KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Kyle is pausing it’s decision to change the name of Rebel Drive to something the mayor hopes is more emblematic of the city: Fajita Drive.
This move comes as the Hays Consolidated Independent School District decided to get rid of the Hays High School Rebel mascot because of its ties to the Confederacy.
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell brought up the resolution for changing the stretch of West Ranch Road 150 between Center Street and North Old Stagecoach Road/Farm to Market Road 2270.
“The desire would be to keep it noncontroversial and allow for us to recenter that name away from a word that is associated with really a part of American past, and Texas history that certainly we have collectively decided as a society is not the best image or word or culture to celebrate,” Mitchell said.
But after backlash, Mitchell sent this statement to KXAN News on Thursday:
The intention of the council was good, and I applaud the council for their heartfelt remarks in support of Fajita Drive at Tuesday’s meeting. That said, the community has expressed more discomfort with the naming than we anticipated. As such, we will hold a public hearing on the item at the next council meeting and will decide what to do from there.Travis Mitchell, Kyle mayor
But hundreds of people aren’t happy with the name change or the process by which city council members made the move.
“I think that it was passed via an agenda that was worded where I don’t think the community really saw that the street name would be the choice made. I think if there was more visibility, and if it was more transparent I think a lot of our citizens of Kyle would have given their opinion and really told the city council that we don’t like this name,” Abigail Silva tells KXAN News.
Silva started the petition.
During the city council meeting, Mitchell opened up the agenda item to public comment for a few seconds.
“This item is not registered to have a public hearing but it does need to have one in order to get it passed, so attorney has advised we can just opened up a public hearing and ask if anyone wishes to speak,” Mitchell said during the meeting.
Mitchell opened the public hearing around 8:46 p.m. and closed it at 8:47 p.m., according to a recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website.
“This does not honor our culture or community. As a Kyle citizen and Hispanic woman, I do not take my pride in my community and culture solely through enchiladas, tacos, and especially, fajitas,” she writes. “To a name street after a piece of meat, in hopes of honoring its diversity, in fact, ignores many wonderful aspects, history, leaders, and culture of our community.”
Silva says she understands the intention– to honor Juan Antonio ‘Sonny’ Falcón, known as “The Fajita King.”
His family says Falcón first sold fajitas at a festival in Kyle in 1969.
“He believed in what the product did in bringing people together and it brought people together from a lot of different socio-economic backgrounds, political backgrounds… And so, certainly I would hope that the citizens or Kyle would see that,” says Robert Falcón, one of Falcón’s three sons.
Mitchell said other names were considered, including James Adkins, Kyle’s first Black mayor, but Adkins already had an entrance street named after him. Instead, he proposed honoring Juan Antonio “Sonny” Falcón, who the city says sold the first fajita in September 1969. Falcón died last year at age 81, and a release from the city at the time said his son planned to serve fajitas before his father’s internment at the Texas State Cemetery.
Mitchell called him a “true hero of Kyle.”
“The question is, do you name it something like Sonny Falcón Drive, which is a name which most people don’t necessarily understand, or do you try to keep it with the spirit of Rebel Drive, which is a short, widely understood word, and go with something like Fajita Drive,” Mitchell said.
Silva says in order to properly honor the local figure, the road should bear his name.
“Five or 10 years down the road. I think that story is going to get lost and people are just going to be wondering why do we have a street named Fajita.”
Public Works will replace street signs at 14 intersections. There are also 14 commercial properties and 10 homes affected, as well as some P.O. boxes. All those people will receive a letter about next steps, including how to process an address change request with the post office.
Although the ordinance officially passed on Tuesday, Mitchell says they can reconsider the decision.