The recent debacle surrounding the renaming of a street in Boone to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a perfect example of getting what you vote for.
The first attempt to rename a street was made on June 20 when town council member Sam Furgiuele made a motion to rename New Market Boulevard after the civil rights leader. The problem was, the property owners and businesses on New Market Boulevard were not notified about this plan. It wasn’t until they discovered it in the Watauga Democrat article that they became aware of the potential renaming. They, like many in the same situation, raised objections to the plan for financial and other reasons. They also objected to the lack of transparency in the failure of the town to notify the affected businesses in advance.
The town council then decided to consider additional streets in Boone for the renaming to include; Meadowview Drive, State Farm Road, Howard Street, and Old East King Street. The council directed town staff to notify the property owners of these streets about a public hearing on Aug. 13.
Just before the public hearing, council member Sam Furgiuele made a new recommendation to rename a portion of Hunting Hill Lane from State Farm Road to the bridge over the South Fork of the New River for MLK. It is unfortunate that the property owners of Hunting Hills Lane were not given a chance to address the proposed name change at the hearing, since they were not notified about the hearing. They also missed the opportunity to hear one of the town council members respond to Furgiuele’s new recommendation with, “I’m not from here, so I don’t know where that street is, but it sounds like a good idea to me.” The residents of Hunting Hills Lane had less than 48 hours to respond to this new recommendation.
On Aug. 15 the Boone Town Council unanimously voted to rename a portion of Hunting Hill Land in honor of MLK.
No matter your opinion about the idea of renaming a street to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this is no way to handle the business of governing. The results are residents from multiple areas of town were alarmed to think that their street name was going to be changed, the residents of the street that is going to be changed were blindsided, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gets a mere 1/8 mile of a street named after him.
With town council elections coming up, I would implore residents of Boone to stop using some predetermined list of candidates and vote for candidates who have the wisdom and knowledge to make good decisions for our community. We can do better than this.