Calhoun Expressway renaming placed on hold

Augusta’s John C. Calhoun Expressway will keep its name after city commissioners put a renaming effort on hold Tuesday. File/Staff

A push to rename John C. Calhoun Expressway for someone other than the 19th century politician is on hold after the Augusta Commission member backing the effort failed to secure adequate support for the change.

 

Bill Fennoy, who represents the area around the downtown commuter route, moved Tuesday to put his proposal “back on the agenda at a later time” at a commission meeting after several commissioners indicated they would not support it.

“I wanted to give me a little time to discuss the issue with my colleagues,” Fennoy said. “It took Yale two years before they changed.”

The District 1 commissioner raised the name issue last month after Yale University announced it was renaming its Calhoun College because of widespread disapproval of the South Carolina statesman’s pre-Civil War devotion to slavery.

“Normally, when we name a building, street, road or room, it’s someone that has had a positive impact on this community or on this country,” Fennoy said.

Calhoun’s name was recycled in 1966 for the expressway under design after a much older road, Calhoun Street, was subsumed by an extension of Walton Way.

Fennoy said that he won’t revive the item at least until after the Masters Tournament a month away but that he hopes the state will take the lead in renaming the state route.

“I’m hoping the state will address it,” he said. “They don’t need us to do it.”

The thorny issue drew strong opinions, especially among older whites, but the name change failed to secure support Tuesday from any of the commission’s black majority besides Fennoy. Commissioner Marion Williams maintained after the unanimous 9-0 vote, with Fennoy abstaining, that the name is not a priority for him.

In another matter, the commission reviewed extensive recommendations for updating city trash pickup from Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson but took no action.

The recommendations include cost-saving measures such as phasing out the Recycling Perks, an underused coupon rewards program to encourage recycling; eliminating a planned third compressed natural gas station, which Johnson said is no longer needed because of reduced demand because of lower fuel prices; and reverting to the former system for collecting yard waste that leaves excess piles behind to pick up later instead of tagging them.

Johnson also recommended increasing fees for vacant lot cutting and cleaning, which he said are lower than most lawn services; enacting a “flow control” ordinance requiring waste generated in Augusta to go to the city landfill; and studying the cost of issuing a bond to cover the cost of a five-year backlog in demolishing blighted buildings.

He suggested replacing downtown curbside pickup used by businesses and residents with a central service location, adding two positions to collect scrap tires and tighten the city’s scrap tire ordinance and revive and staff a Keep Augusta Beautiful chapter to educate the public and coordinate community efforts.

The commission voted to notify local judges of its intention to amend the order the commission approved last year establishing the Richmond County Probation Office to remove the requirement that probation officers be certified Georgia law enforcement officers. Dennis Williams and Wayne Guilfoyle abstained from voting.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

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Mon, 09/18/2017 - 16:43

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