WINCHESTER — The city is seeking public input on whether Jubal Early Drive should be renamed.
A short survey is now available online at www.winchesterva.gov/jubal-early-drive-renaming. The deadline to respond to the survey is 8 a.m. July 13.
Feedback also may be submitted via the online public comment form for City Council’s July 14 meeting. The form will be available beginning July 10 on the meeting agenda portal at https://winchesterva.civicweb.net/Portal.
Jubal Early Drive is a busy city thoroughfare that was named in 1991 for a Confederate general in the Civil War. The movement to rename the roadway comes in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism stemming from the May 25 killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, who was Black, by a white police officer. Floyd’s death has sparked a push to take down Confederate monuments and rename streets and buildings with ties to the Confederacy or white supremacy. Supporters of the effort to remove Confederate reminders say they glorify slavery, white supremacy and a treasonous government.
City Council discussed the possibility of renaming Jubal Early Drive at its June 23 meeting. A Change.org petition started by Winchester resident Jason Murray also seeks to have the street renamed. The petition calls Early, who was not a Winchester native but who was encamped here during the Civil War, an “unrepentant” white supremacist who supported slavery. “Why is one of the busiest streets in Winchester named for this racist traitor?” As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had more than 390 signatures.
Nearly 60 streets in Winchester bear Confederate-era names.
According to information on the survey site, the roadway that bears the name Jubal Early Drive was built in many phases and was originally identified as the “Southern Loop” in plans. It was renamed Apple Blossom Drive in the 1980s, when the easternmost part of the road was built. In 1991, council designated parts of the route as East Jubal Early Drive and Jubal Early Drive. In 1994, a stretch of the roadway west of Valley Avenue was renamed Meadow Branch Avenue. In 2014, the route’s easternmost portion was renamed Millwood Avenue.
State Code section 15.2-2019 gives Virginia localities express authority to name roads, the survey site indicates. The survey site further explains that road and alley renaming requests are handled via a resolution that must be adopted by City Council. Unlike ordinances, resolutions do not require first and second readings or any public hearings prior to a council vote. A review of city road renaming efforts over the past 100 years “reveals little to no evidence of council seeking public input, however, there is public comment at all City Council meetings where local residents can address council on any matter.”
If the road’s name is changed, approximately 80 businesses would be affected, but no homes, according to the survey site. Council has discretion to specify when a name change would take effect, should it move forward. City staff has suggested a minimum of 60 to 120 days to give businesses time to update their address information.