CEDAR CITY — Cedar City’s 2175 West will now also be known as Happy Factory Lane.
Donna Cooley and Neal Smith asked the Cedar City Council if “Happy Factory Lane” could be added to the street sign or if a second sign featuring the new name could be installed, according to information in the council packet. The proposal received a positive recommendation from the city’s planning commission.
Happy Factory was founded in 1995 in a small Cedar City workshop after Charles and Donna Cooley “became aware that many children have never had a toy,” according to its website. Since then, they’ve shipped toys worldwide and donated them to Primary Children’s Medical Center, Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center and others.
Their motto is, “We may not be able to make a toy for every child in the world that needs one — but we’re going to try!”
Happy Factory’s Neal Smith said the nonprofit has shipped nearly 2 million toys. Of the sign change, he said: “To us, it would be a good thing. I think Donna would smile.”
Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams didn’t report any issues with the change, City Engineer Jonathan Stathis said, adding that his only concern would be that the initial proposal would require a variance to the city’s engineering standards — the design featured the nonprofit’s full logo.
Another concern, first voiced by Councilmember R. Scott Phillips, was that the city had previously denied a similar request from Red Peaks Gym, as the change could create confusion and set a precedent for future requests.
“We have to be careful how we handle this,” Phillips said.
Cedar City citizen Matt Pellegrini said that while he loves the nonprofit, he hopes that “everyone’s treated the same in Cedar City” and quoted the council’s previous comments.
For instance, Councilmember Terri Hartley previously said that previous street name changes had been institutional and named for entities like Southern Utah University or Canyon View High School — a comment she said she stands by.
“I would love for ‘Happy Factory Lane’ to be the name of the street, as well as I think that Red Peak Way should be the name of that street,” Pellegrini said.
Robert Cox said there’s a difference between advertising a for-profit business and honoring a nonprofit, as “no one’s gaining anything.” Additionally, the street in question is a short cul-de-sac, rather than a main thoroughfare, and the nearby businesses agreed to the change. Cox is on the Happy Factory board but wasn’t asked to represent them. He also recently won his election for Cedar City Council.
Planning Commission member Tom Jett told the council he hoped they would support the proposal.
“What an incredible organization,” he said. “Donna and Charlie Cooley are rock stars in this community, and when they’re all completely gone, their name will be lived on, and Happy Factory will be going for many years to come.”
The Cedar City Council approved the change at the Nov. 29 City Council meeting, approving a single sign. Cedar City Attorney Randall McUne told Cedar City News that the sign would feature 2175 West at the top, with “Happy Factory Lane” underneath in smaller font.
A Happy Factory smiling gear will be included next to the street names, similar to the design for Freedom Boulevard’s sign, which features an American flag.
One of the primary reasons for this approval is that “Happy Factory is a not-for-profit internationally renowned for its remarkable charitable work,” he said.
Councilmember Craig Isom echoed these sentiments during the meeting.
“(The proposal was approved) because of the international notoriety of Happy Factory and all of the good that it has done,” he said. “And because of the minimal impact it has because of the size of that street.”
Councilmember Tyler Melling said, having lived next door to Donna Cooley previously, he fears “for the eternal soul of anyone who says ‘no’ to Donna.”
“She’s an angel on Earth,” he added.
Cedar City News reporter Jeff Richards also contributed to this story.
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