Riviera Beach City Council votes to approve change from Old Dixi - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Riviera Beach City Council votes to approve change from Old Dixie Hwy to President Barack Obama Hwy

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - A dividing highway in Riviera Beach is becoming historic again.

A proposal to rename Old Dixie Highway to Barack Obama Highway ultimately passed in Riviera Beach, but not without hitting some speed bumps.

"I got a little worried for a minute, because we didn't seem at first to have the majority," said Mayor Thomas Masters, City of Riviera Beach. 

There was plenty of approval from the crowd to remove Old Dixie Highway from 1st Street to Silver Beach Road. 

"You have the chance to right the wrong and make a new chapter," said one woman who gave public comment. 

Residents of Riviera Beach expressed their concerns with what Old Dixie represents. The proposal itself referenced a time when it the highway divided black and white neighborhoods. One Riviera Beach woman who chose to conceal her identity said she's lived in Riviera Beach since the 60s and says the history doesn't bother her. 

"I think that the name should stay Old Dixie cause that's a landmark, it's history. It was there when we came, it's been here for years and I think we should leave it there," she said. 

She's all for naming a street after President Barack Obama, just not in the proposed area.  

'What we do we have to show for Barack Obama on Old Dixie?" she questioned. 

Her concern was echoed by Chair Dawn Pardo and two other residents who spoke and said the area is full of blight. 

"It makes you want to cry because it could be better than what is it," said one resident who spoke publicly. 

Mayor Masters stepped in, making a commitment to clean up the area. Four out of five council members voted yes to naming the highway President Barack Obama Highway. Still, some question the mayor's focus on this project. 

"What do you say to people who said maybe we should be fixing crime issues within the community instead of changing a street name?" we asked the Mayor.

"I'm going to say we can't compare appeals to oranges. Absolutely crime and unemployment are still the number one issues for this Mayor," said Masters. 

Masters says this change was necessary to move the community in a united direction.

Before council members voted, a motion was made to add 'President' in front of Barack Obama's name. 

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