MELBOURNE, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - A proposal in Melbourne, to rename Airport Boulevard after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is stirring controversy, after it clears its first major hurdle toward becoming a reality.
Those for and against the dedication squared off during a council meeting on Tuesday evening. The meeting was held inside a hotel banquet hall, because the crowds exceeded the normal size. The proposal received its first reading before passage on a vote of six to one.
“There is too much racism that exists as it pertains to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s that simple,” said Leonard Ross, a long-time resident of Melbourne and civic leader.
Ross is excited, because ever since the 1980s, there have been calls for renaming a city street for the Rev. King, but this time, he says it feels like it could actually pass.
“I hope and pray it does, and to be perfectly frank, this is as close as we’ve ever been before,” Ross added.
Opponents -- primarily business owners along the roadway -- have expressed concern that a change of the street name would mean a change of address, which could cause confusion.
“Well it’s something new, so it may hurt some of the businesses,” said a barber shop owner on Airport Blvd. “A lot of people know this as Airport; they don’t know it as Martin Luther King.”
He said he worries about having to to spend money to print new business cards and the print advertisements he bought will be outdated.
The next reading and vote is scheuled to take place on July 7.