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Ogden Council mulling comprehensive honorary street naming ordinance

By Mitch Shaw standard-Examiner - | Jul 9, 2021

OGDEN — After spending the better part of a year wrestling with a proposed honorary naming of 2nd Street, the Ogden City Council is taking an in-depth look at its process for how such names are approved.

Mainly in an effort to encourage equity and inclusion, but also to more clearly define how honorary street names are accepted and approved by the city, the council is currently parsing through a draft ordinance that would implement a host of new guidelines for the practice.

Honorary street names are not uncommon in Ogden. The designations have been granted to recognize St. Joseph, Ogden and Ben Lomond high schools. In 2018, the city approved a measure that renamed extended portions of 24th and 30th streets after Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez, respectively. But what has been a relatively benign procedure became more complicated in 2020, when Ogden resident Anna Keogh submitted a petition to Ogden City to give the honorary name “Bingham Fort Lane” to 2nd Street from Wall Avenue to Century Drive.

In the mid-1800s, the entire area near 2nd Street west of Wall Avenue served as a fort for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The fort was a gathering spot for about 600 early settlers and was the largest fort in the Weber County area. Keogh’s original petition was meant to honor those settlers, but her proposal was twice modified at the behest of Ogden’s Diversity Commission and some members of the City Council because the Northwestern Shoshone tribe was known to inhabit the area near present day 2nd Street and Wall Avenue.

The prevailing criticism of the initial street name was that it failed to honor the people who first lived in the area and that the word “fort” was indicative of a troubled and often violent history between Native Americans and early European settlers. After consulting with the tribe, Keogh ultimately landed on “Chief Little Soldier Way” for the honorary name. The Ogden City Council will hold a public hearing and consider the proposal on July 13.

During the 2nd Street discussions, Council member Angela Choberka submitted a request to review and consider revising the city’s ordinance that guides honorary street names.

“(The goals was) to review it and provide some recommendations to see how we might make it a little bit better,” Choberka said.

Ogden Council Deputy Director Glenn Symes, said a draft ordinance is in the works, which provides a host of new guidelines for the process.

Street names can be initiated by the Ogden mayor, engineer, council or by city residents under current code. And while the draft ordinance would allow citizens to continue to petition for honorary street names, they would be required to articulate the wider public purpose for the change and meet certain criteria regarding the historical, cultural or neighborhood significance of the name. The draft ordinance also clarifies that names that are similar to existing streets wouldn’t be allowed and that individuals commonly associated with tobacco, alcohol, obscenity, or any sexually oriented business or activity are prohibited.

Another key requirement in the proposed revision is the diversity commission’s involvement in the process.

The diversity commission, along with the city’s planning commission, would review honorary street name proposals for the “positive and potentially negative impacts” of a particular name, then forwarding those findings on to the City Council. Specifically, the diversity commission would study how a particular name could impact communities outside of that which is proposed for designation — namely minority and historically marginalized communities.

The council discussed the proposal during a July 6 work session and will bring ideas to the table during upcoming meetings.


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