History-minded residents of Leavenworth County are displeased with Thursday's decision to rename many rural roads in the county.
On Thursday, the Leavenworth County Commission approved an ordinance that renames many of the rural roads. The ordinance is a combination of the commission's earlier plan to extend road names from Wyandotte County and a recommendation submitted by a committee appointed to come up with alternative road names.
According to one displeased resident, the ordinance includes too much of the commission's earlier plan and is robbing the county of its cultural integrity.
THE NEW NAMES will be in effect as soon as the ordinance is published in the county newspaper. The courthouse was closed today in honor of Veteran's Day and county officials could not be reached.
Dorothy Smith, chairwoman of the committee appointed several months ago to study the road-naming plan, said Thursday that the ordinance that commissioners adopted extends too many Wyandotte County road names into Leavenworth County.
Under the ordinance, most north-south roads will assume Wyandotte County names, as will many east-west roads, Smith said.
"I'm very disappointed that they didn't adopt the road names we recommended," she said. "I think Leavenworth County is losing its identity."
But Jim Hewitt, county director of planning, said Thursday that the plan is acceptable and will meet the county's needs of improved road identification. He added that no plan would have met with approval from all county residents.
"YOU CAN never make everybody happy," Hewitt said.
The road-naming project has been in the works for nearly 10 years and was initiated because of growth, Hewitt said.
Fast-paced growth in the county created a problem when dispatching emergency personnel, deliverymen and repairmen and the mail, he said. A 911 emergency telephone system also influenced the project, he said.
The county's next step is to erect 740 new signs at rural intersections and to notify rural residents of their new addresses. The rural addresses now box numbers will have five digits to distinguish them from the two-, three- and four-digit urban addresses, Hewitt said.
Hewitt said he did not know when the new road signs would be installed, adding that winter could delay the work. Hewitt guessed that several thousand new addresses would have to be assigned under the ordinance.
The renaming project sparked a controversey among local residents who did not want Wyandotte County road names to replace what they considered names that preserved the county's history.
SMITH SAID her committee was charged with canvassing the county to interview residents about rural road names. The results of the survey were included in the committee's recommendation to the commission, but Smith said the recommendation was overlooked.
James "Pete" Shortridge, a cultural geographer and Kansas University geography professor, said during the turmoil in April that the renaming of roads "seems very ordinary but has reasonably profound implications."
Shortridge said the difference lies in the history behind a street name, adding that different road names could distort local history and could rob citizens of historic fixtures in their lives.
Hewitt said a large map used to create the renaming plan will be reduced and made available to the public in about two weeks.