BELTON (March 26, 2013)—A group of Belton residents continues to push to rename a street in honor of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., arguing that the city’s street-renaming policy was applied retroactively.
Belton's African American Churches United requested the city change the name of 2nd Street to honor King in January 2012, but at that time the city did not have a policy in place for renaming streets.
Months after the request, a policy was established that requires the city to send ballots to residents on a street for which a name change has been proposed.
The policy says 70 percent of the residents must favor the name change and non-responses are counted as votes against.
"Everybody agreed at the end of the process, saying this is a good policy," city spokesman Paul Romer said.
The proposal to rename 2nd Street was rejected under the policy and the group tried again, proposing to rename Alexander and South Davis Streets in Belton’s historic district in King’s honor.
That effort also failed.
Supporters of the name change say the city’s policy is flawed and should not have been applied to the original request retroactively.
"It's been done at all the other cities because Rev. King made a tremendous contribution to our country and to all people," said Rev. Dr. William Hill, Belton's AACU chairman.
"We have tried to do the impossible dream," Hill said.
"We've followed all the policies that were established by the city council."
City officials say their hands are tied.
"We made a good faith effort to follow it, but we're at a crossroads now," Romer said.
Council members discussed the policy Tuesday night, but took no action.
Hill and AACU members said they're not giving up.
"We're going to ride off and fight another day,” Hill said.