TOMPKINSVILLE — Streets with either the same name or similar names in Tompkinsville have proven to be an issue for emergency personnel.
The problem was discussed at the Tompkinsville City Commission meeting on Nov. 21.
The city commission initially talked about changing the names of Maxey Drive, East Short Street and West Short Street.
It was pointed out during the meeting that West Short Street connects Richards Drive with Dot Drive and that East Short Street connects Ky. 163 with Monroe Drive.
“Of course they are on opposite ends of town and also the addressing, everything on East Short Street has a West Short Street address and vice versa on West Short Street,” said Garrett Graves, code enforcement officer. “We had a complication the other day with 911. I wanted to get the commission to approve changing East Short Street to Tooley Street and West Short Street to Opal Street to deal with any kind of confusion.”
Graves told city commissioners he had spoken to Phyllis Reagan, Monroe County 911 director, about the need to change the names of the streets.
Reagan was present for the meeting and said there had been an incident recently were emergency medical personnel could not find an address because of the street addresses.
“We had three ambulances searching. We did go to an address over here on what was supposed to be West (Short Street) and that individual told us: 'We get people here looking for stuff all the time.' They (the streets) don't even connect,” she said. “They are on opposite ends and it is very confusing to first-responders, EMS, anybody going out there. We do not want anybody's life put in jeopardy. This should have been 3 minutes to get there. It turned into 20. That doesn't need to happen.”
The numerical addresses can be left the same with only the names of the streets being changed, except there will be a few numerical addresses in the Harlan Heights neighborhood that will have to change, she said.
City Attorney Richardson Jackson explained that the addresses will have to be changed according to an ordinance that will have to be approved by the city commission. After the city commission approves the ordinance on two readings, it will then have to be sent to the Kentucky Secretary of State and then 911 will have to accept it, he said.
“I think it will be helpful if I can work with you to get those numbers, how they are going to be for the existing homes so we can put that out,” Jackson said, adding that way when the ordinance is published residents will know what to expect.
Reagan told Jackson it is a matter that needs to be taken care of quickly. She also said she needs to do a drive-thru to make sure every house has a numerical address visible from the street.
“You would be surprised at how many don't,” she said.
Reagan also told Jackson that she hopes to have the information to him the week after Thanksgiving.
Jackson questioned whether the numerical addresses would be based on distance and said he recalled that occurring when the switch was made to go with the standardization of addresses.
He asked Reagan if it would be better to make the house numbers uniform.
Reagan then explained that the city was never readdressed.
“Back years ago when they readdressed the county, the city was excluded,” she said. “The only changes that I have made to the city is residences using the same number.”
In some instances, three residences had the same numerical address, and Reagan said she has changed those addresses.
“Anybody who had a half, we did away with the halves and I fixed those,” she said. “Anybody who has moved in and come up there and verified an address I would correct it, but the rest of the city, no. All of those addresses were never changed.”
She continued that the addresses need to be done by GPS and that they need to be based off the GPS numbering.
“Would it be better to redo it all? Yes, it would — the whole Street,” Reagan said. “Fortunately, on both of those streets there's not too many houses and it wouldn't take very long whatsoever to assign those.”
Reagan told Jackson that she would need to get the paperwork to the U.S. Postal Service soon regarding the address changes so that people can get their mail quicker.
There was also discussion about streets with the same name or close to the same name.
Mayor Scotty Turner brought up Fifth Street and said there are two that don't even connect.
“I feel like when there are two streets with the same name or close to the same name, if they don't join, especially like East and West or North and South, they need to be changed,” Reagan said.
Turner thought one street could continue to be known as Fifth Street, but that at the other one should be renamed.
It was also mentioned during the meeting that there are three streets with the name Sunset, and that someone though there was a Sunset Drive, a Sunset Avenue and a Sunset Boulevard.
“We just don't want any delays on these (emergency) runs,” Reagan said.
Turner said the city will work with 911 to adjust the addresses correctly.