Blogs | Ethan Shorey

Bad decisions can be costly

Sometimes you don't realize how much "little" local decisions can impact your life until they come back and smack you in the face. Some North Providence residents are about to deal with that reality after someone in the distant past failed to come up with new names for four streets. Whether through a lack of creative thinking, lack of knowing or lack of caring, someone made the decision to give the same name to multiple streets.

Read my story on the situation HERE.

Imagine for a minute that you live on Adams Street and you get a notice in the mail saying the suffix on your street name has to change from "Street" to "Road." The letter mentions something about the emergency response folks being sure they're headed to the right home when a call comes in. Simple enough?

Then you start contemplating just how much of your life is tied into your street's name. There's the driver's license, the credit cards, the return mailing address, the deed on your home, the utility and tax bills. Then there's the voter registration, the social security account, the checks, the online forms...maybe even the wedding or party invitations that were already created and paid for.

You realize you're in for months of headaches. You expect to make those changes as part of the upheaval of a move, not because someone failed to do their job.

Fortunately for those impacted in North Providence, it looks like officials are going to foot the bill for the mistakes of the past. But even if residents don't have to pay for all the coming changes themselves, they're still in for a painful lesson on the cost of poor decisions.

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I really thought every community was forced to take care of this when they set up the state-wide 91 emergency response system!

We used to make decisions without realizing the costly effects. And its too late for us to wake up and make the necessary moves slackness will push us thru.
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It can get much worse.

Around 2000 the province of Quebec decided to merge many municipalities, with large cities like Montreal and Quebec City subsuming adjacent suburbs, and smaller rural communities combining. Imagine my puzzlement when, on a 2002 search for a now-folded village of Rainville, I toured round and round the city of Farnham seeking evidence of the old family homestead. Finally pulling my car to the side of a road, perplexed by my inability to find the village, I was approached by a local fellow who asked if I needed help, and I told him of my search for Rainville. Motioning around us, he said "It's *all* Rainville." But it wasn't; it was now all Farnham.

Then I learned of the concomitant name changes that ordinarily occur when villages merge. Duplicate street names become problematic and new names for old places must be devised in an effort to avoid confusion to contemporary police and fire safety officials. Naturally, the usefulness of old maps and old memories fade when their factual basis loses relevancy even if some of us still refer to "where Brook Street (now Armistice Blvd. in Pawtucket) used to be."

In this part of the world native cultures typically gave names to locations that were descriptive of the place. Pawtucket, for example, means "at the falls," and Woonsocket, another city upstream on the Blackstone River with its own natural falls, means "thunder mist".

Thankfully Pawtucket is still At the Falls, and if Metacomet's ghost ever returns to haunt us, he will know where we are.