Bow street name changes raise E-911 concerns
BOW — Residents and business owners are speaking out against planned address changes that are being made to assist the E-911 system.
A town committee recommended some changes be made after a state survey noted some concerns. The first group of changes to street names and numbering that pose problems with the E-911 system began last summer. The majority of changes are triggered when building permits are pulled on streets with potential issues.
Jill Hadaway, chairman of the board of selectmen, said once the problem is acknowledged, the town becomes liable if something problematic happens in the midst of a 911 call, such as if emergency personnel are confused where to go.
“It’s a decision by the board to protect the town of Bow from lawsuits,” Hadaway said.
Selectman Jack Crisp said there was no question that a problem existed and it was their responsibility to acknowledge it. Out of order, duplicate numbers, and having no way to create new addresses without using letters creates problems for the 911 system, Crisp said. The state standard uses letters to indicate units within an address only. The town is using the state standard of renumbering parcels in 50-foot increments.
“In 911’s view the only way you can eliminate future numbering problems is to go to this 50-foot rule,” Crisp said.
Residents and business owners came to the selectmen’s meeting June 25 to speak against the third round of changes, which include renaming Johnson Road to River Road and renumbering the entire roadway. Stone Sled Lane, Clement Road, Sterling Place, and Peaslee Road are also set to be renumbered.
Town Manager David Stack said Johnson Road is a good example of why the change is needed, because there’s no obvious point where River Road ends and Johnson Road begins. Johnson Road could also be confused with the like-sounding Jonathan Road in an emergency, Stack said.
Andy Young, a business owner on River Road, said he could understand the need to change confusing street names, but the 50-foot increment now required will create extra street numbers that will never be used. River Road will end with four digit addresses when they’re done, he said. He also asked if the board had considered the cost of changing business signs, sales materials and websites.
“This is a cost proposition,” Young said. “This is a hardship to any business down there.”
Robert Pike, representing the Peaslee Hill Development, said renumbering is not necessary there, because the development planned for the maximum number of houses, all the lots are deeded and the one-acre lots cannot be subdivided.
“We’re a very compelling argument in terms of it’s not going to change,” Pike said.
Mark Connelly, of Stone Sled Lane said the street was set out in a logical fashion and there could be no confusion with the current numbering system.
“I would suggest you don’t mess with something that’s already working,” Connelly said.
After some discussion, the board approved the changes which will take effect Sept. 16.
The town manager acknowledged that reaction to the changes has been mixed, but noted that aside from the inconvenience, people realize there is a problem that must be resolved.