Money Talks: High Point Gets a MLK

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After decades of trying, High Point will finally get a Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7 to 1 to rename the 5-mile stretch, from W. English Road to Business Interstate 85, of Kivett Drive after the civil rights leader. Signs will be up and changed by Jan. 1, 2016. The renaming would also call for Kivett Drive to be in small lettering under the streets new name.

For more than 20 years, residents, agencies and clergy have called on those in power to take charge and rename a street after King. A decade ago, a memorial was put up but that was as far as the petition went. Last summer, a petition to rename Green Drive was shot down after businesses and residents complained about having to change their address. The street would have changed from Brentwood Street to Fairfield Avenue.

For so many this is a big step and one that has taken quite some time to complete. I’m happy that the city has taken steps to be more progressive and listen to their residents.

But that’s the thing.

They haven’t listened to their residents, because if they had this would have taken place more than 20 years ago. For more than half of my life the request has been on the table and for just as long that request has been denied. Here’s the kicker: There are people who are on the city council, commissions and boards that have been there for the last 30 years as well.

So I guess my question would be, why now? Why did you decide after 20 years to finally give into the requests of those whom you work for? Whom you are elected to serve and hold their best interest at heart?

I would like to think that it was all about the residents however a statement to media has changed that.

While the commission also approved the renaming of College Drive to University Parkway during the meeting, High Point University supported the MLK renaming.

Here’s where the question comes in.

Commissioner Marie Stone was quoted by The High Point Enterprise as saying that the 14 organizations that passed resolutions in support of the renaming made an impression on her. Those agencies included High Point University, The High Point Chamber of Commerce and the High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau.

So the hundreds of residents that have asked for the change over the years didn’t count? The taxpayers’ who asked for the request ten years ago didn’t matter? Tell me, is it that their wallets were not deep enough or was it because they didn’t have anyone to pass a resolution or make a proclamation about the widely-publicized need? What is it that changed the minds of power this time?

I guess we’ll never know. We’ll just have to wait and see what city council has to say about the renaming. You know, the people who have been sitting on the council for 20 plus years. Those who have heard and denied the request before. Perhaps if they see certain agencies signed off on the renaming they would let it pass.

It seems that the money, not the residents, seem to be calling the shots around the city. The question isn’t what’s in your wallet but more like how deep is your wallet. Or at least that’s how it comes across to us residents that have been yelling the same recently-approved request from the mountaintop all these years.

I’m just saying.

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