Elected officials in Tuscaloosa are weighing whether to rename part of a city street in honor of a beloved community doctor who transformed the area of town where he set up shop 25 years ago.

In a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Tuscaloosa City Council's Public Safety Committee, council president Kip Tyner championed the case to rename a stretch of 18th Avenue after Ramesh Peramsetty,  the founder and medical director of several medical offices operating under the banner of the Crimson Network.

Tyner said before Peramsetty opened his first clinic there in 1998, it was a rough part of Tuscaloosa.

"Years ago, that area was very blighted, extremely so, and [Peramsetty] built the urgent care, then he built Crimson Village Assisted Living, he has Memory Care there as well and now he's bought around 10 pieces of property [on 18th Avenue]," Tyner said. "He's remodeling every house and he's already put a physical therapy office in one house and he's going to put a different business in each one."

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Peramsetty was also a beacon of knowledge and resources during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped get March 28th officially declared Ramesh Peramsetty in the city of Tuscaloosa.

"There's no question he's ridden blight and certainly brought more revenue to the city with the new businesses, so in his 25th year doing work with the city, his staff has asked us to rename the section from Veterans Memorial Parkway to 13th Street East to Peramsetty Avenue," Tyner said.

Tyner told the committee and city staff that impact will be minimal since Peramsetty owns most if not all of the occupied offices and residences on that stretch of 18th Avenue.

The campaign to honor the doctor may not be without controversy, though. Some council members said they are reticent to rename more local streets after hearing backlash for passing a trio of similar measures last year rename portions of 21st Avenue in honor of Robert Almon, 6th Street in honor of Gary Fitts and 11th Street in honor of Civil Rights icon Maxie Thomas.

Councilmen Lee Busby and John Faile were vocally opposed to more new street names, which they said were confusing to first responders and residents, although Faile signaled he might make an exception for this measure specifically because of its limited impact.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

"I love this gentleman, he is so helpful to this whole city, but we have opened Pandora's box on these street renamings," Busby said.

Zach Ponds, the city's planning director, also said municipal staff would, as a general rule, not recommend renamings and also shared guidance established in city code that says "proposals to name streets for individuals still living or recently deceased shall be generally disfavored."

The committee briefly weighed tabling the matter until they could hear more from other council members and city staff, but Tyner asked for the matter to be expedited and a motion to advance the matter to the full city council passed with a split vote with Busby opposed.

Now, the council will host three public hearings where residents can weigh in on the proposed change before an eventual vote, which could be held late next month at the earliest. After the third hearing, a simple majority vote of the council will approve or deny the renaming.

For more on the process as it unfolds, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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