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Queens Chronicle

Street signs still causing confusion

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Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:00 am

Emergency responders, UPS, FedEx, taxis, and food delivery drivers are still having problems trying to find addresses in Hamilton Beach, a small waterfront community in south Queens.

Because it is mostly unheard of, strangers have difficulty navigating Hamilton Beach — which is bounded by Hawtree Basin to the north and west, Jamaica Bay to the south and the A subway line (104th Street) to the east. But now, thanks to some street renaming, it’s the residents who are confused.

They thought their navigational problems would be a thing of the past with the recent passage of street-renaming legislation and the installation of new street signs. But, according to John Bluemke, president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association, the new signs are disorienting.

Previously streets were labeled with numbers — now they have names. Bluemke said that he had asked for dual signs containing both the new name and the old street number. But, the city Department of Transportation, which installed the new signs, declined and used just the names.

“We would be happy with the dual names,” Bluemke said. “But, if we are not going to have the dual names, then the community really prefers the numbers.”

While the problem is being worked out, Bluemke has taken matters into his own hands: he made his own numbered street signs on plywood and nailed them to the telephone poles under the current named signs.

He also notified the city Fire Department of the street name changes, but was told it would take some time before the changes would be entered into the dispatch system. This can be dangerous for the residents of Hamilton Beach. Recently, Bluemke said, an ambulance summoned to an address on the renamed 164th Road had overlooked the street, which was missing its street sign. Fortunately Bluemke was able to chase after and flag down the ambulance.

In order to prevent such a thing from re-occurring, Commanding Officer of the 106th Precinct Capt. Joseph Courtesis reminds his personnel of the Hamilton Beach street name changes on a daily basis via an electronic bulletin board in the precinct’s meeting room.

One service that has not been affected by the changes is that of the U.S. Post Office. Mail has been delivered as usual, Bluemke said, crediting the Post Office for its awareness of both the old and new street names and numbers.

Marie Persans, vice president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association, agreed that dual signage would solve the problem. She also noted that several of the new signs are incorrect: Burlingame Court, for example, was labeled as Birmingham Court.

Persans said she believes that the street name problem is so widespread and confusing that a professional city planner is needed to sort it all out.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), who sponsored the Hamilton Beach street name-change legislation when he was the area’s councilman, said he wanted a ceremonial name change, which would have left the original street names in place with a second small sign underneath.

Unfortunately, Addabbo said, the DOT misconstrued what he wanted as a map change, and instead of just putting up new signs, they removed the original numbered signs, too. “That obviously caused a lot of problems, probably worse than what was previously,” the senator said.

“This will be rectified, this is going to be fixed — not a question of never being fixed, it will be fixed, just a question of when,” Addabbo added.

A DOT spokesman said that maintaining two signs with different names might only add to or prolong confusion over the streets’ new names.

Addabbo’s legislation made the following changes: 163rd Road, between 104th Street and Hawtree Basin, was renamed Burlingham Court;163rd Drive, between 104th Street and Hawtree Basin, is now James Court; 164th Avenue, between 104th Street and Hawtree Basin, was named McKee Avenue; 164th Road, between 104th Street and Hawtree Basin, is now Calhoun Road; 164th Drive, between 104th Street and Hawtree Basin, is Moncriff Drive; and 165th Avenue, between 104th Street and Hawtree Basin, is named Lockwood Court.

Welcome to the discussion.