Lispenard co-naming going forward at City Council

Despite a no vote from CB1 last fall, the co-naming of Lispenard Street between West Broadway and Church for Police Officer James D. McNaughton is being advanced through the City Council. The hearing was today at the council’s Parks Committee, but anyone who wants to add their input can also email comments to Councilwoman Chin, who is one of the sponsors of the bill. The council will vote tomorrow at 1:30p at City Hall.

This is a thorny issue. There is no doubt that Officer McNaughton, who enlisted and was killed in Iraq in 2005, should be recognized and remembered both for his service to the city and the nation. But when I was on CB4, we struggled with street renamings and co-namings for several reasons. Neighbors often felt streets should be signed exclusively with the original, official name for navigation and recognition purposes and have consistency from block to block. (The FDNY felt strongly about this as well, since no group of people have a better reason for knowing what street they are on than firefighters.) By CB4 standards, the applicants needed to have a direct, longtime involvement in the neighborhood. We also felt that street namings did little to educate the general public about a person since the name alone does not do enough to describe him or her. A plaque serves their memory much better.

CB1 recently passed its own regulations about street renamings. They include a requirement that the neighboring community must be aware of and support any street co-naming application and that the applicant should not have other memorials in the city. In this case, residential neighbors were largely not supportive of the application and McNaughton is honored with a bronze plaque in the Canal Street A, C, E subway station and is also honored at the New York City Police Memorial in Battery Park City.

McNaughton was a transit officer from Middle Village, Queens, who, at age 27, was the first NYPD officer killed in Iraq. A New York Times feature on his death at the time noted that he had been recently engaged to another officer during a 15-day leave when he was hit by a sniper’s bullet while standing guard at a base near the Baghdad airport. At the time, he was assigned as a police officer to Transit District 2 on Lispenard and West Broadway. August 2 will be the 14th anniversary of his death.