May 22 will be named “Harvey Milk Day” in honor of the late gay rights icon but a proposal to also name a residential street after him will have to wait. Commissioners scuttled the renaming plan in April because the city hadn’t notified any affected homeowners of the plan.
Mayor Justin Flippen proposed both issues in a single resolution that established Harvey Milk Day and also designated Northeast and Northwest 21st Court as “Harvey Milk Court.” But after much discussion, commissioners declined to make the street change, saying the city first needed to establish a policy that would outline a procedure for making name changes.
Harvey Milk made history when he became one of the first openly gay officials in the U.S. in 1977, after being elected to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, according to his biography. He was shot to death the following year, by a former member of the Board of Supervisors who perceived Milk’s presence as a breakdown in traditional values and a growing acceptance of homosexuality.
Flippen said he proposed the resolution because he wanted the city to honor Milk because of his significant civil rights contributions. His colleagues agreed on Milk’s societal contributions but not on the renaming process.
“City property belongs to all the inhabitants of the city. It doesn’t belong to a couple people,” Commissioner Paul Rolli said at the April 23 commission meeting. “I think the first thing we do is create a process.”
Rolli said the city needs to hold public outreach sessions so city residents can weigh in.
He said there are 80 impacted properties on Northeast and Northwest 21st Court that need to be notified. He also wondered if the Post Office, the Broward County Property Appraiser and 911 should be contacted for input.
“We are at a critical juncture in the city in terms of overall change,” Rolli said. “We are at the front door of the future. We need to make some really significant decisions.”
Commissioner Julie Carson agreed, saying the city needs to get the issue out before the public to get a “big feel for what people want.”
“I didn’t have the opportunity to do that and that concerns me,” Carson said. “I want to know how all the residents feel. Let’s develop a plan and policy for how to name city parks and city streets.”
Dania Beach has a well-thought-out policy that addresses such issues, Carson noted.
“I want it done in a holistic and complete way,” Carson said.
Commissioner Gary Resnick voiced support for designating a street after Milk but agreed the city needs to create a formal process for such endeavors.
Vice Mayor Tom Green wondered if naming Jaycee Park after Milk might be a better option. He said a park would be a place where visitors could take photos.