Tampa, Florida -- Nebraska Avenue could be in for a name change if a Tampa city councilmember has her way, arguing the road's reputation for drugs, prostitution and other crime may be hampering economic growth.
Those who've been around Tampalong enough will rememberMLK Avenuein Tampa used to be Buffalo Avenue. Kennedy Boulevard was once Lafayette.So road names do get changed from time-to-time.
Ask people like Drew Ridgewaym who have lived around Nebraska their entire lives, and they'll tell youit's well-known for "crime, drugs, everything."
And that's the problem.
Nebraska has a bad reputation. Bad enough, perhaps, to deter economic growth. That's why, in part, Tampa city councilmember Yvonne Yolie Capin says it may be time for a change.She's proposed re-naming Nebraska for Pedro Menendez de Aviles.
"This man founded St. Augustine. The first city ever in North America," says Capin.
Menendez de Aviles was also Florida's first governor 500 years ago, when we were still a Spanish Colony.
But Tampa historians say he was also ruthless.
He's well-known for having wiped outan entire settlement of French Protestants in what's now Jacksonville.
"There's a river in St. Augustine called the Matanzas, which means massacre," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of Tampa's History Museum, "because that's exactly what he did. He literally massacred the French settlers that were there."
Nebraska Avenue actually has a long history too, dating back to the 1870's when settlers from Nebraska came here and used the road to get to downtown Tampa.
SeveralNebraska-named businesses have sprung up over the years, and some might oppose a name change for obvious reasons.
Take Nebraska Tire, for example.
"We want to keep the Nebraska tie, because we're representing the name of Nebraska Avenue, and everyone knows the name Nebraska Avenue," said the store's Joe Portalatin.
The name change itself would also cost money -- tens of thousands just to change the road signs alone.
And what do you do about roads that at least partially have the name Nebraska in them, like Floribraska?
"That'd be a start. A definite start," said Ridgeway.
He hopes maybe a new name would offer the area the catalyst it needs.But John Steele, whose family has lived just a block off Nebraska since the 1920's doesn't think that'll do it.
"I mean, it doesn't matter what you call it," said Steele. "It's still the same place."
Councilwoman Capin concedes it may not ever happen, especially if it's cost-prohibitive.
But she has asked city staff to look into the feasibility ofthe name change, andget back to the city council with cost estimatesand more in about four weeks.