ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) – Veterans in one New Mexico community want a highway that runs through their city to be named in their honor, but their city councilors want something else. Monday, those veterans protested.
A group of veterans in Elephant Butte said they have hundreds of supporters. However, the city decided to go with a name that city councilors claim better suits the area.
“What do we want? Veterans Parkway!” A group of veterans chanted, and held signs along Highway 195 in Elephant Butte Monday afternoon. They’re fired up about the name chosen by city councilors for the highway.
The City of Elephant Butte recently gained control of the highway from the state. As part of a marketing effort, city officials wanted to give the highway a name. They asked the public for input.
“We wanted to know what they felt we should name our city to promote our city for tourism,” explained Elephant Butte Mayor, Eunice Kent.
Retired Air Force Captain, Dallas Lipscomb, saw the highway naming as a perfect opportunity for the city to honor veterans, by calling it ‘Veterans Parkway.’
“They should put their money where their mouth is,” said Lipscomb. He said naming the highway after veterans would enforce the city’s effort to be one of the most patriotic cities. “They should say, ‘yes we not only support, we show you we support veterans.'”
“By naming Hwy 195 “Veterans Parkway” it’s the right way for Elephant Butte to remember and honor the sacrifices of those who have served and sacrificed in the past, present and the future,” Lipscomb said.
Lipscomb said 246 signatures were gathered in six days to support the name, Veterans Parkway. However, all three city councilors voted instead, for the name ‘Butte Boulevard.’
“They should be trying to target a market, I think that’s a better return on your investment than just calling it Butte Boulevard, they might as well have said Main Street,” Lipscomb told KRQE News 13. He said the area is known for it’s patriotism, especially as a destination for veteran-related holidays from tourists.
City officials said they did get feedback from the community, and claim the majority of people like the name Butte Boulevard.
“Once the council needed to vote on it, they took into consideration what they had heard from the constituents, and that was that we wanted to promote the image of our city,” explained Mayor Kent. “Because a lot of people talk about coming to the Butte.”
Still, the group of vets who protested, said the name ‘Butte’ is already used in enough names around town, and they want a public vote.
Mayor Kent said the name, ‘Butte Boulevard,’ doesn’t mean the city is not patriotic. “We are a pro veteran community,” she said. “The city of Elephant Butte has promoted very strongly our veterans.”
Kent said she talked to some local veterans about coming to a compromise. She said councilors will soon vote to add a small veterans garden or park, and name a half-mile stretch of the roadway ‘Veterans Parkway.’
The veterans that protested Monday said they don’t believe that a majority of the city would agree on the name ‘Butte Boulevard,’ since the city didn’t take an official poll from the public.
Lipscomb said if there’s a concern about the cost to put the name to a vote, he would help raise funds.