Local News

Avon Park MLK street name special meeting to be held Monday

AVON PARK - In an effort to focus and finally decide on which Avon Park road may be renamed in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., a special city council meeting will be held.

The Avon Park City Council will meet at 6 p.m., Monday, and hold a workshop on King street naming options. A review of the available options will take place and citizens will be able to give their input.

Two city council meetings in January have already addressed the issue and taken in citizen comments and suggestions.

Currently, the city is looking at four options, which will be discussed: Option one is starting at the intersection of Cornell Street and U.S. 27, onto south Lake Avenue, through Tulane Drive, onto south Verona Avenue and ending at Main Street. Option two is to ask the Highlands County County Commission to change the name of Memorial Boulevard from the intersection of Main Street and Memorial south to Cornell Street. Option three is starting at south Lake and Hal McCrae boulevards through south Lake, Tulane Drive and east Hal McCrae and ending at Memorial Avenue. The final option is to rename Hal McCrae Boulevard to Hal McRae/MLK Boulevard including the Tulane Drive segment.

Although the options have been more focused, the city is not near a final decision, said Avon Park City Manager Julian Deleon. He said those options are tentative and choosing a street "may sound easy, but it is not."

"The council wants to find a suitable street segment that could be named after Martin Luther King. This council meeting is to discuss the available options as identified and provided by community members. It may be possible that we walk away with a decision; otherwise, we will continue to work on it. This is a community effort," he said.

The options were selected following a Jan. 27 city council meeting when council members voted down 3-2 renaming for King from the intersection of south Lake Avenue and Hal McRae Boulevard to Tulane Drive, south Verona Avenue, up to Main Street, onto Tulane up to Lake Avenue. Council members Deputy Mayor Brenda Giles - who amended the option and made the motion - and Terry Heston voted in favor and Parke Sutherland, Garret Anderson and Mayor Sharon Schuler voted against, citing the desire to have more input from Highlands County before making a final decision.

Another option at the time, renaming south Delaney Avenue and Main Street south to Ernest E. Sims Street, was dropped from consideration after hearing testimony from DeLaney's descendants and after hearing that option would be the only acceptable choice for the majority of the vocal contingency attending the meeting.

Giles said she hopes to see a good turnout at the special city council meeting, especially from residents that the name change would impact. She said the meeting is just another in the ongoing process of finally deciding on a street.

Giles said she didn't expect a final decision to be made but hopes by the end of Monday's meeting, the city would be able to narrow in on what citizens want based on their input.

"I'm going to just listen to what the people say. I've looked at the options, I don't want to say which way I'll go at this point. I just want to get a lot of people out there that it might affect," she said.


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