Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Campus wants street renamed



By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Leaders of Miami University's branch campus here think a street name change could improve the image of its neighborhood, once a shantytown.

School officials want the city to change Peck Boulevard to University Boulevard "as a matter of identity," says Daniel E. Hall, Hamilton branch director.

The campus was built in 1968 on land south of downtown known as Peck's Addition, which until the early 1980s had no city water, no sewers and no paved roads.

"We're the largest resident on Peck Boulevard. The thinking is that 'University' conveys to future occupants what kind of neighborhood this is," Hall says.

The street was named after John Pascal Paoli Peck, a physician who helped found the First National Bank of Hamilton (1862) and Union Central Life Insurance Co. (1867), according to the Butler County Historical Society.

Peck owned several large tracts south of downtown, which he developed for housing. Originally settled by Appalachians, Peck's Addition was home to about a dozen families living in extreme poverty as late as 1981. Outhouses, coal piles, firewood and horse-drawn plows were still a familiar sight then, according to a 1981 Enquirer story.

In 35 years, the Hamilton branch - referred to as "Peck Tech" by some - has grown to six buildings. The city ice arena also was built on the property.

Since the 1960s, the city has purchased small residential parcels for redevelopment as an 80-acre site for office space and light industrial, says Rick Kuhl, a senior planner at the Hamilton Planning Commission. The Lane Public Library plans to build an administration office, he says.

The planning commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed change for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 1.

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E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com




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