Residents Rage Over Road Names


Jim and June Swann are fighting mad, and so are a lot of their neighbors.

The residents of Diamond Point, east of Star Valley, are upset because Gila County wants to arbitrarily change the names of many of the streets in their community to names they say don't make any sense -- and because the county isn't giving them enough time to fight the changes.

If the county has its way, Mountain View Road where the Swanns live will become Norfolk Ave., and new names have been proposed for more than 40 other streets throughout northern Gila County.

"We're not finding it very funny out here," June Swann said.

Chuck Heron, a neighbor of the Swanns who has researched the problem, agrees.

"Nobody can tell me where those street names came from, but they don't even have a geographic basis," Heron said. "Norfolk, last I heard, was in Virginia."

What especially angers residents of Diamond Point and seven other northern Gila County communities in the same quandary is that the county didn't bother to notify them of its intentions. Local residents only found out about the proposed changes in a legal announcement buried in the classified section of the Payson Roundup.

The announcement, which began running last week, tells those concerned that a public hearing on the subject will be held Oct. 21 in Globe and that alternate petitions or objections to the proposed street name changes must be submitted to the county by Oct. 3. Diamond Point residents say that is typical government bureaucracy and totally unacceptable.

"It's pretty much standard procedure in government today to force it back on the people, knowing full well that to establish a consensus on anything is pretty much an impossible task," Heron said. "So they can say we told them and they didn't do it."

The move to change street names is part of the nationwide effort to enhance the 911 emergency system, according to Heron.

"Local phone companies, Qwest in our case, were given the charter of coming up with a database," he explained. "They decided what they wanted was what's called the postal standard database. That's a house number, a street number or a road identifier.

"Under the ideal, there would never be within any zip code a duplicate name. There wouldn't be a Mountain Drive, Mountain Avenue and Mountain Way. The word "Mountain" would be used just one time in a zip code."

While most agree that achieving this ideal is impossible, according to Heron, some overzealous bureaucrats in Globe decided to go for it.

"People were told, ‘We don't care what you want to do. The county is going to change your road name,'" Heron said.

Changing Mountain View to Norfolk was mild compared to some of the other proposed changes in northern Gila County, according to June Swann.

"You know where Hunter Creek is up on Colcord Road?" she asked. "Instead of living on Elk Run Lane or Bonita Creek Road, how would you suddenly like to be living on Bombay Boulevard or Balinese Circle or Macaw Drive?

"Look at the names like White's Way," she said. "Bob White and Phil White from Phil White Ford built over here and they put in their own road. Now it's going to be Lakeland Drive. There isn't a lake within 10 miles."

Besides Diamond Point, street name changes are being proposed for the communities of Oxbow Estates, Ponderosa Springs Estates, Ellison Creek Estates, Hunter Creek Ranch, Christopher Creek Haven, Colcord Mountain Homesites and Bonita Creek Estates.

Losing street names that have historical or geographic significance is bad enough, but Swann also emphasizes the expense involved.

"They're stupid names and it boggles the mind how much this is going to cost," she said. "Every map will have to be changed, every street sign, our legal deeds, our drivers licenses. It just goes on and on."

What especially frustrates Heron is that other counties have managed to enhance their 911 systems without the radical street name changes proposed by Globe.

"In Phoenix right now they have, for example, a 2601 N. 27th Avenue. One block away they have a 2601 N. 27th Drive. And a block from there they have a 2601 N. 27th Lane. "It's not a problem for them," Heron said. "They already have a fully enhanced 911 system in Maricopa County."

Heron has found a sympathetic ear in District One Supervisor Ron Christensen.

"There is a lot of heavy-handedness over in Globe and Ron knows that," Heron said. "He is trying to get to the bottom of it, and I think it's going to get cured."

Christensen, who announced Wednesday that the Oct. 21 meeting will be moved to Payson and that the petition forms are now available in his office, explained his position.

"I've asked for a complete review of our ordinances pertaining to this to try to make implementing the 911 enhanced system as benign as possible," Christensen said. "I think there's a solution to the concerns most people have out there; I think there are less invasive ways of dealing with it than what's being kicked around now."

Christensen chose the word "bizarre" to describe the directive from Globe.

"There are people making those suggestions that don't even live in the area, and it's kind of like when Washington does it to us. We get that same thing from them."

June Swann is even less charitable.

"Talking to Globe is like talking to a rock, and they're going to have a dirty fight on their hands."

County rural addressing analyst Larry Dorame, the official whose name appeared in the legal notice, did not return phone calls. A voice message at his extension said the office is temporarily closed because it is being moved.

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