City of Auburn crews took down the signs for Mike Hubbard Boulevard and pushed them into the bed of a utility truck as an area resident stood nearby and cheered them on from the side of the road on Thursday morning.
The removal of the signs come after the Auburn City Council approved the renaming of Mike Hubbard Boulevard at its virtual meeting on Tuesday night.
That stretch of road will be renamed Bent Creek Road, at least temporarily, as some council members expressed an interest in possibly renaming it in someone else's honor, a suggestion they had received over the past month from constituents.
Any Auburn resident can request the renaming of a street by sending a formal letter to the Planning Department. The renaming request will then go before the Planning Commission and City Council for consideration.
"I support the change to move it to Bent Creek at this time," said Ward 2 Councilman Kelley Griswold. "But I just would like to point out that there were a number of other very worthy suggestions for renaming the road.
"Also, I would like to note that I was very fortunate to ... go on a tour of our city sign shop, and I was impressed with the relative ease with which a new sign can be created."
Many in the Auburn community have wanted the road's name changed since a Lee County Circuit Court jury convicted former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard on 12 felony counts in June of 2016. After a lengthy appeals process, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld convictions on six felony ethics counts in April. A previous City Council named the road after Hubbard in 2009.
Soon after the Alabama Supreme Court upheld six counts in April, Hubbard sent a letter to Auburn Mayor Ron Anders asking that the road be renamed, stating that he didn't want it to be a "distraction to much more important issues facing the city."
"He is indeed correct that it is a minor issue compared to the more pressing issues of student housing, short-term rentals, board appointments, a world pandemic, and it figured very low on the totem pole of importance," said Ward 6 Councilman Bob Parsons. "However, it was always a regular issue that was brought to many of the council members from many, many people in the public. And I think it's only reasonable to reframe Mr. Hubbard's suggestion — that we are actually just doing the people's work. We are here to represent the views of the people, and I think we've done it fairly."
Ward 8 Councilman Tommy Dawson voted against the measure because he wanted the road renamed Robert Pitts Boulevard. Pitts graduated from Auburn University in 1933 and headed the school's Department of Aerospace Engineering for 35 years.
"I got a lot of calls from constituents, and I just feel like it should be named after him," said Dawson, who responded to Parsons and recognized the many contributions Hubbard made to the Auburn community and Auburn Police Division over the years. "Let me just say that Mr. Hubbard did an awful lot for this community. I hate he got in the situation he's in. I hate he had to go through it. I hate his family had to go through it. I know he probably brought it on himself.
"I know we need to change this thing, but I don't think it should take away from the great work the man did for the Auburn community."
Ward 1 Councilwoman Connie Fitch Taylor also said she had heard from constituents who wanted the road renamed Pitts.
The council approved the ordinance by a 6-1 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Beth Witten and Ward 4 Councilman Brett Smith abstaining.