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Monticello Officials Willing
To Hold Up 911, If Necessary

By John Emerson
MONTICELLO — February 25, 2000 -- Starr Avenue in the Village of Monticello has become a symbol of the battle between Sullivan County and village officials over the new address system that is needed to implement the enhanced 911 system, which is almost ready to go online.
The street has the requisite odd-numbered houses on one side and even-numbered houses on the other, but those numbers are on the wrong sides of the street, according to the National Emergency Numbering Association numbering scheme adopted for the implementation of the 911 system. That system calls for even numbers on the right side of the street and odd numbers on the left side as you travel from west to east, just the reverse of Starr Avenue’s numbers.
“They told us the numbers were okay, but they had to be flip-flopped,” said Mayor Gary Sommers. “I don’t see why they can’t just make a notation and leave the addresses alone.”
That’s not going to happen, according to Sullivan County Director of Public Information Glenn Pontier. He said if there are final changes in assigning new numbers and addresses to village residences, such as a corner housing facing one street and assigned an address on another, that could and would be done. A wholesale return to the former system is not in the cards.
“This is a public safety issue,” Pontier said. “This pattern is not something we invented – it’s followed all over the rest of the county and the rest of the country. We’re not trying to do anything mean or nasty to the village – it’s a question of the public’s safety.”
Under the enhanced 911 system, dispatchers can identify where a call is coming from even if the caller cannot respond. A map is displayed on the dispatcher’s screen instantly identifying the location of the call with the address. Without a uniform system of addresses, the system cannot operate, Pontier said.
Other problems in the village, according to Kevin Karn, who is coordinating the implementation of the system for the county, include many residences without street numbers and, in some cases, residences that are on the same side of the street that alternate with both odd and even numbers.
Sommers conceded the need for some changes within the village. He said he was ready to compromise in several areas, especially where there either are no numbers or houses alternate with odd and even numbers on the same side of the street. What he is not willing to do is to accept many of the changes to the numerous apartment complexes within the village, which he argues are illogical.
Sommers also says that the village was left out of the discussions concerning the address changes, and that residents were not informed of the changes in a timely manner. He said letters dated in September informing residents of their new addresses were not received until about 10 days ago.
Tuesday, village board members adopted a resolution demanding that the existing numbering and addresses within the village be grandfathered and left alone. The board stands ready to fight the county – and everyone else, if need be – to hold on to as many addresses as possible and still allow the system to be implemented.
Sommers said he was meeting with Karn yesterday to try to work out some of the problems. He said that, with compromise, many of the issues can be solved, and he was willing to do that.
“I think all of these things could have been resolved if the letters were sent in a timely manner,” Sommers said. “The village has taken a stand, and if we have to draw a line in the sand and take the criticism for holding up the 911 system, that’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to protect the village.”

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