Letter: Ken Reid, Norfolk

Editor: Despite being out of elected office in Loudoun, I can still manage to read and understand the “action items” presented to the Board of Supervisors, where I served the Leesburg District from 2012 to 2015 and on the Town Council 2006 to 2011 and again in 2017.  

Call me weird, but I decided to read the May 18 County Transportation and Infrastructure report to the board on the renaming of Route 7 (Harry Byrd Highway) and Route 50 (John Mosby Highway) after a Leesburg friend told me it was possible Market Street in Leesburg (Business 7) was named for a slave trader named “Market.” I haven’t been able to confirm that yet.

According to the staff report, which was an initiative of Vice Chair Koran Saines, the cost to county taxpayers to rename Route 7 and 50 is enormous—$621,000 if the signs are the same size, $3,204,000 for larger signs “should the replacement name require a larger sign.” This means if Route 7 were renamed Charles Waddell Highway—he was a former Loudoun state senator who got Route 7 west of Leesburg built as an expressway— the higher cost would prevail.

I, for one, would like Route 7 renamed for Charlie, a Democrat, who did a lot for Loudoun County long ago, including getting the Route 28 Tax District going to turn the road into an expressway.

However, these figures are only the cost to county taxpayers for signage and engineering. According to the staff report, “The costs associated with changing a commercial business address are likely to be more substantial and include items such as, but not limited to, replacing signage, marketing materials, and legal documents that are specific to the business.”  

Among properties with addresses “Harry Byrd Highway,” about 255 are private homes and 95 are businesses. For “Mosby Highway,” there are 146 residential and 148 commercial “uses.” Staff recommends a “stipend program” to help business, so this would further cost your taxpayers. Only $1 million was identified in the county’s Capital Improvement Program to foot these costs.

Given Loudoun’s huge growth and transportation and infrastructure needs, I would think there’s a better use for this $3.2 million. In addition, I would hope there would be concerns about the precedent this would set for other streets and roads.

In a July 6 follow-up report to the board, county staff identified nine of other roads bearing “Confederate and Segregationist Symbols.” What would be the cost to the county and residents to rename these streets? And, if this effort to blot out the memory of Confederates continues, will the town of Leesburg be pressured, too? So many streets in town limits are named for Confederates, possibly Market Street which has hundreds of businesses and addresses.

But because Byrd and Mosby highways are state roads under VDOT control, and the Mosby and Byrd names extend to counties beyond Loudoun, perhaps the county board can ask the General Assembly for the funding to accomplish these name changes. Or, just post those big brown signs along the road: “Dedicated to the memory of Xxx.”      

However, all of this “woke” renaming and removal of monuments is symbolic. None of it will do anything to help rectify the “achievement gap” among black and Latino students, nor move the ball forward for the struggling underclass.

Perhaps “Loudoun” should be renamed LoCo Woke-o County.

Ken Reid, Norfolk

3 thoughts on “Letter: Ken Reid, Norfolk

  • 2021-07-09 at 7:29 am

    It ain’t often I agree with Reid, it seems the name must have something to do with it, at least Ken is thought provoking when I do disagree compared to the rubber stamp Reid in the 32nd.

  • 2021-07-09 at 12:40 pm

    You have submitted a thoughtful letter that overlooks the fact that this isn’t really about specific names. The current insanity embraced by the BoS seeks to change SOME names associated with the Confederacy and slavery but NOT all names. Hence the fact that Leesburg, Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington are NEVER considered objectionable even though all are named for slaveholders.

    Furthermore, Waddell is a name associated with the Confederacy. Simply note that James Iredell Waddell was an officer in the Confederate Navy. By any logic, this ought to forever exclude the surname “Waddell” from any place name in Loudoun County. Every family or place name in Virginia is quite likely to have some unfortunate connection to some objectionable period of American history.

    ESPN removed an Asian man named Robert Lee from covering UVA football games because of his name. Should the now inconveniently named Lt. Governor face similar sanctions? Any group can now declare any proper noun “objectionable” and demand it be renamed. Once started, this insanity never ends. It’s best not to start the insanity rather than seek to accommodate it.

  • 2021-07-11 at 3:35 am

    From the Lee Family archives. Leesburg was named after Thomas Lee.

    Thomas Lee

    Thomas was the fourth son of Richard the younger (or the fifth if you count the eldest, John, who died in infancy). In an age where the eldest male of a family held special privileges, Thomas would build the family’s most enduring structure, Stratford Hall. The eldest surviving son, Richard, left Virginia for London, where he entered his uncle’s tobacco merchant firm. Thomas’s education was inferior to his brothers. He did not attend university in England, and his inherited lands were of lesser size and value (both defects of course hurt his marriage prospects). He got his start working in his father’s office as receiver of shipping duties. Yet the father of the Stratford Lees was intelligent and ambitious, and he exploited his family’s political and business connections to great effect.

    Tobacco and Slaves

    With help from his father, Thomas Lee secured an important appointment as agent to the Fairfax family, the proprietors of the Northern Neck, and the same family that first employed George Washington. Over time, he amassed nearly 30,000 acres of land. His interest in the frontier led to his becoming the guiding spirit and first president of the Ohio Company. Lee was named to the Governor’s Council in 1732, and sixteen years later became that body’s president, earning him the title of “President of Virginia.” Thomas served as the colony’s acting governor. In that capacity, he dealt with French “intruders” on the Ohio frontier, which he did by creating alliances with the chiefs of the Six Nations. Lee also became a large slave holder, who eventually owned 500 black workers, who labored in the family’s tobacco fields.

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