MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The battle over the name of a popular Minneapolis lake is now going to the streets.
The Minneapolis Park Board already changed the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska — and that new name could move to its surrounding neighborhood, too.
While the name of this metro lake hangs in limbo, the Minneapolis Park Board’s Administration and Finance Committee approved a measure Wednesday evening to rename parkland, parkways and roads with the “Calhoun” name.
Signs around the lake, even GPS, calls the lake Bde Maka Ska. The name of the lake itself is still caught in a legal battle, but the process to change the surrounding streets is different.
“We don’t have full control over the names of the lake, but we do have full control of the names of the streets that surround the lake,” said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Londel French.
French is introducing a proposal to change the names of four lakeside streets from “Calhoun” to “Bde Maka Ska.”
“We want to make sure that folks understand that we want to restore the name to what it used to be,” French said.
Commissioner French says the association with John C. Calhoun is also problematic.
“He’s just not a guy that I think the park board should be honoring and giving the legacy to by having us walk down the streets named after this guy,” French said.
Not everyone is on board with the changes. Save Lake Calhoun Chairman Tom Austin says most of the homeowners on the lake did not support a name change when asked in this 2017 petition.
Ultimately, the park board will decide the fate of these street signs.
“Change is hard for some folks, but we got to do it, right?” French said.
The board will need to vote three times and allow a 45-day public comment period before they can changing parkland and street names. The name switch will go before the park board in early June.
About 20 people spoke in support of the change during Wednesday’s public comment period.
“His name belongs in the middle of a history book,” said John Rohrer, a Minneapolis resident.
Rohrer claims to be a descendant of Calhoun through his mother’s side, and felt compelled to come forward.
“Right now, it feels like my job to come forward and talk about it because he did so many horrible things,” Rohrer said.
No one spoke against the proposal publicly at the meeting, but everyone is not on board with the street switch.
“When I think of this area, this lake, I think of Lake Calhoun. I don’t think of Calhoun as the person that it was named after, I think of what it is called,” said Minneapolis resident Betsey Stoneking.
This all comes as the act of renaming of the lake is under fire. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled last month that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources didn’t have the authority to do so.
The DNR plans to appeal that decision, further fanning the flames of this debate.