McKinney is taking steps to see if it might consider renaming two streets named after James W. Throckmorton, whose legacy has already been called into question as the city considers moving a statue of the former Texas governor.
“We are here today because there have been several conversations and comments about the naming of the Throckmorton Street really over the last eight months,” Assistant City Manager Kim Flom told McKinney City Council members on Tuesday.
She said comments had come during City Council meetings, during stakeholder meetings for the East McKinney redevelopment and preservation project and from the Throckmorton Ad Hoc Advisory Board, which was formed in July as the city considers what to do with a statue of Throckmorton that sits outside to the McKinney Performing Arts Center.
Flom said Tuesday’s discussion was informational only and covered the potential renaming of Throckmorton Street as well as Throckmorton Place, a smaller two-block section of street that is separate from Throckmorton Street.
“Regardless of what the reason is, it is important to know what the process is because it does require quite a bit of commitment, mostly from the people who live and own property on that street,” Flom said.
Robyn Root, the city’s traffic engineer, said considerations for the change include financial impacts and impacts to residents and businesses. It could also impact location services from third-party maps like Google and Apple maps, which the city doesn’t control.
“There is a commitment from the people who live and own property on this street,” Flom said. “They’re the ones who have to change their addresses and letterheads, drivers license. That is both a time and financial commitment. Because of that, we would love an opportunity to connect with those people, those stakeholders if council wanted to go down this road.”
Root said the street is thought to have been named after James W. Throckmorton sometime between 1872 and 1886 when the railroad came to McKinney. Renaming the streets would impact 16 owner-occupied residential properties and 24 rental residential properties. It would also mean a potential impact on 13 multifamily properties, 10 commercial properties and two historical sites: the Throckmorton Street Church of Christ and the site of Doty High School, which was once the city’s only high school for Black students.
District 1 City Councilman Justin Beller said he was in favor of the renaming and suggested that the street could instead be named for Professor Edward Sewell Doty, the historic school’s namesake and former principal.
“We have an opportunity here to honor a community in a way that this road doesn’t honor them,” Beller said.
Beller added that he had spoken to a number of property owners and didn’t find anyone who would be opposed.
“I’m not in favor of renaming streets to rename a street because somebody might be offended,” Mayor Pro Tem Rainey Rogers said.
Rogers said he would agree to change part of the street to recognize the name of the local district and community.
“That’s the only way that I agree with any change is doing that to recognize something else in that community,” Rogers said.
He added that he wouldn’t be in favor of changing the name of Throckmorton Place.
Councilman Frederick Frazier said he originally thought the change would just impact the area where McKinney’s forthcoming municipal complex will sit rather than the entire street.
“When I saw this whole thing, the impact that it has all the way up, that’s a lot to me,” Frazier said.
District 3 City Councilwoman Geré Feltus said she wanted to hear from residents and businesses who would be impacted.
“Because they’re the ones on a daily basis who are going to be impacted by this, and they’re the ones who have lived there already,” Feltus said. “I know this is a controversial topic, but we have this street in an area that (is) largely inhabited by Black and brown faces, and my question to them is, is this impactful to you? Is it impactful enough that you would make the financial investment, is it worth it to you to make the financial investment in this? And that is going to be primarily what we should be looking at.”
Mayor George Fuller said he was in favor of doing what the community wanted to do and said the issue had become unnecessarily politicized.
“If in fact the community comes out and wants that street changed, why we wouldn’t consider that is just inhumane to me,” he said.
Fuller added that he refuses to look at the situation as a “right or left” issue.
“It’s a street name that happens to offend some people,” he said. “So let’s talk about it. So I’m in favor of what the community would like to see done in their community. And anything less than that I think is ridiculous.”