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No Decision On Request For Road Name Change in Chapel Hill

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Town leaders in Chapel Hill are expected to vote next month on a controversial request to rename a busy road after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Chapel Hill Town Council continued a public forum that began April 19 about renaming Airport Road on Monday, giving council members an opportunity to receive further public comments and questions regarding the proposal.

The proposal to rename Airport Road has generated controversy.

In January 2004, Mayor Pro Tem Edith Wiggins brought forward a request from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that the Town Council consider renaming Airport Road in honor of Dr. King. The Council referred the matter to the Council Naming Committee for consideration.

Bill Thorpe, with the NAACP, is leading the effort for the name change.

"This is the main street and it symbolizes the struggle Dr. King went through and the struggle we all are going through," he said.

Melissa Lankford grew up on Airport Road, where her father owns two businesses. Her objections to the name change are shared by many other residents and business owners.

"A concern I have is about erasing history and also cost to businesses. My father owns a business and we figured the cost would be $6,000 just for the paperwork, name changes, legal changes, et cetera," she said.

The Council Naming Committee has met twice to discuss the proposal.

Members requested that the council defer acting on the proposal Monday.

A final decision is expected June 14.

Chapel Hill currently has a Martin Luther King Street. It is 1/10 of a mile and dead ends into a cul-de-sac.The street sign is covered with cobwebs.

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