What’s in a name? Apparently everything or, perhaps, nothing

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

And so it goes in Happy Valley once again.

Up next is another citizen-based effort to order the rest of us to change to suit someone else’s idea of what would be best for the masses. This time it’s renaming North Avenue to University Boulevard.

As expected, the folks initiating the idea offer plenty of “benefits” the rest of us just won’t understand, along with a host of reasons as to why this change is so desperately needed.

I’ve known about the move to change the name of North Avenue for a while. But it was a visit to my office from a very amiable gentleman by the name of Levi Lucero that sparked the topic for this column. Levi tells a great success story he’s happy to share —a story I believe everyone should hear. Levi came up from nothing as a kid from the eastern side of Colorado and created a prosperous life for himself and his family in Grand Junction. Now Levi spends his time telling this story and advocating many ideas and things he believes will be in the best interest of our fair city and valley. One of the first things I told him after hearing his pitch was exactly that.

And then he said something that never really sits well with me: “I need to convince you this is the right thing for North Avenue.” My first thought was: “Without asking my opinion, why are you convinced I need convincing?” Perhaps it was the look on my face that showed I had little interest in the name change. Maybe it was my asking just who was out there advocating for the folks who don’t want the name change (since my experience tells me they’re too busy running their businesses and living their lives to stem the tide of the folks with the vested interest in the proposal are spending a lot of time doing). Perhaps it was my response that basically said this is treating a symptom instead of the disease.

Truth be told, I don’t really have an opinion on the name change. I do have concerns, however.

Let me remind readers I come from the northern suburbs of Detroit, where 16 Mile Road is named Metropolitan Parkway, Big Beaver Road (yes, that’s real) and Quarton Road — all over a stretch of perhaps 10 miles. So I know roads can have crazy names and multiple names. So to me, whether we rename North Avenue or leave it the same, the fact is the corridor is an older business area in need of revitalization. Isn’t that what a nearly $1.2 million grant the city received was dedicated to address? Isn’t that the reason for the North Avenue Owners Association? There’s also another entity I have never heard of, the City of Grand Junction North Avenue Steering Committee. Gee, perhaps with all of these entities with North Avenue in their names, that should be enough to not change the street to University Boulevard for fear of a loss of identity.

But then there’s Colorado Mesa University itself. It’s very easily argued the university is an economic engine for the area and growing influence in the region in providing a destination for a quality higher education and creating great recognition for the Grand Valley. That’s why the university changed its name a couple of years ago — to reflect those qualities and set itself apart from other institutions. But that’s the university’s name, which makes sense. Quite frankly, students attend Colorado Mesa University because of the value offered to students, not because of the name on the street that runs in front of the institution.

I see no reason to change the name of North Avenue because it’s not needed.  And I won’t even begin to address the argument the name should be changed because North Avenue is no longer the northern end of town. My goodness, then we’ll need to change the name of South Avenue and begin looking to see if there’s East or West streets somewhere out there. Truth be told, changing the name of a street is just a hassle and cosmetic answer to actually getting some economic drivers into the older areas, properties and buildings that will eventually occur over time based on the laws of economics and not government grants — as the past four years have shown. So why not try that first?

I will, however, suggest we do change some road names in the Grand Valley. Have you ever tried to order a pizza or place a catalog order with all of the 1/4s, 1/2’s and 3/4s out here? It’s damned near impossible. What about some poor sucker who lives at (and this made up) 1824 1/2 B, J 3/10 Road. He’ll never get a hot pie delivered. Now there’s a reason for a name change. Unless we’re changing the 600 block of North Avenue to Business Times Boulevard, then you’re on to something.

Here’s a thought. Let’s rename the few blocks of North Avenue adjacent to the university University Boulevard, where it makes sense. Then we won’t have to waste valuable time and resources, not to mention disrupt the lives of a whole bunch of folks.

Hey, it worked for Big Beaver. And they have a Neiman Marcus.