Epping street name changes are on hold due to 911 concerns
EPPING — Selectmen have postponed additional name changes planned for some local streets after complaints from residents and concerns over whether the state's E-911 system is prepared to handle the changes.
The town has spent months working on a plan to rename streets with similar names to avoid confusion for emergency responders, but selectmen voted Monday to hold off on the changes after problems during a recent call.
Former fire chief Hank Letourneau, the town's 911 liaison, said there was some confusion for a dispatcher at the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department who didn't recognize the name when a call was received about a vehicle off the road on the newly named Towle Road. The road was formerly known as High Road.
Letourneau said the call was made to 911, but the system needs an upgrade to properly disseminate the new name changes to local dispatch centers. He said 911 is making the necessary changes to address the issue.
Selectmen agreed to wait until the problem is resolved before moving ahead with the renaming plan.
One of the next streets slated for a name change is Old Hedding Road, which is split by Route 125. The town plans to change one section to Fogg Road and the other to Cofin Road, Letourneau said.
The town changed names on 12 roads last year.
Old Hedding Road was added to the list because of concerns about responders confusing it with Hedding Road, but some residents at Monday's meeting questioned whether the name really needs to change.
Old Hedding Road resident Randall Greenwood said he feels Old Hedding Road "stands by itself" and that it would be hard to confuse with Hedding Road because it has "old" in the name.
"There needs to be some serious discussion whether you actually need to change them," he told selectmen.
Selectmen reminded residents that the changes were being made at the recommendation of 911 officials.
Letourneau said some towns have ended up in court because of situations where names weren't changed and responders went to the wrong location.
Selectman Tom Gauthier, board chairman, also asked that the town alert FedEx, UPS and other delivery companies to the changes.
"We should be helping out as much as we can at least by sending out letters to companies in the area that make deliveries," he said.