M-NCPPC Montgomery County Street and Parks Facilities Renaming Review Project
Montgomery Parks and Montgomery Planning are reviewing streets and parks named after Confederate soldiers at the request of County Council
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is currently reviewing all Montgomery county-owned and maintained streets and park facilities to identify those named after Confederates or those who otherwise do not reflect Montgomery County’s values.
This task, known as the Street and Parks Facilities Renaming Review Project, is a joint effort of M-NCPPC’s Montgomery County Planning Department (Montgomery Planning) and Montgomery County Parks Department. The project began in June 2020 after the Montgomery County Council sent a letter to the Planning Board and the County Executive requesting “a comprehensive review of all County owned and maintained street names and public facilities to determine all those named for Confederate soldiers or those who otherwise do not reflect Montgomery County values.”
M-NCPPC is the sole entity authorized under Maryland law with naming or renaming streets in Montgomery County, except within certain independent municipalities. The Commission’s Planning Board has sole approval authority over street renaming.
Three county streets and one park identified as commemorating Confederate generals
To date, M-NCPPC has identified three county streets and one park that had full name matches with Confederate soldiers. This included the Potomac streets now formerly known as Jubal Early Court, J.E.B. Stuart Road, and J.E.B Stuart Court. Montgomery Parks renamed J.E.B Stuart Trail at Woodstock Equestrian Park the Northern Edge Trail in early 2021.
In June 2021, Montgomery Planning announced the streets previously known as J.E.B. Stuart Road and J.E.B. Stuart Court will now be called Geneva Mason Road and Geneva Mason Court, respectively. The street previously known as Jubal Early Court is now William Dove Court. The new street signs were installed in July 2021.
About the new street names
Geneva Mason (1899-1980) was a prominent community leader in the Scotland community, centered near Seven Locks Road in Potomac, in Montgomery County; she was instrumental in the rebuilding of the Scotland community and its fight against urban renewal efforts in the 1960s. In addition to Ms. Mason, the Scotland community suggested renaming a street in honor of one of their elders: William Dove. Dove, an African American man born in slavery, was one of the founding members of the Scotland community. He purchased some of the first parcels in Scotland and is an ancestor of many Dove and related family members who live in Scotland today.
View the Connecting Fairfax City’s Past and Present to Build a More Equitable and Inclusive Future talk with the City of Fairfax and Deputy Director Tanya Stern and Historic Preservation Office Supervisor Rebeccah Ballo.
View the County Cable Montgomery video segment titled “Street Names Changed” produced by Susan Kenedy featuring Deputy Director Tanya Stern and County Councilmember Andrew Friedson on the Montgomery County Street Renaming Project.
The process of renaming the streets
The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of M-NCPPC, unanimously approved a resolution to begin a process to rename the three county streets on January 14, 2021. The Planning Board’s resolution approval follows the October 1, 2020 initial briefing to the Planning Board on the street and park renaming project; the December 7, 2020 briefing to the Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee; and the January 12, 2021 briefing to the full County Council.
Montgomery Planning staff hosted a virtual community meeting with property owners and residents on the three streets on February 22, 2021 to brief them on the renaming project and solicit feedback on potential name options. On June 17, 2021, Montgomery Planning sent the owners and residents of the close to 65 impacted property addresses a letter notifying them of their new street names. The letter also included information on next steps for Montgomery Planning to implement the street name changes as well as steps for property owners to take.
Research Behind the Street and Parks Facilities Renaming Review Project
M-NCPPC staff’s Phase 1 findings focus on identifying a subset of the streets and park assets that have full name matches with nationally known confederates. Staff are focused on finding nationally known Confederates, local Confederates, Confederate sympathizers, and slaveholders between the 1790s through 1860s. Post-Civil War history and 20th century figures have not yet been considered.
M-NCPPC’s research to date has found 325 streets that have a preliminary match with the last names of Confederates and two parks that have a confirmed match with Confederate last names. M-NCPPC developed a database to conduct this research, which contains the names of a total of 709 known Confederates, including 269 that were residents of Montgomery County and 440 senior officers of the Confederate Army. It also contains the names of 5,826 local slaveholders and the names of over 3,300 enslaved individuals who were held in bondage in the County.
To find the match of street names and parks-owned facilities, M-NCPPC staff are cross referencing these names with a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based map data. Staff are then conducting a detailed cross-comparison to determine if a street or park facility is named for the Confederate/sympathizer or slaveholder on the list.
Additional research is still required to confirm last name associations for those streets and park assets with preliminary matches to M-NCPPC’s database of names. There are Confederate or slaveholder last names in the database that may not, after research, be found to correlate with a street or park name. Examples include Walter Johnson Road, named for a famous baseball player, but which was also the name of a Confederate.
The database is a work in progress but will be made available to the public for research and future use when historians have completed required additional work and quality control.
Equity Agenda to Build more Equitable Communities
As part of M-NCPPC, Montgomery Planning recognizes and acknowledges the role that its plans and policies have played in creating and perpetuating racial inequity in Montgomery County. Montgomery Planning is committed to transforming the way it works as staff seek to address, mitigate, and eliminate inequities from the past and develop planning solutions to create equitable communities in the future. While it will take time to fully develop a new methodology for equity in the planning process, the Montgomery Planning cannot delay applying an equity lens to its work. Efforts to date include:
- Developing an Equity Agenda for Planning. The Planning Board approved Equity in Master Planning Framework, and staff is working on action items.
- Equity Focus Area Analysis. Montgomery Planning staff analyzed the Equity Focus Areas of the county and developed a tool that will guide planning efforts.
- Prioritizing equity in Thrive Montgomery 2050. Community Equity is one of the three priority areas of our county General Plan update, Thrive Montgomery 2050.
- Focusing on equity in upcoming plans. Equity is a central focus of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan, the first master plan to launch since Montgomery County’s Racial Equity & Social Justice Act passed. All upcoming plans and studies will have an equity focus.
- Creating an Equity Focus Areas mapping tool and developing an Equity Opportunity Index. Equity Focus Areas in Montgomery County have high concentrations of lower-income people of color, who may also speak English less than very well. Montgomery Planning developed this data-driven tool to identify and map these areas to assess potential racial and social inequities and produce master plans that will foster more equitable outcomes for communities in Montgomery County.
- Viewing management and operations through an equity lens. Our efforts are not limited to the master planning process. Management and operational functions like communications and human resources are developing approaches, tools, plans, and training to ensure that we look at everything through an equity lens.