GJ Sentinel: North Avenue Switching to University Boulevard

Council OKs North Avenue name change

Switch to University Boulevard becomes official in March 2018

By Amy Hamilton
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bye, bye North Avenue.

Make way for University Boulevard.

An idea that percolated for years to change the name of the street, thanks to initial efforts by local resident Levi Lucero, got the green light Wednesday night. The Grand Junction City Council voted 5-2 to make the name change for the four-mile route from First Street to the Interstate 70 Business Loop.

Councilors Phyllis Norris and Duncan McArthur opposed renaming the roadway.

Kevin Bray, with the North Avenue Owners’ Association, said Lucero literally pounded the pavement for years, visiting with North Avenue business owners over the idea.

The route is about four miles long, but, “Levi has managed to put in more than 100 miles,” Bray said, addressing councilors.

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Schwenke said support for a name change to align with Colorado Mesa University was one of the first things business owners proposed in focus meetings with community leaders about economic development. About 1,000 people signed the latest petition in favor of the name change.

“We get much more from the university than it gets from us,” she said, about the increased visibility the newly named street will bring.

Schwenke said the chamber is willing to help businesses “navigate the name change.”

North Avenue officially becomes University Boulevard on March 1, 2018. After that date, business owners still can receive mail at North Avenue addresses for the following 12 months.

The city of Grand Junction expects to spend $22,000 and nearly 350 labor hours to create new signage for the corridor.

A few people on Wednesday expressed dismay over the proposed name change, calling the project a waste of money and arguing that the change dismisses the street’s historical significance, or that it amounts to a change in name only and won’t help to bring back its hey-day as a robust retail route.

Randy Emmons, owner of Randy’s Southside Diner, said he couldn’t have been prouder than when he opened his North Avenue location, 2430 North Ave.

North Avenue has a special connection for him and if money is going to be spent, it should be spent sprucing up the street and not on changing its name.

Norris said she’s opposed to a name change because if the issue went to a vote, she doesn’t think voters would agree to it.

McArthur said the road’s historical significance — as U.S. Highway 6 it is also dubbed the Grand Army of the Republic Highway — should be celebrated.

He argued CMU has little frontage on North Avenue, and that the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center is just as visible.

“I would rather see us embellish the historical nature, rather than bury it,” he said.

At the meeting’s end, Lucero said he was proud to see the shift in thinking in the past five years toward acceptance of a name change.

Lucero, who said he has worked in higher education since CMU was a junior college, said the idea for the road to be named after the institution was an item on his “bucket list.”

“I want to give my thanks to all of you who supported this,” Lucero said, and he was swiftly treated to a standing ovation.

North Avenue denoted Grand Junction’s northern boundary in 1881 when George Crawford of the Grand Junction Town Company named it, according to the city’s report.

The naming of North Avenue and South Avenue “was likely as much a matter of practicality as anything else. While the names given by the Town Company have remained, changing the name of North Avenue to University Boulevard, a change first suggested by Levi Lucero, a longtime resident of the city, is wholly consistent with Crawford’s pioneering spirit,” the resolution states.

Alex Chaffetz