The Rockingham City Council will be asked to consider renaming a street in a centrally-located neighborhood on Tuesday, and councilmen will be saying goodbye to the city’s longtime mayor, Gene McLaurin.
This will be McLaurin’s last meeting as mayor. Early next month he will be sworn in as this area’s newest state senator.
The council’s regular monthly meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 in council chambers at City Hall, 514 Rockingham Road.
First up is a request from the Rockingham Housing Authority to rename Hood Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
In a letter dated Sept. 27, 2012, Joe Mendola, RHA Commissioner, proposed the name change to the city’s planning and zoning department.
Mendola wrote that the Rockingham Housing Authority Board of Commissioners was requesting the name change, as proposed to the housing authority by the Hood Street Committee.
“It is our fiduciary responsibility to our residents and the surrounding community to be a leader in promoting positive change,” wrote Mendola.
“Over the past few years we have strived to promote community awareness and involvement through programs and activities hosted by and at the Rockingham Housing Authority facilities. We have found when discussing the location of Falling Creek Recreational Park; the name ‘Hood’ Street projects a stigmatism that deflects from a thriving community in which our facility is a part of.
“Though the name ‘hood’ means nurture, balance, and family; the meaning over the years has acquired the opposite perception,” Mendola wrote. “Falling Creek Recreational Park falls victim to this brand by association with the street it is housed on.”
City staff, in a report to the Planning and Zoning Board, recommended a public hearing be held on the requested name change. If no significant opposition is received from the current residents living along Hood Street, the city staff recommends the street name be changed from Hood Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
In the report, staff noted that the process for changing a street name includes a review by the Planning and Zoning Board and approval by the City Council.
“A public hearing is not required; however since residents along the street will be directly affected and inconvenienced by a change of address, City staff recommends the residents be notified and a public hearing held by the City Council,” the reports states.
Approximately 19 single-family residences along with the Falling Creek Park and Palisades Park — no longer in use — will be affected by the proposed street name change, according to planning staff.
City staff is unsure where the name Hood Street originated. A local historian researched the matter but was unable to conclude for whom the street may have been named, the report said.
The City Council may decide to set the matter for a public hearing on a future date.
For McLaurin, Tuesday will be his last meeting as mayor. He earned the District 25 State Senate seat in the November General Election.
McLaurin, a Democrat, competed for the senate job against retired teacher Gene McIntyre, a Republican from New London. Both men were after the post held by Democrat William Purcell, who chose not to run for another term. The district includes Richmond, Scotland, Anson and Stanly counties.
McLaurin will resign as mayor and expects to be sworn in to the state senate on Jan. 9, 2013.
The council will have to act to accept his resignation and appoint a new mayor, as set forth in the city charter. That person will then serve out the remainder of McLaurin’s current term, through the end of 2013. McLaurin said the City Council could choose the new mayor from among their own ranks, but that isn’t mandatory. He said it is likely the councilmen will select one of their own to be the mayor, and then that would create a vacancy on the council. If that happens, the council would look for a new face to appoint to the position.
The Dec. 11 agenda also includes the council:
• Considering approval of the annual certification of firemen roster.
• Hearing a presentation of the fiscal year audit for the year ending June 30, 2012, by Ken Anderson, CPA of Anderson, Smith & Wike, PLLC.