SC photo by David Staver
SC photo by David Staver

Sanibel's Gavin-Walker Family will be honored by proclamation for celebrating its centennial year by the City Council at the council's 9 a.m. meeting Tuesday, Aug. 1, but it appears unlikely the council will take any quick action to rename Tarpon Bay Road for the family, a process that is difficult and expensive in other surrounding areas.

The proclamation will be read at the opening of the meeting. It recognizes the Gavin and Walker families as Sanibel's first African American settlers who became and remain an important part of the island's fabric. It recognizes the Gavin-Walker Family for its many contributions on Sanibel and in the United States military.

The family is in its centennial year. The proclamation will declare a period of time in special honor of the family with those dates to be filled in Tuesday.

No action is expected Tuesday on the Gavin-Walker Family's request to City Council July 18 that Tarpon Bay Road be renamed in the family's honor. While the council recognized the contributions of the family, the city doesn't have a street renaming policy in place.

Following the renaming request by the Gavin-Walker Family, the council asked staff to ask other municipalities what policies they have in place. Staff got responses from Lee County, Fort Myers and Naples. It's possible in all three places, but not without significant red tape and possibly high expenses on behalf of the petitioner for the name change.

The Fort Myers policy is the most definitive of the three. It requires that the person for whom the street is renamed is of historical significance, a point City Council has conceded to the Gavin-Walker Family, and also addresses the historical significance of the name being removed. City Council has received information indicating that Tarpon Bay Road carries historical significance.

Fort Myers require that 80 percent of the abutting property owners sign a petition in favor of a name change. The costs of public advertising the name change through legal notices and signs, along with paying for all new street signs if approved, fall to the petitioner, not Fort Myers.

Naples requires 51 percent approval by abutting property owners.

Lee County's policy for a change requires a majority approval by all property owners on the street and 100 percent approval of people living on the street, including renters.