SWANTON TOWN — What’s in a name? That’s a question of which town selectpersons must now be vigilant — when it comes to local street names, anyway.

The question is better phrased as what should not be in a name. The Vermont Enhanced 911 Board (E911), which oversees the state’s 911 emergency response system, has issued new recommendations for street naming. The stated purpose of these recommendations is two-fold. First and mainly, the recommendations are supposed to clarify home addresses for faster and more efficient emergency response. Basically, to help save lives. Secondly, they are supposed to remove some liability from municipalities in case of a response gone wrong.

Here’s one example: E911 recommends naming roads that stretch across town lines to distinguish the road’s separate portions — like Route 7, which is named Swanton Road in St. Albans Town, because it leads to Swanton, and St. Albans Road in Swanton because it leads to St. Albans.

The town selectboard focused on one such road crossing town lines at the board’s Sept. 25 meeting, Sweet Hollow Road, which is mostly in Sheldon, but also runs through Fairfield and Swanton.

Sweet Hollow’s numbering begins in Sheldon. By the time the road reaches Swanton, house numbers are past 2335. The houses are numbered with odd numbers on the left and even numbers on the right. Swanton’s town ordinance calls for the reverse, even on the left, odd on the right.

But there’s a bigger problem, as Swanton’s town administrator, David Jescavage, explained.

“There’s at least one situation right now where there’s a number in Swanton and there’s a number in Sheldon on Sweet Hollow that are the same, going through the same post office,” Jescavage said.

Jescavage said nine residences on the Swanton end of Sweet Hollow currently receive mail. The rest are vacant lots. There are six mail-receiving residences on the Fairfield portion, and 19 on the Sheldon section.

 

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