EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 23, 2013

Atkinson residents oppose renumbering

Opponents cite expense of renumbering proposal

By Alex Lippa

---- — ATKINSON — For 20 years, Michael Suriani has lived at 28 Coventry Road — and he wants it to stay that way.

Suriani isn’t moving away, but he is preparing for his address to change.

He and several other residents of Coventry Road voiced their opinions at a public hearing Monday regarding the change.

“It’s a big financial risk for us as far as being able to notify people properly,” Suriani said. “We have loans and deeds that will take some expensive legal work just to change the address.”

Selectmen have proposed changing 10 addresses on Coventry and Washington Roads to assure quicker emergency safety response. The home at 20A Coventry Road would become 22 Coventry Road, and would trigger changes at eight other homes on the street.

“An alphanumeric number can’t be in an all-numeric string, according the New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Communications,” Selectman William Baldwin said. “We want to do what is in the best interest in keeping everyone safe.”

The move to change the addresses came after two incidents at Peter Gulezian’s home, when emergency personnel responded to the wrong home.

Gulezian lives at 2 Washington Road, but shares a driveway with homes at 2A and 2B Washington Road. Under the proposal, those neighbors’ homes would become part of a new street, Martha’s Way.

But many affected homeowners are hoping to prevent the change.

“It’s such a huge cost involved to renumber all of us,” said Valerie Tobin of 32 Coventry Road. “We’re looking at new mortgages, deeds, passports, car registrations. It’s like we’re moving, but we’re not moving.”

Tobin said instead of renumbering houses, she would like to see a new townwide ordinance.

“Everyone should have something on the street that clearly identifies their number,” Tobin said. “If it’s either a post or a mailbox, that would prevent these safety issues from happening.”

But Gulezian said he didn’t think that would solve the issue.

“They just don’t want to deal with the burden of having to change their address,” he said. “That doesn’t work when responders aren’t coming in broad daylight and they can’t see the house.”

Acting police Chief Patrick Caggiano said he understood residents’ concerns, but stressed that safety was most important.

“I understand the argument on both sides of the issue,” he said. “But this is about the potential for there to be a safety concern. Anytime you can minimize that potential, then there may be some benefits.”

Baldwin said these two streets are only the beginning of what officials would like to see renumbered.

“We aren’t just cherry picking these two streets,” he said. “We want to address all the issues and are doing it in stages. We will do our due diligence before making any final decisions.”

Baldwin said no decision on Washington and Coventry streets were made at the public hearing Monday night. Selectmen will have a discussion in the next few weeks, before making a final decision.