New street names honor Eugene’s past
On Nov. 26, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis unveiled the three street names chosen for the new Downtown Riverfront. Picked from a narrowed down list of over 1,000 suggested names, the three winners were announced at 10:45 a.m. at the future site of the Downtown Riverfront.
The three winners: Annie Mims Lane, Wiley Griffon Way and Nak-nak Avenue. All three hold great historical and cultural significance for the City of Eugene.
Annie Mims, with her husband C.B., were the first African Americans to own a house in the city. Griffon, too, was one of the earliest African American homeowners — living in a small house on 4th Ave. Both during a time when African Americans weren’t permitted to reside in Eugene or the state of Oregon as a whole. “Nak-nak” is a Kalapuya — the original inhabitants of Willamette Valley — word for “duck.”
The city’s website states that “the three-acre Downtown Riverfront Park and one-acre Plaza will be the heart of the greater riverfront development that re-imagines a new, vibrant future and will, once again, unite our city with the river.”
Originally proposed as a joint venture between the city and the Eugene Water & Electric Board as the latter owned the property being developed. In 2013, EWEB decided to outright sell the property to the city. The deal was finalized in April 2018 for $5.75 million.
Planning for a 2021 opening — ideally in time for the World Athletic Championships hosted by the city at the University of Oregon — the park will include unobstructed views and access to the river, pedestrian and bicycle paths that meander through riparian, upland and meadow habitats.
In the City of Eugene press release, Mayor Vinis said that “The creativity of our community really came through with all of the name suggestions.” Also there to announce the names were those individuals who submitted them.