Controversial street name in Richmond’s northside could soon change

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A controversial Richmond street name could soon change.

On Tuesday, a city council committee voted to move forward with changing Confederate Avenue to Laburnum Park Boulevard. The street sits on the city’s northside.

Neighbors tell 8News the effort started when a small group of Confederate Avenue residents came together and decided they would do what it takes to get the name changed. The idea was then picked up and endorsed by councilmembers Kim Gray and Chris Hilbert. Because of Tuesday’s vote, the full city council is expected to make the final vote next month.

Confederate Avenue is a street with only about 60 houses but some passionate people living inside them.

“Even semantics makes a difference for how people feel about a street and a neighborhood,” said John Sexton, a resident on Confederate Avenue. “We’ve lived here for almost seven years and it’s always been…kind of strange to have my address be Confederate Avenue.”

Sexton noted he is originally from Connecticut, where confederate commemorations are rarely present. “I think the name brings a lot of baggage that isn’t necessary,” he said.

Notably, Senator Tim Kaine resides on the street. Speaking with 8News Wednesday, Kaine said of the name change,”We reached a sizable consensus among the 60 or so households on the street that the name was no longer appropriate.”

Kaine adds the effort started three to four years ago between his neighbors. The senator said he and his wife, Anne Holton, were an active part of the conversation from the beginning.

Folks in favor of the name change told 8News the label is “embarrassing” and is exclusive. A street name requires a replacement, however.

Neighbors told 8News that a survey was sent to everyone on the street. First, they were asked if they want to change the name. Once a majority of residents said they were in favor, neighbors say the toughest part was picking the new name.

“We’ve learned that choosing a new name is not an easy process,” Sexton said.

Roughly 35 new name options were eventually narrowed down to one: Laburnum Park Boulevard.

“This is something we wanted. We followed the city process to do it, and I’m going to be very excited when the vote happens likely in November for the name change,” Kaine said.

The proposed name is already causing a bit of stress for some folks living on the street. On Wednesday, some residents expressed concern that “Laburnum Park Boulevard” is too similar to the well-known “Laburnum Avenue”, which is just two blocks away. They said Richmond already has its fair share of mailing issues, and worry the name could cause more problems.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.

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