Mom crusades to name Reading's Cotton Street after fallen daughter, 3

Mom's crusade to name street after fallen daughter, 3

READING, Pa. - A grieving mother is on a mission.

She wants to rename Cotton Street after her 3-year-old daughter, Ja-Lexy, who was killed in June by a hit-and-run driver near 10th and Cotton streets in Reading.

"It ripped a part of my life, a part of my heart that will never be healed again," said Gabriella Roman, Ja-Lexy's mother.

For weeks, Roman has been gathering signatures from property owners on Cotton Street who would support renaming the street to Ja-Lexy Drive.

Roman says the street renaming has a purpose.

"Because her [Ja-Lexy's] legacy will live on forever," Roman said. "To tell everybody to drive carefully and be careful. Make sure they don't hurt somebody else, hurt another child."

City officials say renaming Cotton Street would mean major changes for EMS workers, police, fire, and postal workers. It would also require a major commitment from residents.

"Their driver's license would change. Their owners card would need to change. Their insurance would need to change. Their property insurance would need to change," said Linda Kelleher, city clerk. "All their credit cards. That would all have to change."

Some residents had mixed opinions on changing the name of Cotton Street.

"It's very inconvenient," said one neighbor who did not want to reveal her identity. "I'm handicapped. Lot of these are old people along here. They don't have the means to be changing everything. I think it's unfair."

"I think that would be a good idea," said Monique Sanchez. "This street needs to be changed anyway."

"About the street name, yes, it's fair," said Iran Sanchez. "But for me to change my bank statement and my identification and all that, no, no. That's a little problem there."

If Roman were to be given the green light to change Cotton Street to Ja-Lexy Drive, she would have to pay for the streets signs and installation, which could run about $80 per street sign, city officials said.

According to the city's street-naming policy, applicants must demonstrate what substantial and/or long-term contribution the candidate has made to the life and spirit of the neighborhood community of Reading.

"It's not something that we take lightly," said Kelleher. "They're [the streets] are named after, you know, certain individuals that back in the 1700s or 1800s played a significant role in developing what Reading is today."

Even though Ja-Lexy was only three when she lost her life, her mother says Ja-Lexy's death has touched many in the community, and will not give up her fight.

"With the community and the street of Cotton I can do this for my baby girl," said Roman.

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