2006-04-15 / Top News

No More Guessing; Island Now Has Addresses

City Still Working Out Project Snags for Multi-Unit Buildings
By Ryan Schlehuber

All buildings on Mackinac Island, including Fort Mackinac and other Mackinac Island State Park historic buildings, will have an address sign posted either on the building or on a display post visible from a road by July 1. Residents and businesses can now pick up their new addresses at City Hall. All buildings on Mackinac Island, including Fort Mackinac and other Mackinac Island State Park historic buildings, will have an address sign posted either on the building or on a display post visible from a road by July 1. Residents and businesses can now pick up their new addresses at City Hall. Seasonal workers coming to Mackinac Island this summer will be pleased to know that it may no longer take 45 minutes on the telephone to install services like cable television or a telephone line. This spring, Mackinac Island has address numbers assigned to buildings, like most of the rest of the country,

so the frustration of describing where you are on Mackinac to an operator in Texas may be a thing of the past. The city is still

working out kinks with addressing buildings with multiple units, but, for the most part, the new addresses will make Mackinac Island friendlier to the outside world, something its economic vitality depends on.

No longer is the Island a place without an address system.

"That is the biggest hassle for new residents and seasonal workers coming to the Island, having to install a phone line, for example," said Dan Seeley, a retired teacher and volunteer Island firefighter.

That problem should now be resolved, said Kyle Christie, an AT&T repairman who covers the Island.

"People will call in and they'll usually get someone from AT&T in San Antonio, for example," he said, "so they're not going to understand that a place like Mackinac Island wouldn't have addresses, so people are either on the line for a long time trying to explain where they're at or they just make up a fake address."

"Most workers have been pretty savvy with getting set up with service connections," said Lake View Hotel General Manager Chris Modd. "They'll either give the phone or cable TV company a fake address or they'll tell the operator that they live in the same building as someone that is already in their system. Now it will be nice for them to just call up, tell them their address, and be hooked up."

Addresses are now available, but city officials still are wrestling with address numbers for buildings with multiple units, such as a building with a business on the lower level and apartments upstairs, or several businesses in a onestory building.

Kelly Bean, the mayor's assistant, said the city is trying to come up with an address numbering system where emergency responders will be able to distinguish between residential and business units.

"There's a lot of difficulty with a building with one address but with multiple units," said Ms. Bean. "We have to figure out how to distinguish each kind of unit in the address."

Nikki and Joe Gugin, for example, live in an apartment above the First National Bank on Market Street. The bank's address is 7399 Market Street and the Gugins' address may have to be 7399-201 Market Street, which would indicate that it is another unit within the building and it is on the second floor. Two businesses sharing one building could be identified in the address as "A" or "B," depending on what the city and building owners agree to.

Sara Chambers, who manages United Parcel Service on the Island, said she is unsure how the new address system will affect her delivery system. She said her system relies on memorization of where people live and work, but with new UPS workers, it may be beneficial.

For years, local emergency responders relied on their familiarity with the area and got dispatching assistance from the Michigan State Police in St. Ignace. That system was beginning to break down, however, as condominiums, dormitories, and other new housing sprung up and the Island lost its ability to operate as a small town. When the State Police transferred all dispatch responsibilities to trained 9-1-1 dispatchers in Negaunee, Mackinac Island either had to operate its own around-the-clock dispatch system or join the rest of Mackinac County in an enhanced 9-1-1 program.

A system without addresses was becoming dangerous.

"There was an incident I heard about where an ambulance couldn't find a house around here so the lady had to run down the driveway and flag them down to help her husband," said Michele Reitman, who lives in one of Mackinac's growing subdivisions on the old Stonecliffe estate. "With the new addresses, I think there will be no question where the emergency is located."

Mackinac Island now has basic 9-1-1 service, where a caller must give specific location directions to responders, but with the new addressing system completed, the Island will now be qualified to implement Enhanced 9-1-1, with addresses keyed into dispatchers' computers, so they will be able to pinpoint a caller as soon as a call is made to 9-1-1, without the caller even speaking.

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