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Neighbors, church at odds over street name change | News

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Neighbors, church at odds over street name change
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It's been Haywood Road for decades.

That's why some longtime neighbors don't want the street renamed for the late Reverend Marshell Stenson Junior, who served as pastor at Macon's St. Luke Baptist Church for 44 years.

Stenson died in December and church members asked the Macon-Bibb commission to rename the street, where the church sits, after him.

"We don't feel like the church did enough for that," Wendell Glover, a longtime neighbor, said.

They say the church didn't reach out to the community, like cleaning up neighbors' yards, giving away free groceries or helping pay light bills.

"By your church being on the end of the street doesn't make you part of the community. Basically what you do is ride up and down the street, you go to your service, and you go home," Evelyne Glover-Evans said.

"We've been living here since 1956. Haywood Road is our legacy. It's a part of us," she added.

Other neighbors say it'd be a hassle to get documents changed, even though church members say they'd be willing to help if anyone needed it.

Church members say they can't think of a better person to name the street after.

"Let's give honor where honor is due," one church member said.

Cheryl Andrews says Stenson Jr. was like a father figure to her.

"He's been a safe haven for our community for the 44 years he served at St. Luke Baptist Church and I just feel like in my heart that would be a deserving honor for him," Andrews said.

At that request, Macon-Bibb's commission unanimously voted to rename the street months ago.

But commissioner Al Tillman says that decision was premature.

"It's null and void because by law you have to advertise and do all the proper steps," TIllman said. "This government body did not take all the proper steps. We'll look into that process also and see where we as a new commission dropped the ball."

Tillman, who chairs the facilities and engineering committee, says more than 25 neighbors signed a petition against the renaming.

"From the beginning of Haywood all the way to the church itself, before I got to the church there were at least 13 signs that said, 'Do not change the name of our street,'" Tillman said.

Because for those who call Haywood home, it's a change they're just not willing to make.

"To rename our street after someone who hasn't done anything for our neighborhood, that just doesn't make sense to me," Glover-Evans said. "I'm irritated that you want to change the name, period. Why? You've done no more for that community than my mother did. So maybe we'll change it to Amanda Glover Drive."

Commissioner Elaine Lucas, who represents that district, proposed the original resolution to change the street name.

She says she plans to re-submit that resolution for another vote.


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