Despite recent public outcry, it’s not uncommon to see Wilmington street signs named after infamous confederate or 1898 figures. That could partly be due to a city-imposed moratorium on applications for street name changes. Now, city leaders are working to resume that process.
The hiatus was implemented in late 2019. At the time, the city was looking at a request to dedicate Third Street in honor of Major General Joseph A. McNeil. City staff raised concerns regarding Wilmington’s apparently outdated and time-consuming name changing process.
Applications continued to be put on hold throughout 2020, even as calls for changes to confederate symbols erupted in the spring. Wilmington spokesman Dylan Lee said the coronavirus pandemic delayed the city’s creation of a new policy.
Flash forward to this week — where city councilmembers approved a resolution authorizing a contract with Fountainworks, a professional services firm. Deputy City Manager, Thom Moton:
“This effort is comprehensive in its nature, and it includes addressing a myriad of issues related to naming or renaming streets. Also, city-owned parks, city buildings, or other facilities — as well as the placement of privately funded memorials on city property.”
The city will work with the firm to create a new strategic plan and policy development. It’s not yet clear if Robert E. Lee Drive is here to stay — but the $35,000 contract could make its retitling a possibility.