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Posted on Tue, Jan. 15, 2002
Apalachee change bad for business

By David Twiddy
DEMOCRAT CAPITOL BUREAU
 

Renaming road is costly; many unhappy with bill Fleet Pride says he considers himself a good Republican and admires the accomplishments of former President Ronald Reagan.

But the dive shop manager can't support the idea of renaming Apalachee Parkway after Reagan. Not a year and a half after Tallahassee and state officials installed a concrete median down the center of the parkway, diverting some of his potential customers.

"I think they've done enough to Apalachee Parkway to hurt the businesses on Apalachee Parkway," said Pride, manager of Blue Water Scuba and Travel Center. "They don't need to do anything else."

State Rep. Johnnie Byrd, R-Plant City, last week proposed a bill that replaces the road's 1957 American Indian moniker with that of the 40th president.

It would affect the parkway from North Monroe Street in front of the Old Capitol to Capital Circle Southeast, a 5-mile stretch that contains hotels, fast-food restaurants, department and electronics stores, video rental shops, mechanics, grocery stores, office parks and apartment complexes.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, there are 925 deliverable addresses between Monroe Street and Capital Circle, each of which would have to replace stationery and contact creditors and suppliers of the name change. Some of those addresses serve more than one office, making the impact of the name change that much greater.

The biggest example is Governor's Square mall, which has more than 150 shops, kiosks and other companies using the mall's 1500 Apalachee Parkway address.

The mall's general manager, Luanne Lenberg, said many of her tenants have been operating in the building for more than a decade and count on corporate parents to direct shipments of goods. She worried that the stores could have trouble coordinating with suppliers.

"That would cause some misses, and in retail, everything is about timing," Lenberg said. "In the short term, there is the possibility of business interruptions."

Lona May manages the Governor's Square Apartments, which has 169 units. Each of those families, plus May's office, would have to replace stationery and notify family, creditors and suppliers.

"It would definitely, definitely have an impact on us," May said. "That would be 170-plus people saying 'no.'

The Palms of Tallahassee, an apartment complex a little farther down the road, has an additional 277 units.

One of the largest offices on the road is headquarters for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. But spokesman Bob Sanchez said the department's internal print shop could probably handle the changes easily.

Not all the opponents live or work on the road. Some simply like the fact there are no other Apalachee Parkways in Florida.

"I don't want Tallahassee to become just another capital," said Ann McMillan, a forensic psychologist and sixth-generation Tallahasseean. "I think it's important to hold on to the traditions and heritage that make us unique."

Elected officials said they had heard similar views.

"I've run into a lot of people on the street who are upset about it," said Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox.

Byrd, who is tapped to become the next House speaker in November, couldn't be reached for comment.

House Speaker Tom Feeney's office last week said it supported Republicans naming things after important figures although staff hadn't had a chance to study the proposal. On Monday, it was scheduled to go before one committee, but a time and date has not been scheduled.

State law typically prevents any building, park, road or other property from being named after a living person. The one loophole is if the name is created by an act of the Legislature.

Contact reporter David Twiddy at drtwiddy@taldem.com or (850) 222-6729.