Newark's city-council members voted Monday night in favor of changing Elkton Road’s name to South Main Street. The change will take effect Jan. 1.
The name change will only include the part of Elkton Road between Main Street and West Park Place, and the road beyond that will remain Elkton Road, said Mayor Vance A. Funk III.
Funk said he presented the idea to council six months ago, and believes it will help market the businesses along what is now Elkton Road.
“I personally think it’s an incredible marketing idea,” Funk said, “This will really help them a lot.”
The city distributed a two-part questionnaire six months ago to homeowners and business owners along Elkton Road. The first question regarded changing the name from Main Street up until West Park Place, and the second up until the Maryland state line.
Funk said prior to his suggestion of the name change, he received 10 to 12 letters from owners of major businesses along Elkton Road requesting that the name of the road be changed to Main Street.
Businesses toward the Maryland state line were in favor of the change, but homeowners were largely against it, Funk said.
“Part of it was the construction,” Funk said. “They weren’t happy about anything at that point.”
While businesses were in favor of changing their addresses, homeowners expressed concern about having to change their address on labels and stationary. Funk said the six-month notification of the change was intended to help ease the transition.
Funk said that Elkton Road businesses are part of the Downtown Newark Partnership, but he has had trouble generating enthusiasm from people in the area of Elkton Road - something he hopes will change along with the road’s name.
“I’m a lawyer, but my college degree was (in) marketing,” Funk said. “I guess you could say I have a flair for it. That’s why I started the Taste of Newark (festival) – it’s all about marketing.”
District 2 Councilman Jerry Clifton said companies have long talked about moving into Newark but want a Main Street address, and believes this will attract more businesses into the area.
“I think it was the last piece of the puzzle to accomplish what has been talked about for half a decade,” Clifton said.
A few months ago, the name change was proposed to council, but the proposal failed because it extended the name beyond West Park Place, which was too burdensome for homeowners toward the Maryland state line, Clifton said.
“In the coming years, this stretch of road will be as vibrant as we see Main Street today,” Clifton said. “It will allow us to win awards such as the Great American Main Street Award (which the city won last year).”
All the city-council members voted in favor of the name change except for District 4 Councilman David Athey.
Athey said he believes that having an East, West and South Main Street would be fairly confusing, and he said that besides a town in Georgia, he has never heard of a town having more than one Main Street.
“I just don’t think it was the right idea,” Athey said. “The businesses located on Elkton Road may feel disassociated with Main Street – either they’re on Main Street or they’re not.”
Athey said he does not believe changing the name of Elkton Road to South Main Street will solve the issue of people wanting to move to Newark and have a Main Street address.
“The overriding reason to not agree is that, (I don't believe that) just by changing the name of the street that either of those problems would be resolved,” he said.