ALPENA -At its last meeting Alpena Municipal Council voted to allow the Alpena Rotary Club to put up distance and wayfinding signs on the Alpena bi-path. It also approved a request that Rotary include the public in renaming the popular trail that runs throughout the city.
On Monday the council voted to undo the motion that passed and after some discussion, voted to keep the current name, which is short for Bicentennial Path, in place.
Mayor Matt Waligora said when Rotary made its request he was not aware that "bi" represented bicentennial and that in 1976 the community played a role in helping name the trail. He said out of respect for the people who made the decision 37 years ago, he decided to change his stance on the issue.
"When I learned how the name originated, I didn't think there was any real reason to change it," Waligora said. "I think it is possible that even if you change the name, after all this time people will still call it the original name. It is sort of like Island Park. Many people, still call it Sportsman's Island. I think this is a similar case."
Councilman Shawn Sexton countered by saying Alpena has been spending a lot of time and money in promoting itself to people outside of the area. He said a name change could work better for marketing.
"I don't really see that there is a lot of attachment to the name and I bet many people don't know what the name means or stands for. The council didn't," Sexton said. "With the branding effort going on a new name might fit in well. I think most people think 'bi' is short for bike and we're trying to attract more and younger people to the area. A new name could help with that."
Both men said they have no problem allowing Rotary, with the help of the community, come up with names for some of the specific loops in the route. Waligora said descriptive names promoting the area of the city they are in could help steer walkers, bikers and runners in the direction that best suits them.
"I like the idea of having the loops named," Waligora said. "You could have the Hospital Loop, as an example, or the Downtown Loop and people would know where they are and what is nearby. I just don't think changing the name of the entire bi-path is wise. Thirty years from now there may be people questioning what we decided on and wondered what we were thinking if we change it to something else. I think it is just better to leave it as it is and not do too much to it."
The Rotary Club is expected to present its plan for signs and possible names for the loops at a future meeting.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com