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Lexington officials consider policy to rename streets tied to Confederacy

Council drafting policy in response to community petitions

Lexington City Council to consider renaming streets with Confederate ties
Lexington City Council to consider renaming streets with Confederate ties

LEXINGTON, Va. – Lexington city leaders are considering how to adopt a policy to rename streets tied to the Confederacy.

Currently, there is no strict policy. Someone could approach the city council with a proposed name change one week and then return with a different idea two weeks later.

City leaders are working on a policy they hope everyone can agree on, but some citizens are not on board.

A petition circulating online is asking Lexington City Council to rename five streets: Confederate Circle, Jackson Avenue, Lee Avenue, Rebel Ridge Road and Stonewall Street. Supporters say current names “preserve a damaging legacy” of respect for Confederate generals and the Lost Cause built on slavery.

Mayor Frank Friedman said the council’s been working on a renaming policy for months after a petition called on them to rename statues, buildings and streets with history based in the Confederacy. A majority of council members want citizens to take the lead.

The proposed policy would require at least 75% of citizens who live on the street to agree to change the street name and agree on a new name, plus pay $400. Petition organizers believe that cost should fall on the city’s shoulders.

Friedman said renaming streets would impact residents on that street the most, from mailing addresses, documentation for their homes, to 911 calls.

“Sometimes slowing service, that’s the greatest concern to me is if we change a street name and an emergency vehicle doesn’t find the right house or doesn’t go to the right place relying on GPS, would be a tragic outcome,” said Friedman.

Council will discuss this at the next meeting on March 18, hear from the public and then should make a decision on April 1.

About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!