Friday, February 9, 2007
Naming town roads
Turning off South Street onto West Street the other day, I noticed a new road immediately off on the left, Hobblebush Lane. A little further up West Street, on the right, crossing over a bridge, was another new road named Applegrove Lane. These are not the street names that I would normally associate with the town of Carlisle, so it got me to thinking about how Carlisle goes about naming town roads.
After several discussions with Planning Board Administrator George Mansfield, and others in the know, here is what I learned. A developer comes before the Carlisle Planning Board to present a proposal for building a subdivision road or a common driveway, along with suggestions of what to name the road or roads. Before approving the proposed names, they are shared with the Police and Fire Departments to assure that they are names that can easily be responded to in an emergency. The Planning Board also consults with the Carlisle Historical Society on the name.
But back to Hobblebush, a species of viburnum not recorded in Carlisle, and Applegrove, with no special local significance. Couldn't more appropriate names be found for new roads being built in town?
Not far away, in a new development going in off of Cross Street, there are three common driveways with more appropriate names, including one that is historical. They are Trillium Way, Greystone Lane and Captain Wilson Lane. Yes, there is trillium growing on the property; schist rock is found on the land, and Captain Wilson Lane honors Captain Horace Waldo Wilson, who lived in the area and was the only man from Carlisle who achieved the rank of Captain during the Civil War.
Unfortunately, the names of the roads in the proposed 40B Coventry Woods development off Concord Street, Pasquale Drive and Anna Drive, have no relationship to town history or the land. Some of the street names that do preserve a sense of Carlisle history include Heald Road, Hart Farm Road, Buttrick Woods, Wilkins Lane, Blaisdell Drive and Litchfield Drive, just to name a few.
In 1960, the Historical Commission submitted a list of historical names that might be used for naming roads. Maybe it is time to look at that list again and for townspeople to come forward with some new ideas for the Planning Board with respect to their approval (or disapproval) of road names proposed by developers. We certainly can do better than Hobblebush and Applegrove.
My Microsoft Word auto speller instantly alerts me, with its wavy red line, that I should either write "global" or go "local" instead. In polite PC correctness it suggests that I add it to the dictionary or ignore its error message altogether. Sitting by the desk at my small Carlisle home office, I am mulling over the question of when and how our "Small Town in the Woods" went from Village to Global to Glocal Village.
Upon entering Carlisle, where the road sign declares proudly, "Est. 1754," maples, oaks and pines stand tall and quaint rural vistas stretch as far as the eye can see. The few major routes crisscrossing the town, not highways by any stretch of the imagination, are the way to get places, in and out of town, for its 5,320 residents (as of August 4, 2006, according to the town's official website at www.carlisle.org). With the obvious limitations of horrendous winter driving conditions, speed limits between 20 and 30 mph, and Share the Road spirit, it takes a while, but we all get somewhere at the end of the day.
But, in the early '90s, the Internet happened. Sooner or later we all found ourselves entangled in the wonders of the World Wide Web, and as the Information Highway crept into our town and lives, we went global without even leaving home. Connected ever since, we've become rather cosmopolitan within the comfort of our 01741 zip code.
A few years ago, as its infrastructure became stable and new user-friendly tools and applications were created, the web evolved from a push model, which provides online information and services, to a push/pull model, dubbed Web 2.0.
Web lingo is forceful and bold — you push (content) and pull (info), tag (key words) and hit (web pages), terminate and delete. Some even hack while others crush. If that's not enough, there is a plethora of uniquely coined terms, at times even conjugated, which describe web users' actions — like e-mailing, googling, podcasting, uploading and downloading. Web 2.0 lingo is all about interactivity, sharing and streaming. More than ever before it crosses geographical lines, cultural divides and language barriers without attempting to recreate the all-inclusive Global Village of the old web (retrospectively called Web 1.0) days.
Nowadays, you can SMS your loved ones, or Skype them, and befriend strangers on the Net. You can Google, or Yahoo, or visit MySpace or YouTube to watch home videos or music clips. You can become anybody and adopt a nick (as in screen name for your virtual identity), create a web page to share personal diaries on Bloggers or FaceBook and then talkback to fellow bloggers. If you care for Windows shopping, well, you can now shop (for anything from anywhere) till the mouse drops. Sites like eBay and craigslist mushroomed into mega auction outlets and classified listings.
Marrying satellite technologies with public domain databases gave rise to sites like Zillow, which at the click of the mouse offers web users a view of real estate properties and their respective market-value estimates. Named last year by Time magazine as one of the 50 Coolest Websites, Zillow put the Z ahead of itself —offering zestimates of any of its 76 million (and growing) zindexed listings.
Today's web is the place to see and to be seen, for better or worse. As a result, public debate will increasingly focus on issues of privacy and safety, free speech and copyrights, and the possible need for regulatory guidelines.
Meanwhile, the highway to cyberspace is at our fingertips. Just buckle up and watch the road.
© 2007 The