Glendale leaders honor Armenian Americans by voting to name street after Artsakh

17:25 • 14.06.18



In Glendale, there’s a Dublin Drive, a Calafia Street, a Baghdad Place and an Eulalia Street — all named after places in the world, some of which have a connection to the city and others that don’t. But despite being home to the largest Armenian population outside of Armenia, Glendale has no streets named in honor of Armenian American contributions, according to at least one city official.

 

That will change soon, after the City Council made the historic 4-0 vote Tuesday to move forward with changing the name of a two-block portion of Maryland Avenue between Harvard Street and Wilson Avenue to Artsakh Street after the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) , the Los Angeles Times reports.

 

“It's overdue to have some sort of street naming, not a part, not an alley, but a modestly sized street with reference to the current Armenian American community,” said Councilman Ara Najarian after reciting a long list of street names in Glendale, pointing out how arbitrary some name changes can be. “Folks, we have changed street names before. It’s nothing new.”

The decision follows weeks of contentious debate among business owners, Glendale residents and Unified Young Armenians, a group of activists who proposed the name change in February.

 

More than 60 speakers were present at Tuesday’s meeting, which overflowed into the lobby, leading city officials to make room in the Glendale Police Department across the street for people to watch the meeting via television. The majority of attendees were members of Unified Young Armenians, donning black shirts with the organization’s logo. Few business owners and other opponents attended, despite having a strong presence at a Planning Commission hearing in May.

 

Some speakers at the meeting said business owners didn’t attend because they faced intimidation by some members of Unified Young Armenians. One UYA member reportedly posted boycotting signs on businesses after their owners voiced opposition during the Planning Commission meeting.

Those who did attend Tuesday’s meeting said they supported a street name change or plaza in honor of their Armenian neighbors, but they opposed the location, because it would be costly to businesses.

“I understand the reason for wanting a commemoration of Artsakh,” said Pamela Spiszman, chief executive of Pegasus Home Health Care, which has offices in the stretch of Maryland that would be affected. “I know what it’s like to have a history of genocide. As a Jewish American, I understand how important it is to maintain a cultural identity … [But it] does not need to also harm a whole group of business owners.”

 

The resolution passed Tuesday included an appropriation of $131,000 for businesses — $1,000 for each of the 131 businesses on the two-block portion of the street — to help cover costs of reprinting materials with new addresses. Also, businesses would have one year to make the changes.

 

Business owners, however, said that amount isn’t enough. They said they would incur thousands of dollars in costs, though the specific amounts cited varied from $7,000 to $40,000.

Some council members and public speakers said those numbers seemed to be exaggerated and a small price to pay to honor a group of people so important to the community. Supporters of the name change also argued that it would bring tourists to the area that would make up for any costs.

 





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