Veterans in Hales Corners want more home-grown name for New Berlin Road

C.T. Kruger
Veterans are proposing to change the name of South New Berlin Road in Hales Corners, possibly to tie into the War Memorial in Hales Corners.
Published on: 6/10/2014

Hales Corners — It's hard to believe that the road in Hales Corners that houses its city hall, public library, veterans memorial, police department and park is named after New Berlin, the city right next door.

Nevertheless, South New Berlin Road is its name. But that reality doesn't fly with local veterans of the American Legion Post and the VFW. Some of its members are discussing possible name changes with this justification: 'Why not?'

Some of their suggested alternatives include Hales Corners Avenue, Veterans Drive or South Memorial Drive.

'It's just a thought,' said Jim Helminski, local commander of American Legion. 'We want something that belongs to our village. It would give it a more personal touch. You wouldn't want to be called 'Chicago Bears,' would ya? That's where we're coming from.'

While no formal proposal has been drafted, members of the Veterans Memorial Committee have considered this change for years, but with a renewed emphasis more recently since the memorial was built in 2011 and dedicated in 2012.

The memorial is set in a 50-square-foot plaza and features five pillars, which represent each military branch. They also form a five-pointed star surrounding a lighted American flag.

Village trustee Donald Schwartz, who is currently the Village Memorial liaison, said that both organizations have asked him to help with this name-changing process.

'I'm all for it. I think it'll give our community a little more identity,' said Schwartz. 'We can't begin until we initiate the process, but I think ... I think it's worth at least trying to do.'

Street name changes can be done, but Village Administrator Mike Weber said he could not remember the last time a request like this was proposed. Should a proposal be drafted, it must come before the Committee of the Whole meeting in the beginning of July or August. If a consensus is reached, property owner input would be essential to its approval.

'Property owner input is very important because financial records, drivers licenses, insurance documents have to change,' said Weber.

Weber declined additional comment on the name change without a formal proposal.

There are between 90 and 100 residents who live on South New Berlin Road, Schwartz acknowledged. 'It's a process, but I think it's going to be worth it,' he said.

Here is a brief time-line of the Veterans Memorial:

· February 2010: Veterans Memorial committee formed.

· September 11, 2011: Groundbreaking ceremony in between library and Hales Corners pool for proposed memorial.

· May 27, 2012: More than 1,000 attend dedication of Veterans Memorial in Hales Corners. A rock dedicated to World War II servicemen on Arbor Day 1946 was also moved to the new memorial.