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Why isn’t there a street named for Sonny Jurgensen or Roman Gabriel?

Hunter Ingram
StarNews
Quarterback Sonny Jurgensen (9) of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during the Redskins 28-28 tie with the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 22, 1967. AP photo

Quarterback Sonny Jurgensen (9) of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during the Redskins 28-28 tie with the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 22, 1967. AP photo

Q. Since there is a Michael Jordan Blvd and a Martin Luther King Dr., why haven’t we named a Sonny Jurgensen and Roman Gabriel drive?

A. The short answer is, because no one has gone through the somewhat arduous process it would take to get a street named for either of these two NFL football greats, both Wilmington natives who played for New Hanover High School.

There is no Michael Jordan Boulevard, but a stretch of Interstate 40 was named after Michael Jordan in 1991.

Streets are given their names, in most cases, by the developers constructing the new roads and properties.

But in some cases, a street with a pre-existing name can be changed if there is enough support from the community and at least 51 percent of the people living on the property in question.

To seek a street renaming, those interested must submit a “Street Naming/Renaming Application” and accompanying $250 application fee. Once all information and signatures have been obtained, the City Manager and City Council can consider the ordinance at a regularly scheduled meeting.

When comes to naming streets after notable figures, the city of Wilmington, in most cases, does not deny viable requests.

“We can’t really approve a historical name, but deny another proper name,” said Jim Sahlie, GIS manager for the City of Wilmington.

This option, however, is in the hands of those submitting the request.

“In most cases, the city is not in the business of naming streets,” said Sahlie, noting that vulgar or offensive proposals will be struck down.

There have, however, been past cases where the city approved requests for renaming streets.

Perhaps most notable was the case made in 2001 by the New Hanover County chapter of the NAACP, which requested that Smith Creek Parkway be renamed in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. The distinction has been granted in several North Carolina cities.

After a yearlong process, the request moved through the city council and was approved by the state Board of Transportation (which had final approval because the road is state-maintained).

To request a street naming or renaming application, contact Sahlie at jim.sahlie@wilmingtonnc.gov or by calling 910-341-5826; or Frances Downs at frances.downs@wilmingtonnc.gov or 910-342-2723.

To review the city’s Addressing Standards & ProceduresManual, visit http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/Portals/0/documents/Development%20Services/Development%20and%20Site%20Plan%20Review/Addressing%20Standards%20and%20Procedures%20Manual.pdf).

RELATED LINKS:

Why do Wilmington and Philadelphia have so many street names in common?

Why do so many streets change names at intersections?

User-contributed question by:
betsy casey

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