street name-heaton

Angie Heaton

URBANA — More than two decades after Champaign launched an honorary street name program, Urbana is being asked to do the same.

The city council will hear a proposal Monday from Aimee Rickman of Urbana to adopt an honorary street name program, and to name the city’s first honorary street after local singer-songwriter Angie Heaton, who died in 2020.

Rickman said she’ll be bringing to the council a petition with about 100 signatures asking the council to designate a street honoring Ms. Heaton.

“She embodied the spirit of Urbana,” Rickman said. “She was community-minded, welcoming, immensely talented in so many ways. She was wise, full of character. She was brilliant but immensely humble and down to earth. She was open and full of joy, but also very honest and earnest.”

Urbana council member Chris Evans said Rickman approached him about dedicating a street or alley to Ms. Heaton, and, “to our surprise, we found out Urbana had no honorary street name program.”

He plans to support a program for Urbana, he said.

“I think it’s a good idea to preserve and celebrate the history and great people who have lived and worked in Urbana,” Evans said.

Rickman said the city has had many luminaries who could be honored with street names in addition to Ms. Heaton.

“So many people have contributed to Urbana’s warmth and beauty,” she said.

Having those names on street signs can help the community remember those contributors, Rickman said.

“We lose that history if we don’t celebrate it,” she said.

Rickman said Ms. Heaton, who played in several local bands in Champaign-Urbana and whose music was known well outside the local community, was “part of that Urbana beauty, that Urbana quirkiness.”

“There’s talent. There’s generosity. That is Urbana. She saw that as what Urbana is,” Rickman said.

She said she knew Ms. Heaton first through her music, and then through a former program she (Rickman) co-founded called GirlZone.

Ms. Heaton was a GirlZone volunteer, teaching girls to play the drums, and generously volunteered her time for GirlZone workshops for girls, Rickman said.

“Angie was so welcoming, so encouraging,” she said.

Ms. Heaton was also an open and proud member of the LGBTQ community at a time that was stigmatizing, and “she led with love,” Rickman said.

If the council approves an honorary street name program, Rickman said she’d leave it to city officials to decide on the appropriate street to designate for Ms. Heaton.

But one suggestion would be the alley behind Rose Bowl Tavern in downtown Urbana, she said.

Rose Bowl Tavern hosted a tribune show for Ms. Heaton on June 5 that was organized by Rickman.

Champaign’s honorary street name program, which began in 2000, recognizes people, organizations, entities and events that have had “a significant lineage to the city or had a significant cultural, historical or humanitarian impact on the city,” according to a city website on the program.

Champaign leaves honorary street designations in place for 10 years per honoree, and prefers to have the location of the honorary street designation to have a geographical relationship to the honoree.

Since launching honorary street names, Champaign has designated nearly five dozen of them — some now retired, some still active. The cost for the signs per honoree is $1,000 per block.

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