What’s in a name?
When it comes to dubbing approximately 1,600 feet of new road, connecting Country Club Road to Mt. Adams Avenue, apparently, a lot.
The Hood River City Council wrapped up a 90-minute public hearing Feb. 25 on the potential road name by putting a decision off for two weeks.
Suggested names from the city staff and other meeting attendees came under fire from business and winery owners Monday night, saying that a new name would cause confusion for customers or truck drivers.
“Some of you may not think a street name makes a difference for a business but it does,” said Shawna Caldwell, co-owner of Stonehedge Gardens. “Street names are very important.”
City Manager Bob Francis had proposed either the name Coe Avenue – in honor of one of the founding families of Hood River, or Hood River Avenue – which is a street name in the area suggested in the original 1800s platting of the county.
All the members of the public who testified at the meeting spoke in favor of keeping the name Country Club Road as the first option.
Hood River Fire Chief Devon Wells expressed concern over confusion for dispatchers and emergency responders sending crews to a Country Club Road that would have high numbers at both ends, 3450 for Stonehedge Restaurant and 1850 for the Hood River Golf Course.
“You would expect 3450 to be up past the golf course,” Wells told the council.
Wells said that during stressful situations, callers sometimes give unclear or contradicting information in an emergency, and with many calls coming in from cellphones, it is difficult to pin down exactly where the call is coming from.
He cited an example from last year where responders were dispatched to Summit View Drive off Frankton Road for a seizure in progress. Eventually after getting more information from the caller it was discovered they were supposed to be at Summit Drive in Odell.
“Street names being sufficiently different or separated is very important to first responders,” Wells said.
If the road were to be kept as Country Club, Stonehedge would be one of the few addresses on the new portion of road.
Caldwell told the council that Stonehedge would gladly take a new address number lower than 100 to make the numbers flow properly if that meant keeping the Country Club Road name.
“With respect to the Chiefs’ (concerns), there are two addresses there and if we can’t sort that out, personally I’m scared,” said Cathedral Ridge Winery owner Robb Bell.
Bell also expressed concern with tourists and visitors having difficulty finding wineries along Country Club if the road were to have a changed name.
Bell said current business directions — “get off at exit 62, go to Country Club and take a right” – are simple. Telling people to go to the first stop light, turn at Mt. Adams, turn right on the new road and then turn left onto Country Club could become confusing.
Bell stated he was in favor of a “slip lane” which would allow vehicles traveling south over the exit 62 overpass to go right onto Country Club while prohibiting left-hand turns from the opposite-direction traffic lanes.
City Manager Bob Francis said he was also in favor of a slip lane but that ODOT had told him Hood River could lose $3 million in ODOT funds if the Cascade-Country Club intersection was not completely closed.
He did add however that Hood River State Sen. Chuck Thomsen and State Rep. Mark Johnson were now involved trying to convince ODOT to change its decision.
The city council wants to wait until after the slip lane issue is decided before moving ahead on the renaming. If the slip lane were to remain open, that portion of road would have to be named something as well, in order for Timber Crest Condominiums to have a proper address.
Whether or not the slip lane remains open would likely determine whether or not the new stretch of road would be dubbed Country Club as well.
Another option the council is exploring is renaming the portion of Mt. Adams Avenue that intersects with Cascade as County Club Road and having Mt. Adams start one block to the south. Mt. Adams is eventually slated to run north-south from Cascade to Belmont.
One name no longer in consideration for the new road is Coe Avenue. The council heard from former Stonehedge owner Jean Harmon, who delivered a brief history lesson. The original Coe property in Hood River was associated with land east of 13th Street, according to Harmon, so naming a street on the west edge of town would not make sense from a historical perspective.
Ultimately, Mayor Arthur Babitz decided to continue the hearing for two weeks in order to give time for Hood River’s legislators “to try and work some magic” on the slip lane and try to bring clarity to the naming and address numbering possibilities.
The hearing will continue March 11 at 6 p.m. at city hall.