The latest skirmish in a west side war of words was fought Thursday, and the people fighting for the return of the Old Highway 90 name lost this round.
The fight represents an identity crisis for more than 100 business owners on a busy commercial street. And it’s an issue that they may have to wait five years to fight.
Back in 2015, District 6 Councilman Ray Lopez led an effort to change the name of the street to Enrique M. Barrera Parkway.
Business owner Mike Cooremans, who is one of the leaders of a fight to reverse the change, said that 120 out of 153 businesses his group surveyed wanted desperately to keep the historic Old Highway 90 name.
Cooremans says that Lopez has ignored the will of the stakeholders from the outset.
"He was stubborn, arrogant, and now he's made it vindictive," Cooremans said.
Now Councilman Lopez is at the end of his term limit and is leaving the city council, but one of his last acts was to suggest a policy revision that puts a five-year moratorium on changing the names of streets that have already seen a name change.
The new rule applies city-wide.
"First, he didn't listen to us. Now he wants to put in a rule to shut us up for five years, kind of like, ‘You have to take it,’" Cooremans said.
Councilman Lopez told his council colleagues that the process has been fair.
"I know folks that are not in support of it look at it as me trying to instill some sort of iron fist over the process and, indeed, that's not the case at all," he said.
District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher asked for clarification on the rules, and city staff agreed that whomever takes over the District 6 seat might be able to bring the issue back for a vote sooner. But there are no guarantees.
The motion approving the five-year ban carried, with only Councilman Ron Nirenberg siding with the group.
In regards to what happens next, a petition drive to overturn the vote has already started.
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