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Plan To Rename Lake Shore Drive After Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable Delayed

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two aldermen on Wednesday threw up a roadblock on a proposal to rename a 17-mile stretch of Outer Lake Shore Drive after Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, the Black man credited with founding the city of Chicago.

The measure would rename the outer Drive from Hollywood Avenue to 67th Street after DuSable.

As aldermen prepared to vote on the proposal on Wednesday, Ald. Sophia King (4th) sought a roll call vote, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot -- who has said she has concerns about the plan and has floated alternatives -- first recognized Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who joined with Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) to "defer and publish" the ordinance, delaying a vote until the next City Council meeting.

King angrily objected, claiming she had called for a roll call vote before Hopkins sought to delay it, but Lightfoot said Hopkins raised his hand before King spoke up.

That didn't satisfy King, who said, "I had my hand up before. I see the play here. This is just inequity playing out right in front of us."

Several other aldermen shouted out to object, but Lightfoot ruled the vote on the ordinance to rename Lake Shore Drive after DuSable, the Black man credited with founding the city of Chicago, would be delayed until the next meeting.

The move infuriated Ald. David Moore (17th), the chief sponsor of the effort to rename Lake Shore Drive after DuSable. In retaliation for the delay, Moore repeatedly used a parliamentary maneuver to shuttle ordinances being introduced by his colleagues to the council's Rules Committee, forcing those proposals to go through an extra step to get a debate and vote, potentially delaying them by a month or more.

Lightfoot said she has concerns about the name change plan, and has heard concerns from many others that she doesn't believe have been properly addressed yet.

"It's one of the most iconic assets that the city has. When you say Lake Shore Drive, people know you're talking about Chicago, and I think that that's very important," she said. "What I've also heard from folks is, 'Hey, we haven't had enough time to talk about this, to debate this.' The museums come into mind. There are other organizations and other parts of the city who have an impact, or are impacted by Lake Shore Drive. So I think we need to make sure that those voices are heard."

Lightfoot said she agrees it's "way past time" for the city to recognize DuSable in a more permanent way, and has proposed her own plan for honoring him by renaming the Chicago Riverwalk, installing three statues on the Riverwalk, and finally completing construction of DuSable Park, first proposed by Mayor Harold Washington in the 1980s.

Lightfoot has said her plan not only would rename the Riverwalk after DuSable and complete a park with his name, but would connect the two sites and allow year-round programming to bring people to the downtown area to learn about DuSable.

Moore has said he sees the mayor's proposal as an appropriate complement to renaming the outer Drive after DuSable, not as an alternative. He has estimated the renaming plan at about $2.5 million, compared to around $40 million for the mayor's proposal.

According to published reports, Moore and King also plan to call for a special City Council meeting to vote on the name change before the next regular City Council meeting on June 23. Moore also threatened to use parliamentary measures to delay other items in the future until the plan until the DuSable Drive ordinance is approved.

Some aldermen have said they are concerned Moore's proposal would force some homes and businesses along Inner Lake Shore Drive to change their addresses, and want the ordinance cleared up before a vote.

Moore has said changing the name of Outer Lake Shore Drive only would affect the addresses of only a handful of harbors and parks on the lakefront.

Before the Transportation Committee unanimously approved Moore's ordinance last month, the Lightfoot administration first sought to tweak the language. Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi at the time said they wanted to make sure the ordinance has the proper legal language to support Moore's intent of renaming only Outer Lake Shore Drive.

"That's all it's trying to do is get it right," she said. "It also steers us clear of the concerns about inner and outer and addresses."

CDOT officials said the changes they sought to Moore's ordinance were intended to properly differentiate between outer and Inner Lake Shore Drive. However, the Transportation Committee passed Moore's proposal without CDOT's changes, and the committee's chair, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), said aldermen could come back later to fix the ordinance if necessary.

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