Motion to change name of Robert E. Lee Avenue in Elkins does not pass

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ELKINS, W.Va (WDTV) - The motion does not pass.

That was the final vote when a controversial street name change proposal did not pass in the Elkins Municipal Properties Committee on Thursday morning.

Several in the community came out to support keeping Robert E. Lee Avenue as is in Elkins.

"It has been Robert E. Lee Avenue for so many years," one woman said.

"I believe the real issues in this town are the drugs, the homelessness, and the hunger," said another.

"I just think it should stay like it is," another resident said.

Councilwoman Marly Hazen --

"The street name needs to be changed," she said.

As 5 News reported earlier this week, there was discussion about changing the street name to honor Katherine Johnson, who is from West Virginia and was known as the "human computer." Residents voiced concern about how they feel the name change was not necessary, saying it could be an inconvenience for personal paperwork and finances and it's still in fact a part of history.

"Fix the potholes," one resident said. "Paint some buildings … tear some down."

Hazen says it's time to look at the present and what this street name would mean for the representation of Elkins to outsiders.

"If we are serious about bringing in new, young residents, people of color, and jobs, then this is something we need to do," Hazen said.

"The current street sign is not welcoming to people who aren't from the region," she added.

After several residents and councilwoman Hazen spoke to offer their opinions, the three committee members voted. The motion failed to pass, with Hazen the lone supporter on the committee.

Hazen says moving forward, she remains focused on various goals throughout the city such as beautification and substance abuse prevention.

"If there are residents in the city who would like to see it changed, then that's up to them to bring it up for re-discussion but for now, it's not an active issue," Hazen said.

While the name change motion was voted down, Elkins mayor Van Broughton said it could still be brought up in council.

"I would vote against it," Broughton said. "Big history -- Robert E. Lee -- and there were some good points made this morning throughout the weeks that I've talked to the public."