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Proposal requests to change name of part of Maryland Avenue

Proposal requests to change name of part of Maryland Avenue
Looking south on the 100 block of N. Maryland Avenue. The city is considering changing the name of the street between Wilson and Harvard to Artsakh. (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

Residents and business owners largely oppose a proposal to change the name of two blocks of Maryland Avenue to Artsakh Street in an effort to recognize the Republic of Artsakh.

During a Glendale Planning Commission meeting last week, about 40 people gave their opinions on the proposed name change, with the majority saying the change would be costly to businesses and cause confusion.

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Ultimately, the planning commission members opposed the name change and suggested searching for other more viable options.

The nonprofit Unified Young Armenians first proposed the name change to the City Council in February, because it would honor the Armenian heritage of many Glendale residents. Council selected the two blocks of Maryland Avenue between Wilson and Harvard out of six other options presented to them by staff.

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"We believe that it is time for the city to finally have a significant and highly visible street honoring the heritage and culture of its Armenian American residents, as well as their contributions to the city's life," the group said in a letter to Mayor Zareh Sinanyan.

About 10 supporters of the name change spoke during the public hearing, and several of them were high school or college students.

Though many opponents to the name change didn't disagree with the name Artsakh or honoring Armenian American culture, they felt the obstacles for businesses would be too great.

A sign posted at the corner of N. Maryland and Wilson avenues advises of the proposed street renaming.
A sign posted at the corner of N. Maryland and Wilson avenues advises of the proposed street renaming. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Business owners said they would have to pay thousands of dollars just to reprint documents.

"With a staff of 100 people, we have many expenses that would be adversely affected by an address change," said Pamela Spiszman, chief executive of Pegasus Home Health Care.

"Most of the field staff and all of the office staff have business cards, We have brochures and marketing materials for two companies with many components bearing the address and all professionally created by a graphic designer," she added.

Some felt that by changing the name to Artsakh, Glendale would be taking a political position. The Republic of Artsakh, more commonly known by its formal name Nagorno-Karabakh, is a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"The city of Glendale getting involved in this is dipping our toes in something we have no business in," said Ross Nelson during the public hearing. "We will not enrich the area. We will not attract businesses. In fact, it will only attract political attention, doing nothing to solve an issue that is so much larger than anything such a petty gesture could possibly impact."

Leonard Manoukian, who said he has donated to build roads in Artsakh, disagreed with the motion.

"This is the single most useless hearing I've ever particpiated in because it has proven itself so divisive over something that is symbolic to some but has a true cost to many," he said.

Twitter: @r_valejandra

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