Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indianapolis Mayor Ballard Supports Changing 190 Year Old Georgia Street Name

Indianapolis' Georgia Street currently under construction.
I was going to blog my prediction that Mayor Ballard would support changing the Georgia Street name despite the apparent overwhelming public opposition.  Unfortunately the news beat me to the punch. The Indianapolis Star reports:
Some businesses and history buffs are miffed by a plan to change the name of a redeveloped Downtown street.

The initiative, which is backed by Mayor Greg Ballard, would change the name of Georgia Street to . . . well, nobody knows yet.

Indianapolis Downtown Inc. last month conducted a survey asking for suggestions to rename Georgia Street and got more than 3,000 replies. The survey explained that Georgia is being transformed into a three-block long pedestrian mall in time for the Big Ten football championship game in December and the Super Bowl in February.

Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said the goal is to create a "signature" name for the mall that would be recognized nationally, even internationally.

"It is part of the re-engineering of Georgia Street and the re-branding of it," he said. "This will be a new gathering place, a civic institution, like Monument Circle, so we want to market it."

But dissent has been stirring. Historian Joan Hostetler started a Facebook page in an effort to save the Georgia Street name and has been gathering petitions against it.

"I just think it is really shortsighted to change a street name that has been around 190 years for an event like this," Hostetler said. "I just wish they'd have a little more respect for the history of the street name."

Georgia is one of several streets named for states in the original city plat created by Alexander Ralston in 1821. Hostetler noted that another street named for a state, Massachusetts Avenue, has made quite a name for itself.

Hostetler said she worried that the new name might not wear so well in 20 to 25 years.

The city's Metropolitan Development Commission is expected to consider the name change in mid-October, and Ballard would have the final say after that, city officials said.
Ballard, who doesn't seem to care at all about what the public thinks on any issue (e.g. Pacers $33.5 million giveaway, the 50 year parking meter deal, etc.), is plowing forward with the idea despite what appears to be overwhelming public opposition. Where are his political advisers who should be telling Mayor Ballard this is a dumb idea to do this just a few weeks before the election?  After all, if he is dead set on doing this, he could easily wait until after the election.

When people consider former military officers for elected office, the concern is usually that the person won't understand that he or she can't just give an order in politics and have it carried out like one can in the military.  A mayor has to work with others, persuade, twist arms to get things done.

But the flip side of that coin is that military people are also accustomed to taking orders. Throughout his tenure, you get the feeling that Ballard is not really in charge, that he's just taking orders from downtown power brokers in the City and implementing those orders regardless of what the public thinks.  Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. is one of those power brokers.  Mayor Ballard has his orders from IDI about changing the Georgia Street name. That he was going to support the name change regardless of what the public thinks was not a difficult prediction.

To go to the Facebook page to sign the petition to keep the Georgia Street name click here.  Of course, it won't matter to this Mayor if 99% of the residents sign it.  This Mayor simply does not care what the public thinks about anything he does in office.


varangianguard said...

One of the points in the article was that a change this close to Superbowl could make it impossible for GPS companies and Google Maps, for example, to be able to update the new name into their databases.

That will make it invisible "internationally", and the most memorable thing about a ghost name will be that no one could find the dang place.

Is there a single person in the current administration who can think beyond the end of their nose?

If there is, maybe we should suggest naming the street after them?

Nicolas Martin said...

In a contemporary spirit, I would support a change to Benito Mussolini Way. Il Duce would feel right at him in this America.

M Theory said...

How about "Pay To Play Avenue"?

Has a ring to it, huh?

M Theory said...

Varan....you make a very prudent point!

I always have thought you were one of the sharper knives in the drawer.

varangianguard said...

Flatterer. ;)

marksmall2001 said...

Varangianguard makes a good point about the modern tech. But let us please consider the long-term ramifications of this type of naming of public structures. We make history now. Therefore, generations to follow can look at a structure and understand how important a particular corporation was to that community. With the corporation still in existence, it shows a vibrance to the community and lends a sort of continuity to things. Like Conseco Fieldhouse: there's a company that...No, wait. Bad example. Okay, how about the Hilbert Theatre on the Circle that...oops. But there's the RCADome that originally was the Hoosier Dome and I...Okay. What are they going to do, name Georgia Street after Tim Durham or one of his Ponzi companies?