Thursday, September 17, 2009

Signs of Relief in Hamilton Beach

Streets Will Bear Two Names

By Patricia Adams

The confusion and frustration over renamed streets in Hamilton Beach is finally nearing an end, according to the office of Councilman Eric Ulrich. At the heart of the street naming issue was the growing concern of Hamilton Beach residents over numbered streets that shared the same names in nearby Howard Beach. Community residents feared that like addresses would be confused and emergency vehicles would go to the wrong neighborhood and that delays in response time would translate to lives lost.

Late in 2008, then councilmember Joe Addabbo requested legislation for a ceremonial street name change to remedy residents concerns. Under such a provision named signs would be installed as an accompaniment to the numbered ones already in place.

But in early 2009, the city removed the numbered signs, e.g. 164th Avenue, 165th Avenue, and replaced them with new signs bearing names like Burlingham Court and McKee Avenue The city claimed Addabbo’s request was for a mapping change which would require the numbered street signs to be removed and new named street signs to be hung in their place.

According to a spokesman from the Department of Transportation (DOT), when the Councilmember’s office submitted the requisite forms, the wrong box was inadvertently checked and the request was not for a ceremonial change, therefore the original signs had to be removed.

John Bluemke, president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association, was quick to respond to the city’s unexpected sign removal—Bluemke simply painted the familiar street numbers onto wood signs and affixed them to the same telephone poles which bear the official city signs.

After a string of correspondence with DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy, Councilmember Ulrich’s office told The Forum that the problem is soon to be a thing of the past. “We heard from Commissioner McCarthy on this matter and the DOT is going to install numbered street signs and leave the named street signs in place,” said Matt Hickey, Chief of Staff to Ulrich.

The councilman will now have to pass another local law and work with the Council’s legal department to correct the original request to that of a ceremonial change ensuring there will be no further map changes.

“This is a great relief for the residents who had understandable safety concerns over this issue,” said Ulrich. The councilmember will now pass the legislation allowing for both signs to be displayed at thoroughfares in Hamilton Beach is underway to formally complete the process.

The streets which will bear two street signs are:

Burlingham Court (163rd Road), James Court (163rd Drive), McKee Court (164th Avenue), Calhoun Court (164th Road), Mancriff Court (164th Drive), Lockwood Court (165th Avenue), Ocean Avenue (104th Street).

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