A public meeting was held at the Kidder Township Municipal building Wednesday afternoon about readdressing the township to conform to what most neighboring communities have done to keep emergency response personnel on the right road to finding addresses.
In the age of Google, Mapquest and online global positioning satellite systems, a cell phone may pinpoint your location but it is your landline that is associated with your residence and where an emergency dispatcher will determine to send police, fire or ambulance services, according to Carbon County Communications Center representatives who answered questions for residents.
About 30 people, representing residents from most all of the developments in the township in addition to many emergency responders from the entire area, attended the Tuesday afternoon session to discuss a uniform system to locate residences.
It was hoped the Communications Center personnel could also help convey information and educate the public.
"We are trying to establish the importance of the project … and to accomplish the project in the next year or so," township manager John Finnerty told the audience members.
Director of the Communications Center, Gary Williams explained that some private developments in the township seem to be the problem because they tend to be a hodge-podge of non-sequential numbers mixed with letters in difficult to find residences where emergency responders say lost time matters.
Williams responded to Hank George, a resident from Holiday Pocono, who said, "That's the problem, sir, it's your development, it's in the developments. That stuff doesn't work in the 911 profession. We are looking for sequential numbers, odd on one side of the street and even on the other. Houses should not have letters. A stretch of road has a range."
A range was defined as a dispatcher term which refers to a block of sequential numbers. They said, however, parts of Kidder offers nonsensical ranges to dispatchers.
"Utilities, water, sewer, cable, phone often times turn to the 911 center to find an address, Williams said.
"It's a makeshift map, but we have a map. We took it upon ourselves to make it," said Kidder Township Fire Chief, William "Bill" Bresnak, who stressed the pressure responders are under while handling emergency calls in a timely manner.
On two occasions in the meeting, township manager Finnerty used his gavel to control the audience, saying, "One at a time, One at a time!"
Lake Harmony Fire Chief Ralph Lennon agreed that the project has to be done, "but expenses are not the issue when it's all about public safety."
Some residents wondered why a readdressing is necessary and what exactly it entailed. Officials from the Carbon County Communications Center addressed some of the misinformation about the project. Fire Chief Bresnak offered some first-hand accounts and said he welcomed the recommendations from the county.
Kidder Township Police Chief Matthew Kuzma supported the readdressing.
Emergency responders gave accounts of some dangerous situations where the time lost in finding a residence was critical.
Finnerty said that in neighboring Mt. Pocono it took five years with the readdressing project and it was with professional help. He said that township supervisors have discussed an ordinance to enforce a readdressing project which may tend to get expensive for some developments with added purchases of street signs, it can be expensive.
Supervisors seemed to prefer residents' cooperation with the project instead of an enforcement ordinance.
There was discussion about Penn Forest Township taking it upon themselves to do the entire readdressing of the township. Some responders gave them open kudos for achieving it. The cost was not known.
"The Kidder Township office staff have really been doing the legwork," Finnerty said, adding that he anticipates that it will increase since the project is enormous.
The purpose of this meeting, he said, was to get input from the public. He ended the meeting an hour later saying there would be more workshops on the subject.