The Grand Junction City Council made it official tonight: North Avenue is staying North Avenue. The council’s August decision to change North Avenue to University Boulevard, an act intended to represent the city’s support of Colorado Mesa University, was unanimously rescinded by all present members.
The council’s decision to rescind came on the heels of community pushback, many of whom felt the decision was unnecessary, overbearing and indicative an unwelcome move towards a college town.
“Let’s not change Grand Junction so much that it becomes the cities that you guys fled to come here to,” Trisa Mannion, a North Avenue supporter, said at the meeting. “Let’s go ahead and grow, let’s change, let’s make things good, but let’s not destroy it in the process.
The community members originally 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 had consistently stayed out of the fray, but officials had grown concerned about how contentious the issue had become.
“It’s just a distraction now,” CMU President Tim Foster said on Oct. 24.
The August decision, originally meant to welcome the growth of CMU, was proposed by Levi Lucero, an 85-year-old booster for the university, and sponsored by CMU20000, a chamber of commerce initiative.
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.
“There’s a lot of misinformation that’s been passed out to the citizens,” Lucero said. “I don’t know what’s made you so angry, and the name calling and so forth.”
In August, Lucero provided the council with a survey he conducted of businesses on North Avenue, asking if they were interested in the name change, according to the document, 79 percent said they were.
Many in the University Boulevard opposition, which banded together as “Keep North 4Ever,” did not believe in the validity of the document. A business owner on North Avenue, specifically Martin’s Mortuary, was one of those who expressed this belief at tonight’s meeting.
“I saw my own business on [the survey]. He did not speak with people inside of my building, I can tell you that now,” LeAnn Leffler, owner of Martin’s Mortuary, said. “Because I’m standing here.”
CMU20000 was intended to signify 15,000 students at the university and 5,000 community supporters, instead, changing North Avenue to University Boulevard seems to have created a division in the city, a belief expressed by many at Wednesday night’s meeting.
“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,” Jeffrey Hurd, chairman of the board for the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, said at the Oct. 24 meeting. “And the bigger picture is a dynamic and growing CMU that benefits us as a community.”
An in-depth story will be available in print and online on Tuesday.