.

In order to follow through on the matter, Town Council members directed Mayor Blackburn and Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond to send a letter to property owners on Memorial Drive. That letter is as follows (note: failure to respond to the letter indicated an agreement with the proposed renaming): 

At the September 2006 Ahoskie Town Council meeting, the Council was asked to consider the renaming of Catherine Creek Road in Ahoskie in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.

At the October Town Council meeting, the Council held a Public Hearing to take input on this proposal.

As a part of public input into this proposal the Council was informed that there is historical significance surrounding the name of Catherine Creek Road and was requested to consider alternate streets and thoroughfares in the area to rename in honor of Dr. King.

In an effort to gain further input into this discussion, the Council held a Public Workshop on October 19 at which time it was asked of the Council to pursue a proposal to rename Memorial Drive in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The renaming of any street or thoroughfare in Ahoskie will require of those living or having a place of business on that street or thoroughfare to make certain changes to their mailing address.

The physical address (i.e. house numbers and numbers for businesses) would not be affected.

Only the name of the street would be changed.

In our discussions with the post office we have been advised that changes in mailing addresses will be the total responsibility of the resident or business located on the street or thoroughfare undergoing a name change.

Specifically, this means that the resident/business will be responsible for notifying all of those with whom they have correspondence of their new address.

In that it is a name change to a street and not a move to a new location, the resident and/or business will not be able to utilize the change of address materials supplied by the post office.

Any change, of course, would be given the proper time to ensure a continuity of mail delivery.

The post office has advised us that an uninterrupted transfer of mail would ensue for a period of one (l) year, giving those involved ample time to make sufficient notifications.

Understandably, any change in the name of a street or thoroughfare would also involve the individual or business to make necessary changes to checks, letterheads, invoices, etc. However, this most likely could be completed within the same one year time frame allowed by the post office.

The Ahoskie Town Council would ask that you give consideration to the renaming of Memorial Drive to Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Drive and advise the Town Manager, Mr. Tony Hammond, by January 2, 2007 in writing, of your consideration in this matter.

A non-response in this matter will be considered as support.

It is my (Mayor Blackburn) desire and that of the Ahoskie Town Council to have input from those directly involved in this proposal. We ask that you take into consideration this proposal before us and provide us with your feedback within the time specified.

The Town Council has expressed a desire to seek all public input into the proposal of renaming a street in our community in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King and to implement that proposal, after sufficient public input, in a timely manner.

Your input will be of great assistance to us in our efforts.