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Gold Hill streets may be renamed

GOLD HILL ' If you live in town, do you live on Second Avenue or Second Street? Fourth Avenue or Fourth Street?

Gold Hill's double trouble of numbered streets and avenues has been causing confusion among visitors, delivery truck drivers and emergency services providers for years.

Planning Commission Chairwoman Margaret Dial hopes to change all that. At the 6 p.m. Monday City Council meeting, Dial will propose a citywide street name change.

I've lived in town for 30 years on a very public corner, says Dial. About once a month I have to direct an ambulance or a fire truck onto another street. Clearly we have a very confusing grid in Gold Hill.

Dial's plan is to leave the avenues, which run east-west, with their numbered names and change the streets, which run north-south, to the names of local historical figures.

— If the decision is approved, approximately 64 street addresses will be affected, compared to 322 avenue addresses.

Gold Hill resident Leslie Durand moved to the corner of Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue in 1998. Durand says she can see there are clear community benefits to changing the names.

I always thought it seemed kind of silly to have First Street and First Avenue, says Durand. It's always been confusing.

But Durand is used to her numerical address. And, she says, local police and fire personnel understand the town's numerical grids.

The police definitely know our streets, Durand says. And the volunteer firefighters know our community, too. Most of them are from here.

Also, she says, change does not come easy, or cheap, for the residents affected on the streetside of town.

I can see how it's going to be a lot of work for the people who live on the streets. We'll have to change everything ' legal documents, checks, she says.

The problem, says Dial, wasn't foisted upon Gold Hill by the poor planning of former city fathers. Maps from 1896 show the streets were originally named after trees.

The railroad insisted on an all-numbers grid, says Dial. That made sense to the railroad and to nobody else.

Dial says the planning commission met with community organizations and historians to come up with acceptable names for the streets. They selected names of historical figures who had a positive influence on Gold Hill's history.

For example, proposed Ambrose Street would be named after Dardanelle Indian Agent Dr. George Ambrose. Fredenburg Street would be named in honor of dance teacher Tom Fredenburg.

I guess people used to come from all over the valley to attend dances in Gold Hill, says Dial. We had street dances, dances at the grange and in the (town) halls.

Public Works Director Royal Gasso says the name change makes sense.

picking historical names, there is absolutely no duplication, says Gasso.

Since Dial was able to go alphabetically up the historical name tree, the new system is ideal and easily understood, Gasso says.

In fact, the only letter for which Dial was not able to find a historical match was I. That street is being named Ideal after a local cement company.

Gasso and Dial say the fix for the longtime problem will require the council to come to a quick decision if the name change is going to be incorporated into the city's &

36;2.3 million Highway 234 reconstruction project.

The project, which is bringing new sidewalks, curbs and gutters to downtown Gold Hill, is the perfect time to get these changes not only made, but funded, says Dial.

Highway 234 becomes Second Avenue in downtown Gold Hill. All but two of the affected street names come off this section of the highway, and new signage is a part of the project scope, says Gasso.

I counted all the signs and the city will save at least &

36;7,000 by having this funded through the project, says Gasso.

The restoration project is moving ahead on schedule and the new signs must be ordered no later than Tuesday, says Dial.

As we change the look of downtown, we are going to enhance its personality, says Dial. This is the time to make a decision and financially offset the costs. This is a wonderful opportunity for Gold Hill.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail .