EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

June 23, 2014

Pelham street names up for debate

Pelham officials want to reduce confusion over addresses

PELHAM — Residents who live on one of a dozen streets may need to make some changes soon — to return address labels, checks, driver’s licenses and more.

Two upcoming public hearings will help selectmen decide the fate of 12 street names as a part of an effort to end confusion over addresses.

“Pelham, like other communities, has suffered in the past from unfortunate road-naming choices and numeric assignments,” planning director Jeff Gowan said. “We can’t have multiple roads with the same name or roads have names that sound alike. That will cause some confusion.”

That confusion includes that among emergency dispatchers and responders, who have gotten confused in the past over similar streets, according to police Lt. Gary Fisher.

“Thank God, it hasn’t been a life-threatening situation, but it does slow down response time,” Fisher said. “It makes it a lot easier for us to respond to calls, it makes it so that there’s not controversy about going to the wrong street.”

This change arose from concerns from the Bureau of Emergency Communications, which links residents and public safety authorities through services like 911, and the Pelham Highway Safety Committee, which has looked at and helped change town street names in the past.

Timothy Scott, the database operations manager for the bureau, said he started working with Pelham almost a decade ago. The town is in the third phase of fixing street names, he said.

The bureau collects addresses in each community and makes sure street names and house numbers match national standards.

They then give each town a list of streets with concerns, including street names that still sound like or are too similar to other names — like Lawrence Corner Road and Old Lawrence Road — that could confuse emergency dispatchers and responders.

“If they feel they agree with it they can go ahead and make those changes,” Scott said. “The town is doing this voluntarily.”

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