BARSTOW • While many of the streets in Barstow are named after residents who have passed away, there are only a few named after those who are still living.
On Monday evening, former Barstow Mayor Mal Wessel was added to the list of living Barstow residents with that honor when the Barstow Planning Commission unanimously approved changing the name of Sandstone Court to Mal Wessel Court.
"I prefer to honor a person when they're still alive instead of when they die," said Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez on Tuesday. "It's more of a tribute to them."
Along with serving as a Barstow council member from 1986 to 1991 and as its mayor from 1991 to 1996, Wessel also influenced the community through his many years of work with Toys for Tots, Hi Desert Charities, and the Barstow Rodeo Committee.
Gomez has been trying since the beginning of 2011 to have a city park or street named after Wessel, but many of the parks are already named after people. Changing a street's name can be problematic for businesses or residents because property titles and everything associated with their current addresses has to be changed.
The street that will be named after Wessel is off West Main Street, next to the compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas fueling station owned by the City of Barstow, as well as an unmanned telecommunications facility, which means that a minimal amount of businesses and no residences will be affected by the name change.
The City Council recommended that the Planning Commission approve the name change at its meeting Nov. 7. On Monday, planning commissioners passed the new street name without discussion.
"I'm real grateful that they saw it fitting to name the street after him," said Gomez.
Gomez said the city plans to look at naming other streets in honor of residents at a later date and that a ceremony unveiling the new street name is still in the planning stages.
Wessel could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
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Planning commission recap
The Planning Commission also discussed the following item at its meeting on Monday:
• Drive-through ATM approved — The Planning Commission unanimously approved a new Wells Fargo drive-up ATM. The ATM will be located near the 99 Cent Store and will replace the Wells Fargo ATM inside Vons.
Commissioner Carmen Hernandez had concerns about safety, but city staff had not received any opposition from law enforcement. The ATM will have cameras and additional lighting installed.