Just in time for Memorial Day, the city of Bonney Lake is putting the finishing touches on plans for the unveiling of Veterans Memorial Drive East, the new name approved last year for the stretch of the Sumner-Buckley Highway that runs through the city.
Signs with the new name have started appearing at intersections throughout the mile-long stretch of roadway, but the official unveiling of the name is set for 4:30 p.m. May 25.
According to Special Events Coordinator David Wells, most of the city council, Mayor Neil Johnson and special guests such as members of the American Legion will be on hand for the unveiling.
“We are going to take a few minutes and honor some vets by changing the name from Sumner-Buckley Highway to Veterans Memorial Drive,” he said.
The name change was approved by the council Nov. 22 after several months of discussion.
Council member Mark Hamilton led the push for the name change last fall. Hamilton said he was spurred to propose the change by the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks and the decade of war that has followed. Hamilton said the high profile of the road, plus it’s historical use as a military route between Fort Walla Walla and Fort Steilacoom made it a natural choice. Plus, he argued, having a major road in the city named for two smaller towns that surround it – especially when the road is no longer the primary connector between them – did not make sense either.
But not everyone was pleased with the change.
Many longtime residents complained the council was removing part of the city’s heritage while several business owners along the stretch of road complained that customers would not be able to find them if the name was changed and that they would incur additional costs because of changes to advertising, signs and business cards.
After several weeks of discussion, the council approved the change by a vote of 4-2 with former council members Dan Decker and Laurie Carter voting against the measure.
As a compromise, the city will also unveil a brown “Historic Sumner-Buckley Highway” sign during the ceremony.
Wells said the sign being unveiled – which is designed for this purpose and not one of the road signs that will hang above the intersection, will be given to the Bonney Lake Veterans Memorial Committee, which originally proposed the name change in 2008 and is working toward the building of a Veterans Memorial, presently slated for the intersection of Main Street and state Route 410, across from the Justice Center.
The renaming ceremony will take place on the northeast corner of Main Street East and Veterans Memorial Drive E / Historic Sumner-Buckley Highway E. Parking for the event will be available on Main Street East, north of Veterans Memorial Drive East, as well as at the Annex building at 8720 Main Street E.
Refreshments will follow the ceremony; in the case of rain, refreshments will be served at the Public Safety Building
The event is free and open to the public.