Georgia Department of Transportation Board member Sam Wellborn made the suggestion and Uptown Columbus Inc.seconded it. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is waiting on a motion from Columbus Council to refer it to the City's Board of Honor for consideration.
Nothing could be more logical than a riverfront memorial to Martin, who died last August at the age of 73. For years, people said the city's future hinged on how we developed the stream that inspired Sidney Lanier's epic poem. Others talked. Frank Martin acted. And that is how we remember him.
The outspoken defense attorney solved the Combined Sewer Overflow problem and then he paved over it, creating a walkway that drew people back to the river. Martin served as mayor from 1991 to 1994. Given his resume and the way he made the city believe in itself, you would think naming the pedestrian bridge for him would be an easy call.
But remember: this is politics.
First, there was the matter of jurisdiction. Was naming it the responsibility of the state DOT or the city? City Attorney Clifton Fay answered that. He said giving it a name was a city decision.
Last week Tomlinson sent an email to council members that said the bridge isn't named for anyone and never has been. She advised that supporters feel it's appropriate since the building of the RiverWalk "led to the possibility of Whitewater." They want it done in time for the opening of Whitewater Columbus on Memorial Day.
But naming public facilities is not as simple as naming a puppy. The mayor can't do it. Council can't do it. The Board of Honor must approve it.
Created by an ordinance in 1975, the board is composed of former city officials. It was established "for the purpose of honoring deceased citizens through a continuing memorial program under which public activities, buildings, bridges and other facilities may be named for citizens who have distinguished themselves through services to the city."
Members are former mayors Bobby Peters, Bob Poydasheff and Bob Hydrick; former council members Billy Watson, Jack Rodgers, John Wells and Milton Hirsch; and Deputy Clerk of Council Sandra Davis.
If you know your political genealogy, you know that when he was living several members of the Board of Honor weren't card-carrying members of the Frank Martin Fan Club. (And the feeling was mutual.) But if this plan gets to the board, let's hope they put aside old differences.
Name the bridge for him so those who cross it can remember his distinguished service.
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at email@example.com.