The council already approved changing the name to "Franklin Avenue" after city staff pointed out that in ten years, Bemidji shelled out $20,000 to replace stolen street signs. That's a lot of taxpayer money going to pimp out the pads of college dorms and frat houses.
But in a public meeting this week, "Stoner Avenue" got the equivalent of a last-minute call from the governor.[jump]
After sending his workers out to Stoner Avenue more times than he likes to remember, city
engineer Craig Gray brought up the issue with city council.
"It's frustrating for the maintenance guys who do it, and of course there's a public safety issue," says Gray. "Ambulance and public safety look for those signs. If they're not there, it results in slower response time."
That buzzkill assessment of the situation convinced the city council, who voted unanimously to change the name to "Franklin Avenue" earlier this summer.
But that did not sit right with the residents: A half-dozen people spoke against the name change at a city council meeting this week, complaining of the giant hassle involved in changing driver's licenses, credit cards and billing addresses.
Dozens of others probably meant to show up and speak, but totally forgot.
In the end, the city caved and decided to give Stoner Avenue another shot. And they've got a new trick up their sleeve -- higher poles. The hope, we suspect, is that thieves will be too lazy to climb the pole, or forget what they were doing once they're about five feet off the ground.
Gray will spend the next week or so putting all the Stoner Avenue signs on 10-foot poles. He doesn't mind the solution, though he knows pot heads can be surprisingly persistent. He says sometimes the thieves simply use a hacksaw to bring the poles down.
Bemidji to change "Stoner Avenue" to something less awesome