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Citing Costs, Businesses Balk at Naming Street for Challenger Astronaut

September 07, 1986|MICHELE L. NORRIS | Times Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO — City Councilman Robert Anderson never dreamed that anyone would dare oppose his plan to honor a local hero.

But now, looking back on his proposal to rename Nash Street to honor Greg Jarvis, one of the astronauts killed in the space shuttle Challenger explosion, he says the idea may have been a bit "naive."

The proposal was Anderson's first action after he was elected in April. At first the idea stirred enthusiasm among council members and residents, but it fell flat when several businesses along Nash street complained that the name change would force them to reprint everything that carried their addresses.

"I really didn't expect all this adverse criticism," Anderson said. "The rest of the members of the crew have been recognized all over the country, so it seemed fitting that we should do something for Jarvis since he spent so much of his time here."

Jarvis was an engineer for Hughes Aircraft Co., the city's biggest employer.

The criticism from Nash Street businesses has prompted city officials to look at other memorials, such as a street within the Hughes complex, or the Vista del Mar bicycle path. Anderson, who still favors the name change, said he plans to meet with Hughes officials to discuss these possibilities.

"We have not completely scratched the plan to rename Nash Street," said Hughes spokesman Jack Bateman. "You could say that we have put it on the back burner."

Anderson said he chose Nash Street because the Hughes building where Jarvis worked is located there. Nash Street, which was named for a now-closed Nash Motor Co. factory, runs through the city's industrial center from Imperial Highway to Rosecrans Avenue. The street has a mixture of massive aerospace firms, small businesses and warehouses.

Nearly all of the 26 businesses along the 1-mile street oppose the name change, said Wesley Bush, president of the El Segundo Chamber of Commerce.

"The businesses are not opposed to setting up a memorial to Greg Jarvis," Bush said. "They are just opposed to this idea because it would place a great financial burden on them. It would mean that they would have to change their stationery, their business cards, anything with their address on it. It's just not a good idea."

Most complaints have come from small and middle-size businesses.

"I think it would be a real fine statement, but for a small business like ours, it would be a serious burden to do the kinds of things the name change would necessitate," said Jim Zimring, vice president and general manager of Kane Industries, an importer and wholesaler of housewares.

All of the business people interviewed by The Times said they would like to see the astronaut honored--but not at their expense.

"I think a lot of the smaller businesses resent having to bear the cost of honoring a man who worked for a huge company like Hughes," said Elizabeth Tucker, office manager for Agbabian Associates, a consulting firm.

"If Hughes thinks they need to honor him, they have plenty of buildings and plenty of money to do it."

Hughes, which plans to pick up the city's costs for a Jarvis memorial, has named a rocket after Jarvis; it will carry Air Force navigation satellites into orbit. But Anderson maintains that Jarvis is "a national hero" who deserves more attention than that.

The City Council is leaning toward a plan to name the bike path after Jarvis. "It is unfair for companies to have to make this kind of switch when they have spent so many years building a reputation at one address," said City Councilman Keith Schuldt. "I like the idea of naming the bike path . . . since he rode that path almost every day for three years."

Jarvis commuted from his home in Hermosa Beach to Hughes.

The Hermosa Beach City Council has approved a tentative plan to build a memorial rest stop along its beach-side bicycle path to honor Jarvis, and a committee appointed by the council has used donations to establish a Challenger science laboratory at Hermosa Valley School.

Anderson said he sympathizes with the Nash Street business people and said he did not realize that his plan would cost them money.

But he still thinks it's a good idea.

"I think naming a street after the astronaut is the best idea because it sort of keeps his name alive," Anderson said. "People would use his name often so he won't be forgotten."

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