Advertisement

What's in a name?

March 02, 1999

Berkeley County Commission President D. Wayne Dunham says if a Hedgesville, W.Va. couple succeeds in overturning the county's choice of names for their street, it could jeopardize a new 911 address-conversion program. It's possible, but there's a way out of this that the county government apparently hasn't considered - compromise.

Why compromise? Because up to this point, the county hasn't made a convincing argument that the program would be harmed if the name of Paul and Carolyn Oliver's street is not changed from "Boy Scout Road" to "Big F Park Road."

Frankly, we'd want to hold onto the old name, too. "Boy Scout," with its associations with duty, honor and love of nature is certainly preferable to "Big F Park," unless you know some of the history behind that name.

Big F Park was an open-air concert area, run by the Fitzwater family, on the order of Shiley Acres. The park hosted a variety of acts, including country music legend George Jones, during the 1950s and '60s. The street on which the Olivers live was apparently the entranceway to the park.

Advertisement

Based on that history, it's apparent that no vulgar association was intended by the committee charged with coming up with new names. However, we still believe a compromise is preferable to court action, because if a judge rules that the county commission doesn't have the right to change county road names, it could put the whole 911 address-conversion system in jeopardy. That could have tragic consequences, because part of the plan is to eliminate similar-sounding names, so there's no confusion when someone calls in during an emergency situation.

Our suggestion: If the Olivers still find "Big F Park Road" offensive, call it Fitzwater Road. That would preserve a little bit of local history, and show that local government, as the servant of the people, can accommodate citizens' requests when they're reasonable and not too costly.

And while we're on the topic of what's reasonable, we'd ask anyone dissatisfied with their new street name to remember that citizens were asked for suggestions, so that when a terrified person calls in the middle of the night, help gets to the right place.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|