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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Modern Address System in the Works for Territory

If you live on a street without a name, you and your neighbors need to start thinking about what you’d like to call it. A bill now being drafted in the V.I. Legislature, plus efforts by various government agencies and departments, will mandate that all streets have names—and lots have numbers—to put an end to those quaint addresses that begin, "Turn left at the palm tree."
"It’s to modernize the addressing system," said Stevie Henry, acting coordinator at UVI’s Conservation Data Center.
Henry and Lieutenant Governor’s Office spokesperson Shawna Richards both stressed that the comprehensive address system is just at the beginning stages.
"All of this had to proceed in a planned manner, and we have to engage the community," Richards said.
While streets in the towns have names, many neighborhood streets remain unnamed. Additionally, many lots have no street numbers. Instead they’re known by their plot numbers based on the antiquated way of identifying parcels of land. Those plot numbers are seldom posted so people trying to locate specific houses or businesses are out of luck.
The new system is necessary so emergency vehicles can locate buildings using a Global Positioning System. Henry said that people who call for emergency services often have to stay on the line to guide emergency workers to their houses by giving landmarks because they have no street addresses.
"The bottom line is safety," Richards added.
While Police Department vehicles do have GPS devices in place, both Henry and Richards said that in order to maximize their capabilities, the territory must come up with a comprehensive address system.
Chatter on Internet travel forums also indicate that visitors are frustrated because they can’t use their GPS to find their destinations. Henry also suggested that having street addresses similar to those on the mainland would convince stateside Internet shopping retailers to ship to the U.S. Virgin Islands. While some currently do, there are many that won’t.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Craig Barshinger, who said the government has to come up with the funding for the project.
According to Barshinger, Rotary clubs across the territory will be asked to help out in places where there are no homeowners associations or community groups to suggest street names.
As for the building numbering system, that remains unclear. According to Barshinger, they will carry a number that matches the number of yards along that particular street. For example, if a house sits 440 yards from the closest intersection, it will carry the number 440.
However, Henry envisioned a system similar to that used in most places on the mainland, where buildings on the left side of the street will carry odd numbers and those on the right side will have even numbers.
How long it will take to implement a new system is unknown. However, Henry said that it could be done in a year if the "political will" was there. He pointed out that while there will be people reluctant to come on board with the new system, the nearby British Virgin Islands can serve as an example. He said it has implemented street names and numbers for all its roads.

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