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Salem urged to change name of part of street to honor WWII veteran

SALEM — The Committee of the Whole will soon be considering a name change of West Second Street to honor a native son whose family dates back several generations.

Philip A. Tibbs Tuesday requested the Streets, Alleys and Sidewalks Committee to consider changing the name of West Second Street, which runs from North Ellsworth Avenue to Jennings Avenue before turning into Pennsylvania Avenue, to Howard Tibbs Way. The name change is in honor of his father, Col. Howard A. Tibbs, a Salem High School and Salem Business School graduate who posthumously received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal for his service as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen/Women — the nation’s first African-American military mission units/wing group.

Tibbs noted the historical relevance of his family in his request. He said Howard Avenue was named in honor of his great-grandfather Charles Howard in 1901 and several members of his extended family played a vital role in community the past 150 years or more.

Howard Tibbs is one of three Salem natives to be awarded the congressional gold medal. Philip Tibbs said he would like to erect a plaque at the intersection of Howard Avenue and the proposed Howard Tibbs Way explaining the historical significance.

Committee member Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey asked that a cost estimate for changing street signs and mapping, as well as the opinions of property owners along the stretch of roadway in question, be obtained before forwarding the issue to the Committee of the Whole. However, Committee Chairman Ron Zellers responded the post office told him there is no issue in the legality of a name change and by forwarding the issue to the Committee of the Whole, the community members will have an opportunity to voice their opinion.

Tibbs said if there is an issue with changing the name of West Second Street, he would like to see West Third of Fourth changed, or have the intersection dedicated to his father.

In other business, the committee forwarded a recommendation to city council to advertise for engineering qualifications for the 2021 street paving project.

Mayor John Berlin said the project, funded by the city’s .25 percent income tax, is estimated at $1.2 million. Firms will be asked to submit their qualifications, with information about the staff, experience, past projects and location. A three-member committee will score the firms and the firm with the top score will be interviewed and asked for a price for engineering. If the price appears reasonable, the administration will then contract with that firm to do the job.

This is the same process the city has been using the past several years due to the size of the projects using funding from the additional .25 percent income tax. The tax was approved by voters strictly for improvements to streets, alleys, sidewalks, curbs, storm sewers and parking lots and was reapproved for another five years in November 2019.

The committee reviewing the engineering proposals will include the mayor, city Service/Safety Director Joe Cappuzzello and city Auditor Betty Brothers.

Howells and Baird of Salem already submitted an estimate of probable cost for the proposed list of streets and alleys for resurfacing. The estimate of $1.2 million includes a contingency cost of $80,000, engineering of $91,850 and over $1 millon for construction.

Streets on the proposed list include sections of Carbon Street, Filbert, Walnut, Ash, Park Drive East, Park Drive West, West Seventh, East Sixth, Fair, Oak, Barclay, Jefferson, 11th, Tanglewood Drive, West Wilson, Deming, Stewart, North Broadway, Rea Drive, Western Reserve, West Third and alleys between Ridgewood and Mound, Eighth and Ninth, south of West Wilson, north of Sixth and East Fourth to East Fifth .

Berlin said the streets on the list were recommended by the street department, which travels the roads daily and knows which ones are costing the taxpayers the most money in repairs and maintenance.

Berlin also noted the city has paved approximately 35 miles of roadways since 2009.

khohwell@salemnews.net

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