No ‘Martin’ on Memorial

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 10, 2007

AHOSKIE – It appears that renaming one of Ahoskie’s streets in memory of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remains a possibility.

However, Memorial Drive is no longer on that short list of streets.

At Tuesday’s meeting, members of the Ahoskie Town Council learned that the results of a poll conducted by town officials of Memorial Drive property owners overwhelmingly opposed renaming the town’s busiest street.

Generating a list by means of using the addresses where the town’s water bills are sent, a total of 173 letters were mailed to Memorial Drive property owners. Of that number, 139 individuals replied, of which 88 were against the renaming proposal while only one was in favor. The remaining 50 provided no response.

According to Town Manager Tony Hammond, those voting no to the proposal cited the expenses associated with an address change (checks, letterheads, invoices, etc.). Also, some brought up the fact that Memorial Drive was named in honor of World War II veterans.

Hammond also mentioned to the council members that other suggestions have surfaced since Annie Mobley first approached the board in September of last year with the idea of honoring Dr. King. He said the town could rename the next new street to be constructed, rename No Man’s Land Park on Main Street, name the park now planned within the FEMA buyout area or rename First Street/NC 561.

Town Councilman Ronald Gatling suggested that a public hearing be held at the next council meeting in order to receive input on the possibility of renaming the portion of Rhue Street north of Main Street as well as the portion of North Catherine Creek Road (north of New Ahoskie Baptist Church) to Malibu Drive in memory of Dr. King.

Gatling’s suggestion was approved and a public hearing on that issue will be held at 10 a.m. on Feb. 13.

The debate of naming one of Ahoskie’s streets in honor of Dr. King first surfaced at a September meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council. Since, it has been discussed on numerous occasions at ensuing meetings.

At an 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.