New Albany officials discover subdivision's street names reference Southern plantations
On Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, New Albany officials were informed that street names in the Planters Grove subdivision are associated with Southern plantations, according to a news release sent Jan. 21 by the city.
The following day, City Manager Joseph Stefanov directed staff members to begin the process of reviewing street names throughout New Albany to see how many might have such an association, according to the news release.
“It is important that we address this issue in a holistic way,” Stefanov said in a statement. “We need to know the number of streets that may be impacted and develop a process for a thorough and respectful discussion.”
The Planters Grove subdivision, built by the New Albany Co., is about 30 years old, city spokesman Scott McAfee said.
Street names in New Albany are chosen by developers and typically are associated with noteworthy architectural sites, internationally respected civic planners, places of historical significance and local New Albany families, the city's news release said.
The streets in question are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the release said.
The street names found to have an association with plantations in Maryland and Virginia are Bremo, Tuckahoe, Wilton, Carters Grove and Evelyton, McAfee said.
Street names in Planters Grove neighborhood date back to the early 1990s, when the subdivision was established, in recognition of the historic aspect of the architecture of the neighborhood, the release said.
“New Albany is a welcoming community, and we must be sensitive to the negative connotation street names associated with Southern plantations may have for our friends, neighbors and potential future neighbors,” Mayor Sloan Spalding said in a statement. “I am committed to fostering a thoughtful and transparent community dialogue about this issue."
McAfee said it's very early in the process and no decisions have been made how to proceed on the matter, but he acknowledged it’s an important issue when racial tensions in the country are running high.
“What we are doing is taking a step and reviewing the street names throughout the community and the potential for this type of association,” he said. “We anticipate there will be a community conversation about this, but we don’t know what that will look like, and we don’t know how prevalent the issue is.”