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Emanuel puts brakes on renaming Stony Island for Bishop Brazier

Bishop Arthur Brazier  2008 | Sun-Times files

Bishop Arthur Brazier in 2008 | Sun-Times files

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Updated: November 17, 2013 6:30AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is putting the brakes on his controversial plan to permanently rename Stony Island Avenue for Bishop Arthrur Brazier amid complaints about the cost and inconvenience to local merchants and residents.

Sources said the street renaming that blindsided African-American aldermen was quietly removed from the agenda at last week’s meeting of the City Council’s Transportation Committee at the request of the committee chairman, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th).

The mayor’s office insisted that it’s only a temporary delay to give the city time to figure out a way to help at least 200 licensed small businesses offset the cost of printing new business cards, stationery and marketing materials.

The Emanuel administration said it is working with the South Shore and Southeast Chicago Chambers of Commerce to ease the transition.

But several aldermen, including Beale, said they hope to use the delay to convince Emanuel to drop the idea altogether and find another way to honor the renowned religious and civil rights leader.

“A street hasn’t been renamed in this city in a very long time. When you start looking at the inconvenience, the cost and things that go along with it — we need to revisit it and see if it’s feasible to move forward,” Beale said.

“You’re talking about potentially putting a bigger hardship on businesses that are already struggling. What other unforeseen costs are out there that we don’t even know about? If you have a will or a trust, you might have to get an attorney to make amendments to those things. I don’t think those things have been thought out.”

City Hall has pegged the cost of replacing its own street signs along Stony Island at $30,000, but Beale 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.

“Everybody loved Bishop Brazier. We’re not going to take anything away from what he did and his lifelong accomplishment. But, we do need to look at this thing from a holistic approach and see what we can do to work it out,” Beale said.

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said she’s been inundated with complaints about the street renaming, some of them from parishioners at the Apostolic Church of God, the megachurch at 6320 S. Dorchester that Brazier built and handed off to his son.

“I respect what the mayor was attempting to do, but there has been quite a bit of push-back. There are multitudes of those who say, ‘We want him to have an honor, but an honorary street as opposed to [permanently] changing the name,” she said.


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