Progress, it seems, is rarely quick and never easy.
Two years ago this month, we implored Grand Junction City Council members to change North Avenue to University Boulevard, citing a competitive location assessment that stressed the importance of establishing a stronger connection between Colorado Mesa University and the rest of the community for economic gain.
The report was part of a consultant’s evaluation of marketing and branding efforts related to economic development. We noted the timing provided the perfect opportunity to brand the city as a university town and recognize the school’s $450 million annual impact on the local economy.
Two years later, the name change has resurfaced amid a new campaign to boost CMU’s enrollment. While we’re delighted that the council is slated to vote on a resolution to rename North Avenue in the next month or two, the arguments in favor of the change are, unfortunately, largely one-dimensional.
Making CMU the focus of the change obscures the greater good that will occur for the entire community. The City Council seems sold on the idea for now — until the naysayers come out of the woodwork crying favoritism or questioning how a name change is going to transform North Avenue.
Our fear is the pitch that was made to the council Monday will be played by the opposition as a selfish move for the sole benefit of CMU that poses a burden to businesses along the North Avenue corridor.
The council should be clear that this is a bold first step to making North Avenue relevant again. Kevin Bray, with the North Avenue Owners Association, indicated businesses along the corridor are generally supportive, but he requested that the city develop a plan that addresses improvements.
Council members should be clear that CMU stands to benefit the least. If anything, a name change is an attempt to cash in on the university’s landmark status and forge a clear identity. It looks progressive to outsiders and shows pride that we are a university town.
A name change dovetails nicely with the CMU 20000 campaign,but as we’ve already indicated, it’s long overdue. A name change is not going to magically change North Avenue overnight. But coupled with slated improvements through an urban renewal designation — sidewalks, landscaping and refreshed business facades — a name change would promote a sense of progress to match substantive regeneration.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,” the Irish playwright and polemicist George Benard Shaw once said.
Duke Wortmann, the council’s newest member, thinks people want change. “They’re tired of sitting on stop,” he said.
We hope he’s right. But the council should be prepared to contend with opponents because resisting change is a time-honored tradition in the Grand Valley.