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Chapel Hill Debates Renaming Road For MLK

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Across the country, hundreds of cities and towns honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by naming a street after him.

But what kind of street is worthy of a civil rights leader? That is the debate underway in Chapel Hill, and it is expected to come to a head Monday night.

The Town Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday to hear comments from citizens about renaming Airport Road Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Airport Road is perhaps the most prominent thoroughfare through the city, passing by City Hall.

"This is a great way to honor Martin Luther King," said Bill Thorpe, of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro branch of the NAACP.

What many people may not know is that Chapel Hill already has a Martin Luther King Street. It is about a tenth of a mile long and starts and stops in a community of duplexes.

In other cities, like Raleigh, the street named for Dr. King is a pretty major thoroughfare.

Some people in Chapel Hill say Airport Road should be left alone.

"I'd like to see consideration given for MLK Boulevard on a new street, rather than having to change the name for functional and historic reasons," said Chapel Hill resident Roland Giduz.

There also is a reason like Horace Williams Airport, which Airport Road leads to.

Many business owners along Airport Road also are concerned about the cost of changing signs and stationery.

Now, it is up to the Town Council to decide whether the existing Martin L. King Street, or the proposed Martin Luther King Boulevard, or something else altogether, is the appropriate way to honor Dr. King.

The council is not expected to vote during Monday's meeting.

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