It has been two months since the Grand Junction City Council originally voted to change the name of North Avenue, the principal street on which Colorado Mesa University resides, to University Boulevard. On Wednesday night, they took a major step to take that decision back.
The council unanimously voted to write a resolution rescinding their decision after a discussion amongst council members and community members input. This decision will be voted on Nov. 1.
The council’s decision was brought about by a letter from CMU20000, a Grand Junction Area of Commerce group that initially proposed the name change, the organization asked the city council to keep North Avenue the way it is.
CMU20000 wrote that they believed the initiative was a “distraction” from the efforts they had hoped to accomplish in the future.
Jeffrey Hurd, chairman of the board for the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, spoke first on the issue and urged the city council to rescind their decision on the name change.
“Instead of bringing the community and the university together, this small piece of CMU20000 ended up diverting energy and attention away from the bigger picture,” Hurd said. “And the bigger picture is a dynamic and growing CMU that benefits us as a community.”
Hurd also said that CMU20000 would not attempt another name change, on North Avenue, 12th Street or any other. Hurd requested the council instead vote for a resolution supporting the university and CMU20000, and create a task force to connect the university and the Grand Junction community.
Levi Lucero, an 85-year-old booster for the university, originally proposed the University Boulevard name change.
“Communities that have university boulevards are proud of their universities,” Lucero said in CMU’s Maverick Magazine, which featured a story about the name change. “That’s the bottom line.”
Lucero came to the city council in August with the proposal and the council passed the resolution, 5-2. The change was supposed to come into effect in March of 2018.
Backlash had spawned within members the Grand Junction community following the decision’s announcement in August, and opposition groups grew on social media.
The community members cited the unnecessary cost to the city associated with the change, as well as the costs that would be rested upon the business owners who would be expected to pay for relevant government form changes, lost business over confused customers and general complications from such a change.
“If this goes through as it’s on the books now, it’s going to definitely damage my business,” Jeff McCloskey, a business owner on North Avenue, said during a city council meeting in September. “I would appreciate if you’d look out for small business owners, not just CMU; there’s more than one on North Avenue.”
The city costs were expected to reach $22,000, largely for changing the street signs, but the chamber of commerce offered to pay for such costs.
This act did not appease the community members opposed to the change and they continued to voice their discontent at city council meetings, distributed “Keep North 4 Ever” signs for North Avenue businesses to display and gathered signatures for petitions.
The university itself has consistently stayed out of the fray, but now officials are concerned about how contentious the issue has become.
“It’s just a distraction now,” CMU President Tim Foster said.
After much debate, the council members also to voted to discuss the resolution supporting CMU20000 and creating a task force on Nov. 1, at the next city council meeting.