Johnson City Commission votes to designate University Parkway after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Johnson City Commissioners approved the designation of a popular Johnson City road to honor Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This comes after years of pushes from the Johnson City/Washington County chapter of the NAACP and public comment sessions.

News Channel 11 was at the commission meeting tonight where they voted to designate University Parkway, from Market Street to Interstate 26, to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

Mayor David Tomita told us that when you drive on University Parkway, there will be separate signage along the road indicating the designation in honor of King.

Originally, the commission was considering the West King Street and East King Street to Martin Luther King Avenue, but Commissioner Ralph Van Brocklin made a motion for that proposal to be denied, and Commissioner Joe Wise made a second motion.

Directly following that motion, another motion was made by Van Brocklin for University Parkway to be considered and voted upon for making the road designation after King. Van Brocklin said he doesn’t feel the King Street option is what the community wants.

The commission unanimously voted in favor to designate University Parkway to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

The discussion about the renaming followed a presentation by Rev. Lester Lattany of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, who spoke about a letter from certain pastors in the Johnson City and Washington County area saying that they applaud the commission considering the renaming of a street after the Civil Rights leader, but disagreed with the first proposed location of the street renaming.

“We do however respectfully disagree with the Johnson City Planning Commmission’s recommendation to rename King Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard,” Lattany said.

Lattany told the commission that local faith leaders wanted a more recognizable road to be named after King because of his contributions to the country. The local chapter of the NAACP has also been vocal in their support of renaming the road after King and not going with the King Street, King Commons park option.

After the vote, NAACP local chapter president Ralph Davis celebrated in the lobby with other supporters.

“We feel good that we could all come together and come to agreement, feels good right now,” Davis said.

Mayor Tomita told us he feels the commission listened to the community.

“I’m very proud of our commission and my colleagues and the folks here tonight to work towards a compromise and a solution that everybody seemed happy with,” Tomita said.

Tomita told us tonight after the meeting that concerns about 911 call disruptions would not be impacted because the addresses along that road will remain the same because it’s a designation and not a renaming.

City Manager Pete Peterson said following tonight’s vote, the designation of University Parkway will go before the state legislature for consideration and approval in late April of next year, or even earlier.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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