Lexington City Council approves renaming process for streets named after Confederacy

City will test renaming with New Market Place and then reassess come September

LEXINGTON, Va. – Lexington City Council approved a path forward to renaming streets in the city Thursday night. This includes a half-dozen contested streets named after the Confederacy.

Councilwoman Marilyn Alexander made it clear what’s on the line.

“I really want to make it clear that the Confederate names of streets, structures, etc. are offensive to Black citizens,” Alexander said.

After being tabled at the last meeting, the council passed the proposal Thursday. It gives citizens a way to initiate change, but under the format would require 75% of the landowners along the street to support the change. Councilman Dennis Ayers supports that method.

“I do believe that the residents of a particular street because the burden is going to be mostly on them, should be heavily considered in the renaming of streets,” Ayers said.

But many in the public who submitted comments for the hearing said that puts the burden on citizens to do council’s work, and object to a processing fee. Councilwoman Leslie Straughan said that’s not the case.

“I just want to make it clear with this policy, that this policy is to help us consider proposals, city council is not losing our right to change a name whenever city council decides,” Straughan said.

Council agreed to continue on with its plans to do a test run of renaming New Market Place to see how it goes. They will reexamine the policy after that in September to make any changes, which councilman Chuck Smith said is a good idea.

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