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Petitioner says make it King airport

Martin Luther King Jr. Municipal Airport.

That's the idea that emerged Thursday in the controversy surrounding the renaming of Sixth Avenue.

Someone who signed a petition to prevent the road from being changed to Dr. Martin Luther King Avenue suggested instead naming the municipal airport after the slain civil rights leader.

But the effort might be doomed to fail.

Irene Dobson, the black woman who first petitioned the City Council to change the street name, said she had no opinion about the airport idea.

"I don't think anything about that," said Dobson, who lives in the Otis Moody neighborhood outside the city limit.

Marcus and M.J. Price, white downtown business owners who have two petitions going against the street name change, feel differently.

Marcus Price, who telephoned Dobson on Thursday to discuss the idea, said he thought the airport idea was a way to reunite a divided city.

"We tried to come up with a really amicable solution," he said. "The idea was to bring both sides back together and have everyone be happy, but (Dobson) doesn't want anything to do with it."

His wife, M.J., said she thought an airport was a better way to honor King.

"I think it's a great idea." M.J. Price said. "An airport is a much bigger thing than a street."

Since the council voted 4-1 Monday night in a heated meeting to rename the road, more than 100 people have signed petitions to overturn the vote.

Some residents who live on Sixth Avenue say they don't want their addresses to change. A second petition, which has drawn fewer signers, seeks the recall of the council members who voted for the change.

City Manager Steve Spina said the council, if it chooses, could consider the airport idea and vote on it. But regardless, Spina said, the city needs to address the divisions that have arisen in the past week.

"I think whatever we do, we need to do some kind of community round tables," he said. "We can't all just go back into our holes after this."

_ Molly Moorhead covers news about Zephyrhills. She can be reached at (352) 521-5757, ext. 21 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6108, then 21. Her e-mail address is moorheadsptimes.com.

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