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London sets criteria for naming city-owned assets
Over the past year, the city of London has received requests from citizens to name or rename streets or other city-owned assets to honor specific individuals.
Dick Reynolds, a London native, was one of those citizens. He asked that city council consider naming a street after his mother, who as a single parent raised four boys who went on to be successful in life. Council also heard from friends of London resident Joshua McDaniels, a United States Marine who was killed in action in Afghanistan last year. They requested that a bridge be named in McDaniels’ honor.
At the time of the requests, the city did not have established standards in place to evaluate such requests. City leaders have since put together a list of criteria, which council unanimously approved on Sept. 20.
Councilman Alan Knowles, who sponsored the legislation, said the city respects citizens’ desire to honor certain individuals or groups but must set guidelines and restrictions when it comes to city-owned assets.
“By having legislation, we take the emotion out of the decision,” he said.
Under the new criteria, council will consider name suggestions for outdoor spaces, buildings and structures where signs are needed for the public and where the suggested name will become the common name for the space or structure. Council will not accept name suggestions from the public for interior spaces of city buildings or small structures within a larger named complex.
Names of local importance hold priority, though names of non-local people, events or features are eligible, too.
Naming assets after deceased individuals
The new criteria strongly recommends that city-owned assets be named for deceased, not living, individuals. At least 12 months must pass from the date of death before the name is eligible, to assure that the person’s achievements, reputation and contributions are above reproach. In such cases, the individual must have served as a community role model, shown exemplary leadership or made a positive impact on London. The name of any sworn public safety employee of the city who is killed in the line of duty is eligible after the employee has been deceased for six months.
Naming city-owned assets after living individuals
The city will only consider naming assets after living individuals after exten-sive review. As with deceased individuals, the person to be honored must have served as a role model, shown exemplary leadership or made a positive impact on the city. The naming request must come with evidence of local support in the form of letters from residents and administrative agencies or petitions signed by residents. Additionally, such requests must meet at least one of the following criteria:
• The honoree is a former employee or elected official of the city who has been retired from active service for at least two years;
• Private funding is involved in the acquisition, construction or development of the asset and 50 percent or more of the property is donated or contributed in-kind by the individual or organization;
• A significant amount of money is donated toward the acquisition, construction or development of the asset; or
• A major contribution is made by the individual or organization to enhance the quality of life in London.
Renaming a city-owned asset
The new legislation strongly discourages renaming city-owned assets. Any proposed changes must include a history of the asset and an economic impact review of the cost to the city and the public associated with changing the name. Rules for naming assets after deceased or living individuals or current organizations apply.
Generally, the city development review process handles the naming of city streets and roads. Only in extraordinary circumstances will the city consider suggestions from the public. Proposed names must:
• honor noteworthy individuals associated with London;
• commemorate local and significant history, places or culture;
• strengthen neighborhood identity;
• recognize native wildlife, flora or natural features associated with London; or
• recognize communities that contribute to the diversity of London.
According to the new criteria, a park’s name should describe the park’s geographical location and its historical or ecological connection to London or Madison County. That way, people from outside the area can identify the park.
Features within a park, such as a sports field or shelter house, can be named for individuals, subject to approval from the Playground and Public Recreation Commission.
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