On Wednesday, August 16th, The City Council voted (5-2) to change the name of
North Avenue to University Boulevard. (See the full text of the Resolution below.)
This idea has been supported by a group of residents for many years.
On September 23, 2017, The Daily Sentinel reported that the President of CMU
said that renaming North Avenue "didn't seem like a big deal to us."
And that's the crux of this problem in a nutshell!
The President of CMU is not a businessman. He is President of an educational institution.
But it sounds like he has not educated himself regarding the extraordinary financial burden on the
North Avenue businesses if the 4 miles of North Avenue are renamed to University Boulevard.
100% of these costs will be paid out-of-the-pockets of these businesses.
Neither CMU, the Chamber of Commerce, the NAOA, or The City will pay any of these costs.
Before they voted, did the City Council investigate anything about the financial
burden they were forcing on these businesses?
CMU and The Chamber have a plan to assist the North Avenue businesses:
students will volunteer to assist the businesses to solve the complex, expensive, time-consuming,
technical and industry-specific deadlines and problems that these businesses will face to comply
with the name change. It doesn't sound like the students need to have any prior experience,
nor any specialized education, in the specific business or industry that they will assist.
See, The Daily Sentinel, Joe Vaccarelli, September 2, 2017.
Does this sound like a practical, real-life solution?
The Chamber of Commerce wrote a check for the extraordinary amount of $22,000 - not to help
the businesses - but to The City to pay for new street signs. (See below for The Chamber's check.)
On September 8, 2017, The City had the good sense to reject this offer and suggest that the money
would be better spent to help the businesses. See, NBC11News, Joey Prechtl, September 8, 2017.
Click below to read letters from North Avenue business owners describing the financial burdens.
In case you are still reading this Mr. CMU President:
Changing the name of North Avenue to University Boulevard really is "a big deal!"
City Council listened to presentations from individuals who have wanted for many years
to rename North Avenue to University Boulevard.
The presentations made to City Council were not factually accurate.
Simply put: City Council relied upon 2 Myths as the basis for their decision to rename North Avenue.
There are 630 total North Avenue businesses, and 76% of these businesses signed petitions in favor of renaming North Avenue to University Boulevard.
THIS IS NOT TRUE.
Click Myth #1 below.
On August 16th, the City Council unanimously adopted the new Strategic Plan. (See, The Business Times, page 9, September 14-27, 2017.)
The City says:
"We want to be part of a community where residents are well informed about matters of local government and willing to get involved. This ultimately leads to improved governance and better public policy." Clearly, City Council does not want to force change on residents and businesses who have not been consulted and who will be harmed.
Isn't it time for City Council to start over with this process of attempting to rename North Avenue?
Outreach to all businesses on North Avenue in a planned, systematic and verifiable way would be a good place to start.
Engage the business owners about the pros and cons of the renaming.
Communicate with North Avenue businesses throughout the entire process, especially before any permanent and costly change is made.
Neither the Chamber of Commerce nor the NAOA have a high percentage of the North Avenue businesses as members, so it doesn't make sense for either one of them to try to be "the voice" of the North Avenue businesses. On September 23, 2017, the President of the Chamber of Commerce said that there are only 40 North Avenue businesses that are Chamber members. (See, The Daily Sentinel, Amy Hamilton.)
The City Council will need to be innovative, "think outside the box," to implement its fourth strategic directive so that North Avenue businesses are informed and involved. The renaming of North Avenue will impose a costly burden on many businesses that cannot afford it. This doesn't sound like "improved governance and better public policy."