A Merced councilman’s idea to begin dubbing new streets with the names of Merced veterans who died in combat was praised as soon as it was introduced this week.
Councilman Michael Belluomini put in motion a new policy that would use what he estimated to be about 75 names of troops from Merced. The names would be placed on streets that now exist but have not been developed with houses, and also to new streets that are added as the city grows.
“These sacrifices are local and they’re profound, and deserving of meaningful recognition of the soldiers and their families in a public and proud fashion,” he said on Monday.
There are about 50 streets built out that do not have any homes or other buildings on them, according to Belluomini. So, if the idea were to be adopted, it would not require anyone to change their addresses.
Never miss a local story.
These sacrifices are local and they’re profound, and deserving of meaningful recognition of the soldiers and their families in a public and proud fashion.
Councilman Michael Belluomini
He noted that Merced was hit particularly hard during the housing market crash that began in 2006 and the subsequent Great Recession. Development on housing projects in the city came to a halt, leaving roads surrounded by empty lots.
The policy would leave wiggle room for a developer to use street names other than those of the fallen servicemen and women, but only if they give “good reason,” Belluomini said. “I don’t want this policy to be completely inflexible, but I think there ought to be a good reason (not to do it).”
The street signs also would note the conflict in which the soldier died.
The Merced County Veterans Memorial in Courthouse Park has 221 names of servicemen and women. Belluomini’s tally of 75 military personnel is an estimate, he said. Local veterans groups and city staff would be required to track down the official count, according to the proposal.
City Manager Steve Carrigan said the city is working on setting up an internship program with UC Merced, and the street project is a good candidate for that program. “It’d be a good opportunity to get some UC Merced kids in on this so it wouldn’t put a really big burden on (staffers),” he said.
I really think this could be a great thing to help support the memory of our veterans. They did a lot for this country.
George Hamrick, commander of Sons of the American Legion Squadron 83 in Merced
The policy was introduced Monday but would still need to be formally drafted and adopted by the city staff and City Council. If Monday’s reaction is any sign, it soon will be policy in Merced.
A number of members of the council and veterans in the audience praised the idea.
In the audience was George Hamrick, commander of Sons of the American Legion Squadron 83 in Merced. “I really think this could be a great thing to help support the memory of our veterans,” he said. “They did a lot for this country.”
At the same meeting, the council voted to adopt its medical cannabis ordinance, which allows for four dispensaries and the cultivation of up to six plants indoors.
In an odd twist, two councilmen changed their votes from a previous tally last month, but the ordinance still passed 4-3. The council has been split over whether to wait for state regulations to come online in 2018 or to allow dispensaries sooner.
Mayor Stan Thurston, Councilman Mike Murphy and Councilman Tony Dossetti cast the “no” votes. Dossetti, who originally voted “yes” for the ordinance, said he misunderstood the ordinance in last month’s vote.
But, his vote was offset by Councilman Noah Lor, who voted “no” in July but cast a “yes” vote on Monday.