A new name now appears likely for Columbia's Coon Hunt Court. The county government has agreed to take on the name change internally, waiving all fees that would have been charged had it been proposed by residents, according to County Council member Calvin Ball, who has led a petition effort to replace the name.
That also means Ball would not need residents' support, though he said he is seeking their support nonetheless. So far, he has collected five of the six signatures (in other words, the support of all six households on the street) that would have been needed.
For decades, some have complained that Coon Hunt Court, located in the Oakland Mills village of Thunder Hill, is a name with an offensive connotation. The word "coon" has been used as a derogatory term for "black person" since 1837, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.
Ball, a Columbia Democrat who also lives in Oakland Mills, collected signatures from three households in early February and two more later in the month. Since renaming a street name in Howard County requires approval from 90 percent of the households on the street, and since Coon Hunt Court has only six homes, unanimous support would have been needed without the county's decision to support the change.
Street names in Thunder Hill come from the titles of paintings by Andrew Wyeth. The artist had a piece called "Raccoon," which led to the nearby "Raccoon Court." There was no "Coon Hunt," though. Rather, there was a piece entitled "The Coot Hunter," named for a type of bird found in Maine.
Several alternative street names have been proposed, all based on Wyeth paintings: "Christina's Court," "Bells on Her Toes Drive," "Sunday Times Circle," "Carry Court," "Leaving Lane," "Night Sleeper Court" and "Wolf Moon Way."