The process of renaming Mike Hubbard Boulevard is underway after the City Council remanded the issue to the Planning Commission during its Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday night.
The move comes after the Alabama Supreme Court upheld six felony ethics counts against former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard on April 10. The court also reversed five counts, citing insufficient evidence or incorrect interpretations of the Ethics Code, according to the court's main opinion.
A jury in Lee County Circuit Court convicted Hubbard on 12 of 23 felony counts in June 2016. The court ordered Hubbard to serve four years in prison. In August 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the convictions on 11 of the 12 counts against Hubbard.
The call from some Auburn residents to rename Mike Hubbard Boulevard came soon after the former speaker was convicted in 2016, and multiple City Council members have brought up the issue in recent months. The road has been named after Hubbard since October 2009, when a previous Auburn City Council unanimously approved the measure.
In a letter dated three days after the Alabama Supreme Court upheld six counts, Hubbard asked Auburn Mayor Ron Anders to return the road to its former name, stating he didn't want the issue to be a "distraction to much more important issues facing the city."
The City Council recommended that the name of the road be changed to Bent Creek Road.
"If there's a wish to rename this for another individual, that will be its own debate and own discussion for another time. It's my suggestion that this is the best way for us to handle this at this time."
City Manager Jim Buston said he has spoken to Bill Hutto, the director at the Auburn Airport, who thought it would be much easier for the airport if the road was renamed Bent Creek Road.
"It would be easier for them to direct people to find their location," Buston said.
The Planning Commission could take up the measure as soon as its meeting on May 14. The earliest it could come before the council is at its May 19 meeting.
City Councilman Bob Parsons inquired whether the signs for Mike Hubbard Boulevard could be pulled down immediately, which Anders and Buston said could not be done before the street is officially renamed.
"The signs cannot be removed," said Buston. "They are there to identify for 911, for emergency responders. They're there for public safety as much as anything, and they have to remain until they are replaced."