University City street names could soon be changed

Missouri

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. – Certain street names in University City could be changed after a task force was formed questioning if the people they’re named after are deserving of the recognition. City Manager Gregory Rose said the decision is a major topic of discussion and they hope to have a decision in the coming months.

“I believe that us as a society began to look at those people that we were honoring and saying, ‘Are we doing the right thing here?’” Rose said. 

After George Floyd‘s murder last year, there’s been a nationwide movement questioning whether those being honored on monuments and other landmarks should remain.

“Some cities looked at statues and that were erected made some changes and for us we decided to look at our parks and streets,” Rose said. “Should we be honoring those individuals in this way?”

University City is now considering changing some of the street names in three phases, starting with Amherst, Jackson, Pershing, and Wilson avenues.

“The task force reported on Monday what their findings were as it relates to offensive streets and so the next step in the process is for staff to evaluate and what’s the logistics in changing the street name,” Rose said. “What are the pros and cons to doing it.”

The names in the second tier include street names who were slave holders, like Martin Hanley, Peter Lindell, William Price, and others.  The task force says more research is needed for the third tier, but they include Yale, Princeton, Chamberlain, and Washington avenues, along with Camden Court. 

“I think it’s great that the city is considering it,” said Doris Mann, a U-City resident.

Mann grew up in University City and graduated from University City High School when they were known as the Indians.  At the time, Mann didn’t realize why the name change was made. Now, she understands why and supports the idea of changing some street names.

“University City has always been a very inclusive place compared to anywhere else in the St. Louis area that I know of,” she said. “I’m very proud to say I’m from University City.”

Stuart Zimbalist has lived on Amherst Avenue since the 1970s and thinks changing the street names isn’t necessary.

“It’s just something that seems, to me, to be ridiculous,” he said. “We have much more serious issues to deal with in these days and these times, and this is not one of them that’s for sure.”

Should the city take the time and energy to rename its streets? Depends on who you ask. But Mann and Zimbalist both say a common denominator should be factored into the decision – cost. 

“I do think the cost needs to be considered also and let the residents have a say or vote in the decision,” Mann said.

“In terms of time money and energy, it would just be a waste,” Zimbalist said.   

Rose said they’ll take what residents are saying into account and he hopes to have a decision by this summer.

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