Plan to Rename Stony Island After Bishop Brazier Delayed

Question of cost, motive come into play; City Hall says delay is temporary

Discussion on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to rename a south side thoroughfare after Bishop Arthur Brazier was absent from Wednesday's City Council agenda, removed over concerns from aldermen about the costs involved and the problems it would cause businesses in the area.

Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) said the proposal remains "under discussion," and added that Brazier will get a proper tribute but said the idea didn't make it out of the council's Transportation Committee as planned.

Emanuel floated the renaming last month as a way to honor Brazier, who founded the Woodlawn Organization and for decades advocated for better housing and schools.

But some merchants and aldermen said changing the name of Stony Island Avenue to Reverend Bishop Brazier Avenue would burden small businesses -- they'd have to reprint business cards, signage and promotional materials -- and cost too much for a financially-strapped city.

Emanuel's proposal is a full renaming -- changing out the green street signs -- and not just an honorary renaming, where brown signs are added.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

City Hall has pegged the cost of replacing its own street signs along Stony Island at $30,000, but [Ald. Anthony] Beale (9th) believes that’s a low-ball figure. He also questioned whether the Emanuel administration has enough sign-hangers to do the job at a time when there’s a huge backlog of sign-hanging requests.

Others question the location of the renaming.

"Brazier had no particular connection to Stony Island, aside from his Apostolic Church of God being a few blocks away on 63rd Street," wrote Michael Milner in a Chicago Reader post earlier this month.

Brazier's family was thrilled with the idea, and political sources questioned whether the mayor was trying to improve his image with African American voters. The mayor denied an ulterior motive.

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