Friday, May 24, 2024

We write from our home since 2007 in a neighborhood that has been dubbed “Agassiz” for many years. We are heartily in favor of changing the name to the Baldwin Neighborhood.

We have attended all the deliberations of the Agassiz Neighborhood Council since Maya Counter introduced the proposal to change the name in January 2020. We have also been involved in efforts to gain the sense of the neighborhood … and to publicize the issue widely. We are also aware of the current efforts by some to either subvert the process, or at least slow it down (“Agassiz resident wants more renaming options appearing on a ranked-choice November ballot,” July 20).

Suffice to say that:

  • We sense and witness widespread consensus both that the name be changed and that it be changed to Baldwin.
  • We believe the notion of delaying to conduct a formal “election” using ranked-choice methodology is ridiculous. As part of information gathering, a survey was distributed. One of us happens to design and conduct a lot of surveys as part of our work in health services research. Rather than detail the pluses and minuses of the survey that was fielded (there were both), suffice to say that the leader after the first round of a ranked-choice election almost invariably ends up as the victor (as pointed out carefully by The New York Times as it analyzed the process of the recent New York mayoral primary). The Baldwin name, including variations thereof, came in way ahead. And furthermore, our understanding is that the voluminous number of alternative names suggested in the survey was the work of one individual who was against the name change – hardly an expression of widespread disapproval!

In sum, the survey results, albeit with a limited response rate as is characteristic of survey and elections these days, added some weight to a comprehensive, inclusive and broadly based process that ended in clear consensus. Such a survey should not be misclassified as a flawed “election.” 

  • The argument for a name change in this day and age far outweighs the argument of those who would avoid it. Over time names change, and often for good reason. This will prove to be a fine example of such evolution.

We urge you to change the name. No need to delay. After more than 18 months of careful and inclusive deliberation within our neighborhood, we need to move on and adopt a name in which we can take collective pride.

Tom and Jill Delbanco, Hammond Street