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Talks on road name prove futile

On the road that has too many names, the debate rages on. Should it be Bearss Avenue?

Lake Magdalene Parkway, perhaps?

Or even, as one exasperated resident suggested, Easy Street?

Residents of the newly widened, four-lane stretch of road that connects swanky Tampa Palms to comfortable Carrollwood can't seem to agree on a name for their road, which before construction included five different street names: Ehrlich Road, Smitter Road, Lake Magdalene Boulevard, Bearss Avenue and Skipper Road.

Tuesday night, residents engaged in a another debate about the road and again failed to reach any kind of agreement.

"We'd hoped that something could be resolved, that there would be some clear-cut resolution," said Sandra Mulholland, who manages streets and addresses for the county's 911 department.

County officials said a multinamed road might cause crucial delays for emergency vehicles. They said residents must come up with a single name that's different from any other.

Instead, officials got an angry earful of opinions from residents who seem to be divided into two warring factions: the Lake Magdalene group and the Bearss group.

Residents of Lake Magdalene Boulevard, about 15 families, said losing the name of the picturesque lake would lower their property values.

"Bearss Avenue has a tendency to be an embarrassment to us all," said resident James Springfield. "I don't know anyone who knows how to pronounce it or feels there's anything particularly beautiful about it. All our addresses will be enhanced by the name Lake Magdalene."

But business owners supported the Bearss name, saying it's well-known for its unique spelling and the fact that it has long been an exit off Interstate 275. Others cited practicality: because the longest stretch of existing road is named Bearss, then Bearss it should be.

The 911 officials said any suggestion including the prefixes "Lake" or "Magdalene" probably won't get their recommendation because there are already eight streets named "Magdalene" and dozens that begin with "Lake."

Representatives from the U.S. Postal Service and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office both agreed that the road should have one name. But they stayed out of the debate.

The fate of the road's name ultimately rests in the hands of the Hillsborough County Commission, which will take the 911 department's recommendation, hear residents' comments and ultimately take a vote. That hearing is tentatively set for March 21.

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