Elkins Council OKs changes to street name, several addresses

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson North Washington Avenue resident Carol Reams speaks against a measure to change the name of her street during this week’s Elkins City Council meeting.

ELKINS — Elkins City Council has voted to change the addresses of residences on North Washington Avenue to distinguish them from Washington Avenue addresses, despite the protests of a resident attending the meeting.

North Washington Avenue resident Carol Reams spoke during the public comment section of Tuesday’s meeting to ask council to vote against changing the addresses.

“I’m a resident of North Washington Avenue, where you want to change our address,” Reams said. “I’m really concerned about this. It’s going to be such a big hassle. The residents of North Washington Avenue are against this.

“Where is this complaint coming from?” she asked. “Is it someone on North Washington or Washington Avenue? If it’s because of two numbers being the same, change that number on the one who’s complaining.

“This will be such a hassle. There are senior citizens on our street. They are going to have to change social security, license, banking, credit cards, etc.,” Reams said.

“Our street name was changed before and it was a horrible hassle. Please take this into consideration.”

Later in the meeting council took up the issue of voting on whether to change the name of North Washington Avenue and to change several other addresses. Letters were sent to residents in those areas alerting them that addressing changes were being considered.

“City Council passed a resolution back in 2008 to not go along with the 911 mapping,” First Ward Council member Judy Guye said. “They said it was going to cost the residents of Elkins too much money… North Washington has been there for a number of years. It’s well-marked … those people have been there a long time and I don’t see a problem in emergency services knowing where North Washington is.

“I haven’t heard before of anyone having any problem finding anything on this street except for one individual with his mail. I would think that you could go to the post office and talk to the carrier on that street and make sure they know where that residence is, rather than changing everybody else’s, up and down (the street) for one person,” Guye said.

“I don’t want to put (Elkins Fire) Chief (Tom) Meader on the spot, but he has mentioned to me a couple incidents,” City Clerk Jessica Sutton said. “I mean, they found them, obviously, and I don’t know if it was a miscommunication of the resident calling the 911 center or the 911 center relaying that to emergency services, but there has been confusion on that street in the past, on both North Washington and Washington.”

Guye asked Meader to give his opinion on the matter.

“There’s a lot of streets that it’s tough for us to find,” Meader said. “We’ve had a few incidences … one was a car fire, which was very confusing to us, because we were sent to the wrong address, but we saw all the smoke so that helped us …

“The numbering system and the way it’s designed now is poor,” Meader said. “I was always in favor of the 911 mapping and addressing, and it’s all about the protection of the public.”

Council voted 8-1 to make the changes, with Guye casting the only vote against the measure. Second Ward Councilman Charlie Friddle was out of town and unable to attend the meeting.

The residences from 100 North Washington Ave. to 105 North Washington Ave. will be readdressed, with the street name changed to Adams Street.

On Washington Avenue, several residences will be readdressed, but still designated as Washington Avenue addresses. Two homes on West Davis Avenue will be readdressed and designated as Washington Avenue residences.

One home on Washington Avenue will be readdressed and designated as a Madison Avenue residence.

• This week’s Elkins City Council meeting was held on Tuesday in order for council to lay the levy for the coming fiscal year.

The town’s levy rates for property tax valuation are unchanged from last year. For Class 1 property, the rate is 12.5 cents per $100. For Class II real estate and personal property, the rate is 25 cents per $100. For Class IV real estate and personal property, the rate is 50 cents per $100.

The 12.5 cents per $100 property tax valuation is the highest rate that cities in the state can impose without an election, according to the city of Elkins website. Levies imposed via election, above the 12.5 cents rate, are referred to as “excess levies”; there is currently no excess levy in Elkins.

The next Elkins City Council meeting will be 7 p.m. on May 2 at City Hall.