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'Paterno Way' Question Appears to Rest in Local Hands, Not Harrisburg

on March 05, 2012 11:31 AM

UPDATED @ 11:31 a.m. Monday: While Park Avenue technically is a state roadway, it appears possible that College Township and State College borough could change its street-sign name without formal state approval or legislation, a state spokeswoman said Monday.

Tony Ricciardi, the WBUS program director, has been a key leader in the push to change Park Avenue's name to "Paterno Way." In a letter to State College Borough Council, he wrote supporters are hopeful that state legislation will complete the name-changing process -- with backing from the municipal governments.

But the ability to change Park Avenue's local name seems to be a local matter, PennDOT spokeswoman Marla Fannin said. Local leaders shared a similar understanding.

Regardless of the local name granted to the thoroughfare, its state-assigned route number would be unchanged.

Park Avenue runs through both College Township and State College borough. College Township Council members heard the name-change idea last week, appeared supportive and deferred official action. State College Borough Council members are scheduled to receive the name-change proposal Monday and may schedule a public hearing for a date as soon as April.

Earlier coverage is posted below.

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Initial report, posted @ 6:49 a.m. March 5:

A push to rename Park Avenue as "Paterno Way" will land before State College Borough Council on Monday night.

Led via radio station WBUS (93.7 FM/The Bus), the effort has generated more than 7,000 signatures of support from across the country. More than 100 of them are from people who identify as borough residents, according to Tony Ricciardi, the WBUS program director.

In a Feb. 29 letter to council members, Ricciardi wrote that WBUS started its street-renaming petition Jan. 23, the day after Paterno, 85, died of lung-cancer complications.

"Despite the news in the last few months, we thought people who live and work in State College would still want a tribute along the lines of a street renaming," Ricciardi wrote. "It was suggested to start a petition, let our audience at The Bus know about it and see what happens."

The longtime Penn State football coach walked along Park Avenue -- to and from work -- for decades, Ricciardi noted. It also will be home to the under-construction Catholic faith center that will bear the name of Sue Paterno, his wife.

Plus, Park Avenue "intersects with McKee Street (where the Paternos live), runs along dormitories and classrooms, Beaver Stadium and the Mount Nittany Medical Center," Ricciardi wrote. "The road represents (Paterno's) State College life from beginning to end. It is also a street shared between campus, the State College community and the state of Pennsylvania. Joe Paterno was not just about campus or the just the community; he was about the whole area, shared by all."

Park Avenue runs through both College Township and State College borough.

College Township Council members appeared generally supportive of the street-renaming idea at a meeting last week, but moved to defer official action for a few months. They suggested seeking input from parties along Park Avenue, according to a Centre Daily Times report.

Because Park Avenue technically is under the jurisdiction of the state, Ricciardi has written, "Paterno Way" supporters are hopeful that state legislation will be introduced to complete the name-changing process. In the meantime, they would like the formal support and endorsements of both the State College and College Township councils.

State College Borough Council members may formally receive the "Paterno Way" petition Monday night and schedule a public hearing on the matter, perhaps for a date as early as April. The Monday meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the borough municipal building, 243 S. Allen St.

It will be carried live via C-NET's CGTV (Comcast channel 7).

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