by Geoff Fox
Last August, officials from the Washington County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) announced they’d be conducting a study on Hancock area addresses as they transitioned to a new 911 system.
The purpose of the address review is to avoid duplication of street names throughout Washington County and streets numbered sequentially.
Last Wednesday, Mayor Ralph Salvagno announced the survey had been completed and there are a number of streets and addresses that were deemed in need of change.
The list included streets that have to be renamed to avoid confusion, and those recommended for change.
Two streets were recommended for naming in Hancock – Main Street and Center Street.
Seven others will see a change of name or new address numbers. One of those is High Street, where Town Hall is located.
According to a chart obtained by The Hancock News, these change are being required by the county:
–Fleming Drive will be renamed due to a duplicate address of Fleming Court and all houses to be renumbered
— Grove Circle will be renamed and renumbered due to duplicate addresses in Washington County with Grove;
–High Germany Street, High Street, the northern side of Maryland Avenue, and the southern section of Virginia Avenue will be renamed or renumbered
— Park Road will be changed in the county’s database. It was already renamed Hancock Veterans Parkway in 2018.
During the January 15 town meeting, Salvagno said he didn’t want to be the one to bring the topic up, but he was willing to take the hit.
“Unlike their presentation before, it impacts a significantly greater number of people than we were initially lead to believe,” Salvagno said.
He said the county wanted all changes made before the end of January.
“That ain’t gonna happen,” the mayor said.
Salvagno noted the citizens should have a voice in the situation.
Maryland Avenue and Virginia Avenue were split when the interstate came through. The suggestion would be for the section of those streets with the least amount of residence to be renamed.
Salvagno said the town would not be renaming Main Street.
Councilman Tim Boyer said the renumbering part of the survey “obviously makes sense if stuff’s way out of whack.” He didn’t see the necessity of changing street names.
Last Friday Salvagno said the town received the list of the street issues in Hancock.
The list was longer than changes originally presented to town officials, he said.
Some of the issues are specific things that are the town’s problem and not up to date.
One is a reference to Potomac View Road, which Salvagno said is not a road. Another would be Park Road, which had already been changed.
Salvagno said the town in Washington County that keeps the “High Street” name would be the one with more residents. Another way to determine what town keeps it would be to find out historically which town had the street name first.
In Hancock, the first mention of the street with that name is sometime in the early 1900s. Prior to that, it had been named Back Street.
While some of the changes make sense to Salvagno, there are those that don’t and he believes it’s not the purview of the town council to uniformly say “here’s the way it is.”
“We’ve tried to accommodate everybody,” Salvagno said.
He referenced a gentleman who spoke at the town meeting during citizens’ comments addressing the fact that he hadn’t been notified of the town changing Taney Street to Taney Alley.
Salvagno added he knows people will have strong feelings about the proposed changes and he’s one of those people.
His house has an address on Grand Street, but the county proposes changing his address to a Baptist Street address.
The house was built on Lots # 1 through 9 on Grand Street.
“It’s what it’s always been,” he said. His driveway isn’t even a driveway, just an offshoot of Cemetery Road.
Salvagno said the town would need to hear from those people who are affected before the town says they’ll be the “heavy hand” in the process.
There have been discussions about holding a public meeting to discuss the changes and where the county can explain their rationale.
Salvagno said a letter would also be sent out to everyone affected by the proposed changes as well.
“It’s one thing to put things on a website. It’s one thing to put things in a newspaper. But not everybody uses those means of communication,” he said.
He added the town owes it to the people to contact people by a letter in their mailbox to alert them the changes are coming and invite them to participate in the meeting.
Should the town have to change street names, Salvagno said residence of the street would have a say in renaming the street.
Residents would first propose names and then vote amongst themselves on the final name.
Salvagno reiterated the Town of Hancock is not driving the change of street names and numbers, but the county. He also added if there were emergency response issues, it would also be great to hear from first responders as well to address the real issues.
“I understand that there’s a need for uniformity,” he said. “Uniformity works great if you’re building a new town, but in a town with history and convention, it’s a difficult thing.”
The Washington County Geographic Information Systems, had not responded to a request for further information by press time.