At yesterday’s Ellwood City borough council agenda meeting, several residents expressed concerns regarding a proposed change to Beechwood Boulevard street addresses.
The change would affect 38 properties, many on Beechwood Boulevard. All of the addresses were identified by Lawrence County Emergency Services as potentially difficult for emergency personnel to find due to confusing street numbers.
David High presented council with a petition signed by 10 residents addressing multiple concerns over the changes. Several of the affected addresses are in Beaver County, and High questioned how a Lawrence County agency could request a change in another county. In addition, the petition listed potential problems for affected residents, such as needing to alter mortgage documents and credit card information.
Visitors also questioned why the addresses had now become a problem and cited examples of previous timely emergency personnel responses. One visitor felt the decision was rushed and sneaky, and constituents weren’t properly informed.
“This isn’t in our best interest,” a visitor said to council at the beginning of the meeting.
Ellwood fire Chief Rick Myers, who was present at the meeting, explained that the changes were mainly for emergency personnel from outside the borough. According to Myers, ambulances from Butler, Mercy, and Beaver counties with drivers unfamiliar to Ellwood’s layout have difficulty locating the affected addresses via GPS or street signs. Myers added that the borough no longer has a dedicated ambulance service and relies more on aid from outside the locality.
Plans for the address changes began in fall 2017 under the previous council under the direction of former borough manager Bob Villella. A planned meeting in December never took place, and the responsibility shifted to current council president Judi Dici and newcomer Rob Brough.
Lawrence County Emergency Services identified over 100 residences to change and according to a memo read aloud by Brough, gave the borough the option to change some, none or all.
Dici and Brough met with Myers and Lt. Dave Kingston, the borough’s ranking police officer. After what Brough described as “a three-hour tour” the list was narrowed to 38. Many of the chosen residences are assigned an address to a secondary alley or way instead of the primary street.
“I’ve been a lifelong resident of Ellwood City, and I didn’t know we had this many ways,” Brough said.
At both the beginning and end of the meeting, High asked council to reconsider its plan and suggested an alternative: place one sign on lower Beechwood that clearly displays all addresses down the road.
“I understand the address changes are intended to benefit us, but I hope you reconsider and weigh our alternative,” High said.
At the conclusion of the discussion, new council member Jim Barry questioned council’s decision. “This will affect all these people,” Barry said. “We can’t do this, can we?”
Dici informed visitors there was no intent at deception and agreed to have further discussions with affected residents.
“I don’t believe the county would recommend changes if there wasn’t an issue,” Dici said.