By David Pendered
This was one street renaming that engendered almost no conversation – replacing the name Wieuca with the name Chastain along a section of road that runs through Chastain Park, located in North Buckhead.
Neither name seems to have garnered strong advocates. No one came to speak at a public hearing the Atlanta City Council convened on April 23. The council affirmed the renaming by unanimous vote at its May 6 meeting.
The motive to rename West Wieuca Road, NW to Chastain Park Avenue had nothing to do with heritage. Heritage has been an important factor in street renamings over the past decade.
This renaming had everything to do with public safety, according to Atlanta City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit, who sponsored the measure.
“Not only are citizens confused, but public safety vehicles are confused as well,” Matzigkeit said. “In an effort to increase public safety, the proposal is to change the name of that street.”
The reason to change the name seems obvious to those who struggle with it – including The Galloway School. West Wieuca Road changes its suffix from NE to NW at its intersection with a road that has no particular profile – Lake Forrest Road.
James Calleroz White, head of The Galloway School, wrote a letter in support of renaming the road the road that passes by the school from its current name, West Wieuca Road NW, to Chastain Park Drive:
- “In the next academic year, The Galloway School will have existed at the address of 215 West Wieuca Road, NW … for 50 years.
- “During that time, there often has been confusion about the exact location of the school, due to the distinction between the NW and NE designations….
- “The confusion extends to dispatchers or police, fire and emergency medical services who have mis-directed vehicles due to the proximity of the northeast/northwest change…
- “On behalf of The Galloway School, I endorse the change of the name of West Wieuca Road, NW.”
This situation is different from the streets closer to Downtown Atlanta that change names as they cross an historic dividing line. One example of this phenomenon is Boulevard NE, as the street is named as the road passes Zoo Atlanta. Once it passes through Old Fourth Ward and crosses Ponce de Leon Avenue NE, the road becomes Monroe Drive NE.
If there’s a reason West Wieuca changes from NE to NW at the Lake Forrest Drive intersection, it wasn’t discussed at the meetings. The names of both Wieuca and Chastain harken to an earlier time. The name Chastain is generally attributed to a former Fulton County commissioner, Troy Green Chastain, who advocated the development of the park. Wieuca is said to result from the names of daughters of a developer – WILMA, EUGENIA, and CATHERN — WI-EU-CA, according to an entry by longtime resident Atlanta Louis Mayeux on a webpage of the North Buckhead Civic Association.
Following Wieuca Road can be a confusing task as it winds across the Nancy Creek area:
- East of Nancy Creek, the road is named Wieuca Road.
- West of the creek, it splits and the two roads are named Wieuca Road NE and West Wieuca Road NE.
- At Roswell Road, Wieuca Road NE crosses Roswell Road and then deadends.
- At Roswell Road, West Wieuca Road NE crosses Roswell Road and retains the name West Wieuca Road NE.
- West Wieuca Road NE crosses Lake Forrest Drive NE and changes names to West Wieuca Road NW.
- West Wieuca Road NW cuts through Chastain Park and deadends at Powers Ferry Road.
“There’s a lot of confusion because of the Northeast and Northwest designation,” Matzigkeit said of West Wieuca Road at the April 23 meeting of the council’s Utilities Committee, which he chairs.