In Our View: Arguments Worth Having

Proposed name changes inspire creativity, and stoke community pride



One good way to ignite a spirited discussion (if not a rowdy argument) in Clark County is to suggest a name change.

Mention the mere possibility … in the distant future … of maybe changing Vancouver to “Fort Vancouver” or — egads! — “The ‘Couv” and opinionated folks on both sides start fussin’.We doubt if the Vancouver name-change dispute will ever go away, which is a good thing because the discussion promotes creative thought and stokes community pride. It’s kind of like the designated hitter in baseball: something we were meant to forever argue about but never resolve.

Two more local name changes worth debating pertain to the Columbia River Crossing and the Salmon Creek neighborhood. If we ever get a new bridge built, keeping the “Interstate 5 Bridge” name sure seems mundane. Gosh, aren’t we more creative than that? Longview has its Lewis and Clark Bridge and Cascade Locks has its Bridge of the Gods, but we’re stuck with our I-5 Bridge. Bor-r-r-r-r-ing. A new bridge might be many years in the future, but it’s not too soon to start fussin’ abut a new name.

As for Salmon Creek, lots of people wonder why one street has five names: Bliss Road, Northwest 139th Street, Northeast Tenney Road, Northeast 134th Street and Northeast Salmon Creek Avenue. Why not give it one name — say, Boldt Boulevard or Madore Parkway — and clear up all the confusion?

Again, we believe these discussions are worthwhile, certainly nothing to worry about. This kind of squabbling goes on just about everywhere, especially where imagination intersects with tradition.

Take, for example, University Place, just west of Tacoma. Visionary leaders there want to change the city name to Chambers Bay. You guessed it, a real rowdy name-change dustup has erupted. The name-changers make two good points. First, University Place has no university, and never has had one. According to The News Tribune in Tacoma, the name is traced to the late 1800s when founders of the University of Puget Sound wanted to build the university there, but changed their minds. The name stuck. Second, what the TNT calls “one of the world’s premier sports events will be held at the Chambers Bay Golf Course” in University Place in 2015. It’s the famed U.S. Open golf tournament, and changing the city name to Chambers Bay makes sense to some people. As the newspaper opined: “No amount of money could buy that kind of exposure.”

The name-keepers want none of it. One online commenter said it’s “a ridiculous, half-baked idea, thought up by short-sighted maniacs. It’s laughable that anyone should even have to point that out.” Stay tuned; this squabble ain’t over yet.

Meanwhile, the Washington State Committee on Geographic Names will meet on Oct. 9 to consider 14 proposed name changes for geographical features, none in Clark County. Four are in San Juan County, all colorful names, changes proposed mostly for purposes of clarification: Gossip Islands, Kangaroo Point, Lone Tree Island and Tharold Pond. Sounds reasonable, but don’t be surprised if an argument or two ensues. Like we said, though, nothing to worry about. That’s what happens in our state when creativity collides with custom.