Residents in Shore Acres are talking about changing the name of their neighborhood. Some say it would help overcome negative publicity about previous flooding problems.
Can a neighborhood do that even if a majority approves? City planner Michael Tenney had to check with the city legal department.
"It's not impossible, but it would take a lot of time and effort," he said. A change would also come with a price. Resident Mozelle Bell raised the name issue in a letter to the neighborhood association president.
She suggested Shore Island as a more appropriate name. She wrote, "Most of Shore Acres _ everything east of the canal between Bayou Grande and Smacks Bayou _ is surrounded by water and accessible only by bridges." Although Bell does not cite past negative publicity about flooding as a reason to change the name, others have mentioned it. A name change may be on the board's agenda in June.
"I wanted to see feedback from people first," said Debbie Kraus, president. "If the people want it, we'll take it to the board." She asked residents to call her at 527-7288 with an opinion. Favorable responses so far include a variety of names: Sunset Island, Dolphin Island, Paradise Island, Palm Island, Bay Island and Bay Estates. One of the supporters of change is Nancy Angel, although she has no new name suggestion.
"I do think it would be nice if the name were changed," she said. "Just because as soon as someone says Shore Acres, they have negative feelings about it." Shore Island doesn't appeal to her, though. She thinks Shore should be eliminated.
Not everyone agrees. Madeline Smyth said even with a new name, "We're always going to be the former Shore Acres." She hasn't had water in her home during flooding but has had it on her street. "There's nothing wrong with the charm of Shore Acres," she explained. "Those who fear it avoid it. Those who love it won't leave it."
Judy Amos has been a flood victim but isn't soured on Shore Acres. "I like it just the way it is," she said. "Just because it's comfortable."
Barbara Bono favors the status quo, too, and worries about losing an identity with a name change. "Anyhow, our flood situation has been a whole lot better lately," she said.
Theresa Rae Lang found similar feelings among residents she visited recently. She is surveying them about a traffic issue and admits going back and forth on the name change. Lang was surprised to discover a lot of pride among those who have lived in the neighborhood a long time. "For people who have lived in Shore Acres, (the Shore Acres name) is a positive," she said.
To change an association name may not be difficult, but changing a neighborhood name presents a different story. A change is viewed as a new development, Tenney said, and would require replatting. That means everyone's legal description would change. There are numerous subdivisions within Shore Acres, and each would require a survey.
"The cheapest I've heard is $2,000 for a survey company," he said. To replat 10 or more lots in a block in the same subdivision would cost $630 in addition to paying someone to do it.
Tenney also pointed out that a new development may have to meet new code requirements and require additional utility easements. Numerous city departments and all utilities would have to review the paperwork, and the City Council would have to approve each change. It would be costly, but it could be done.
"It might take years," he said. "I think they just need to change the association name."
Finally, Smyth gave two other reasons for not supporting a change.
"There's too much history to change," she said. "Shore Acres Elementary is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Besides, I couldn't sing to my kids, "Shore Acres is the place to be.' "