Community Debates Imperial Avenue Name Change

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Some in Cleveland's Mount Pleasant community believe the name of Imperial Avenue should be changed because of bad connotations the street’s name has to serial killer Anthony Sowell.

Sowell murdered 11 women in his Imperial Avenue home between 2008 and 2009 and now sits on death row.

"After what happened, it gave the whole neighborhood a bad reputation," said Nick Tayah, who owns Amira Imperial Beverage on Imperial Avenue.

Bishop Eugene Ward, Jr. said the Mt. Pleasant Ministerial Alliance has met with city council members a handful of times about changing the name of Imperial Avenue.

"Because it's left a stigma for the people who are in the community. With that stigma, it makes the citizens on the street feel a blight within their own neighborhood,"  Ward said.

Lyvennia Williams said she once lived next door to the serial killer.

"Honestly, I don't think the neighborhood should change at all just because of Anthony Sowell," Williams said.

"I don't really think they should change the name. He's gone now," said Ricardo Williams.

"It's better if you take that bad name and give it a different name," Tayeh said.

"I can't see them changing the name. I can't see them doing that because it's been here too long," said Barbara Miller.

Another idea being mulled over is taking the lot where Anthony Sowell's house once stood and making it a memorial for his victims, Ward said, adding that decision will be up to the victims' families.

Ward said renaming Imperial Avenue will be up to the city.