HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton City Council has voted to rename a road currently honoring a Confederate general to a name more in line with Hampton’s connection to NASA.
Council voted unanimously Wednesday to rename Magruder Boulevard to Neil Armstrong Parkway, honoring the first man to walk on the moon.
“50 years ago, July of last year, a man walked on the moon and that individual was Neil Armstrong, who trained at NASA Langley Research Center,” said Mayor Donnie Tuck. “Around the same time, a Hampton resident who works at Langley approached me and said ‘wouldn’t it be a great idea to tell people the way you get to NASA Langley is that you take Neil Armstrong Way to Commander Shepard Boulevard?”
The latter being named after Rear Admiral Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr., the first American to travel into space.
Both Armstrong and Shepard received crucial support from Katherine Johnson, a groundbreaking African American mathematician at NASA Langley who died earlier this week at the age of 101.
The astronaut’s name will replace that of John Magruder, a general for the Confederate army during the Civil War, who defended Yorktown and the Peninsula from advancing Union troops.
The removal of any reminder of the Confederacy is typically met with opposition. However, Tuck insisted the change has nothing to do with the name of the road.
Rather community concerns centered around cost. Several speakers said the money could be used elsewhere.
City Manager Mary Bunting said money to make the changes will need to be included in the fiscal year 2021 budget. The estimated cost to VDOT to replace just the Interstate 64 signs will be between $40,000 and $60,000.
Around 25 city-owned street signs would need to be changed as well, however, those costs will more than likely come in the form of a large workload for public works crews. No extra money is expected to be budgeted.
The city identified 11 properties that would be directly impacted by re-naming of the 3.3 mile stretch of road. All have agreed to the change.
It’s estimated each property owner would have to pay $7,500 to change business addresses, identification signs, letterheads, websites, and other items.
To give them, the state and city time. The change won’t take effect until July 2021.