Members of the City Council are reconsidering a request to rename a city street for a soldier killed in Iraq after his family pleaded with them last week to change their minds.
Council members said they have received dozens of calls from veterans and family members of military personnel throughout the country since they tabled a request to rename a section of Lindbergh Avenue after Cpl. Lorne E. Henry Jr., a Niagara Falls High School graduate who was killed in February.
"I cannot, for the life of me, understand how this could be debatable," Niagara Falls resident Deborah L. Johnson wrote in an e-mail to The News after reading about the Council's decision to delay the request. Johnson's son, Staff Sgt. Aram J. Bass, was killed in Iraq in November 2005.
"Can no one take a look at the human toll of some local families and what the people in power of that community could do to honor the sacrifice of the soldiers and their families?" Johnson asked. "Why would anything in the works for Lorne Henry and his family be shelved?"
Several city leaders said Sunday they wish the issue hadn't become politicized.
"What's unfortunate is that everything we try to do seems to have at some point become a political issue," said Mayor Vince Anello, who stood with Henry's family as they spoke at the Council meeting last week.
The Council decided to hold off on approving the new name for Lindbergh Avenue on the advice of Council Chairman Robert Anderson Jr. He believes the city should wait until after the war to develop a monument for all veterans.
The city has no procedures in place to handle requests to rename streets after citizens.
Anello said Sunday he sent an e-mail to Anderson last week notifying the Council that he plans to resubmit his request to rename Lindbergh Avenue between 56th Street and Builder's Way after Henry. He also plans to ask the Council to begin the process to rename another street after Bass, a Niagara Catholic graduate.
Councilman Chris Robins said he is still deciding what to do, but is considering granting the street renaming request and working with his fellow Council members to draw up a policy to guide city leaders during similar requests in the future.
Anderson, a U.S Air Force veteran, said he would abstain from a vote on the issue, but said he, too, is saddened that the discussion has polarized the community.
"I'm tired of the polarity that this has given the city. It was unnecessary. There has never been a precedence in this city's history on what to do for a fallen military veteran or a disabled veteran," Anderson said. "It's a sad situation when you're talking about life and death."