This article caught my eye because the first paragraph sounds so familiar. Although the town in Puerto Rico where I grew up has street names and addresses, people still prefer to give directions this way: “Turn left at the mango tree, take your second right at the curve, go past the pink house and you’ll see it on the right.” As Constance Cooper (Virgin Islands Daily News) reports, “those kinds of directions will be a thing of the past” in the U. S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
The USVI Lieutenant Governors’ Office is planning, “two years and $500,000 to $1 million from now” to develop a comprehensive street address system that will give all of the territory’s streets unique names and assign a logical, sequential number to each property. Benefits that a modern address system would bring are a better 911 response, Global Positioning Satellite Systems that work accurately, increased home delivery of mail, and a simpler Census process. Besides enhancing public safety, an address system would make the territory easier to navigate. The article also gives several examples of the failings of the current system in day-to-day life.
Richards told senators that the Lt. Governor’s Office is working with the Public Works Department to get funding for street signs, but even if signs do not go up immediately, people still will be better able to find their way around. Shawna Richards, spokeswoman for the Lt. Governor’s Office adds that the changes “would put the territory on par with mainland jurisdictions by enabling GPS-navigable streets and greater use of GPS technology. Consider the benefits not only to our residents but to the thousands of people who visit the territory every year.”
The Virgin Islands’ current address system is the result of dividing and sub-dividing Danish plantations. When an estate was divided into a parcel, that parcel was given a number. Parcel numbers were given in the order divisions were made, not according to where the parcel lay along a roadway. As the parcels were further divided, letters were added, resulting in an alphanumeric address system that the U.S. Postal Service is unable to use. However, the postal service would not begin delivering to every home immediately; carriers would start to make deliveries to postal boxes purchased by residents or homeowners associations and placed at central locations in each neighborhood.
Theresa Anduze-Parris, GIS coordinator for the Lt. Governor’s Office, estimates that a new address system could be in place in two years, but to do that, the office is asking the Senate to give it the authority to assign street names without getting approval from the Legislature. Apparently, many names were already chosen in 1990, when the Public Works Department collected street name suggestions from 26 communities on St. Croix and 17 on St. John. The project stalled because of a lack of funding for street signs and the Senate’s failure to make those names official.
Personally, although I am sure that the improved system will help on an institutional level, I believe that people will still prefer to say, “Turn left at the mango tree, take your second right at the curve, go past the pink house and you’ll see it on the right.”
[Virgin Islanders interested in learning the names submitted in 1990 or in suggesting new names should contact Shawna Richards by phone at 340-773-6459, extension 3129, or e-mail at email@example.com.]
For full article, see http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=17645438
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