Sept. 13 2010 12:00 AM

The Lansing City Council will vote tonight on renaming Main Street to Malcolm X Street

Ammahad Shekarraki has spent years trying to get Malcolm X memorialized in Lansing. His petitions may finally pay off tonight, when the Council is scheduled to vote on renaming Main Street as Malcolm X Street. Main runs from Lansing Road on the west side to River Street just before the Grand River and then, going east, from Parker Street to Aurelius Road, all on the south side of I-496.

Shekarraki submitted an application to the city on March 15 for the name change. Members of the Memorial Review Board issued an informal statement in support of the name change after the board did not reach quorum at a meeting to support it for the Council’s consideration.

Shekarraki has said that his efforts to memorialize X in Lansing date back to 1993. X grew up in south Lansing, where he was known as Malcolm Little.

The Council’s vote, however, may reflect a divided public.

On Tuesday, the board of directors for the Educational Child Care Center, which is located on Main Street between Nipp Avenue and West Street, wrote a letter to the City Council in opposition of the name change because of the historical significance of Main Street and also because of potential costs for changing stationary. The child care center is located in the former Main Street Elementary School and is one of the leading childhood education providers in Lansing.

“Changing the street’s name will prevent us from honoring the history of our neighborhood, and will create significant confusion among the customers EC3 hopes to reach,” the letter says.

The board estimates that costs to change stationary could exceed $5,500. “This is, very literally, the difference between being able to offer our employees coverage for dental and vision care or not,” the letter says.

On Sept. 2, a 25-signature petition from Main Street residents and neighbors was sent to City Council members opposing the name change.

There are two other Malcolm X memorials in Lansing. One is a Michigan Historical Marker at 4705 S. Martin Luther King Blvd. (his old residence that is now a townhome complex) and the second is El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Public School Academy, a REO Town charter school named after him.

In other Council business, a public hearing is scheduled for tonight’s meeting to discuss a proposed ordinance that would regulate medical marijuana caregivers within city limits.

The draft ordinance prohibits advertising on the property and limits one primary caregiver to operate from each home. Any in-home caregiver services must be located at least 1,000 feet from public or private schools (elementary through college), playgrounds, churches, public and private youth centers, public swimming pools and substance abuse treatment centers.

At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood has said this ordinance intentionally does not address dispensaries, but only caregivers who wish to see patients from their home. The Lansing Planning Board has approved the latest version of the ordinance, which was drafted in June.

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