Melbourne city leaders discuss street name change

City Council meeting was moved to larger building to accommodate expected crowd

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

MELBOURNE, Fla. - A plan to honor a civil rights leader is getting pushback in Melbourne. 

Melbourne City Council members want to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by renaming Airport Boulevard to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, but one local businessman said the name change will have an impact on his newly opened business. 

Manar Alaachek opened Falafal Stop along Airport Boulevard in August 2018.

As a new business owner, he is trying to build foot traffic and said opening a business along a street that's not popularly known already has its challenges. 

"Airport Boulevard is not a very popular name. It's just one street. Not everybody knows airport boulevard," Alaachek said. 

He said the name change would cost his business customers and money he will have to spend to change the address on his business materials.

"Trying to force the name and market our business at Airport Boulevard for awhile and then all of a sudden we have to change it to a different name," Alaachek said. 

For more than 30 years, city leaders have attempted to make the name change, but every time it has failed. 

Melbourne City Councilman Tim Thomas said councilors continue to push. 

"They don't want to give up on this. They want to try to find a way that we can come to honor the legacy of Dr. King," Thomas said. 

Thomas said the city wants to show its respect and pay homage to King.

"Airport history has always been one of the popular roads that's been recommended by the African American community to be renamed. They've always wanted a street close to the downtown area. Close to the heart of downtown that is diverse and inclusive," Thomas said. 

Thomas addressed the concerns businesses owners such as Alaachek had in regard to the financial effect of a name change. 

Councilwoman Julie Sanders said she wanted to hear what the public has to say before making a decision. 

Tuesday's City Council meeting was moved to the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place to accommodate an expected large crowd. 
 

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