Addressing Task Force: All about the details
Getting around Grand County can be confusing.
The mountains hem you in and if you’re unfamiliar with the area it is easy to lose track of your bearings. Our roads don’t run in the standardized grid patterns found on more level topography and the winding, meandering, circuitous nature of our mountain roads can easily disorient. Add to that the fact that many roads in Grand County are marked with colloquial street names created by real estate developers or Home Owners Associations (HOAs) and not by their official Grand County Road designations and it can be difficult to find your desired location, even when you have a specific address and GPS navigation.
All this means it can be a challenge for tourists and visitors to Grand County to find their destinations in the sprawling forests and mountainsides of Middle Park. But the significance of those inconveniences are drastically overshadowed by the reality that our local first responders also deal with these same problematic dynamics, which can impact response times when seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
The Grand County Addressing Task Force (GCATF) is working to rectify this problem though. The GCATF was formed in Nov. last year after local realtors in Grand County raised concerns about how Geographic Information System (GIS) data was recorded and stored in Grand County Government databases, which had a formatting system that was different from the system employed by many other counties.
All privately owned properties have specific GIS data listing the official address of the property and other details on a given piece of property. Realtors, assessors and others working in the real estate field use GIS data extensively. Officials from the Grand County GIS Office and the Assessors Office have been working hard to reenter addressing data into the County databases under the new format. The work has since been completed, but it was a mountain to climb with roughly 27,000 individual records that required adjustment.
Formatting issues are not the only problems with addressing in Grand County though. Because of the hodge-podge nature of subdivision development and the large lot sizes of many properties in Grand County many homes are built in relatively close proximity to multiple different county roads; possible even boarding multiple county road. This allows homeowners or developers to construct driveways and egress routes from a variety of options.
While each of these homes has an official technical address, which can be found through the Grand County Assessor’s Office website, their commonly used addresses can be different from their official address depending on multiple factors. When this occurs it can create a significant problem for emergency first responders. Additionally roads in multiple different subdivisions throughout the county have the same common names, adding another layer of confusion.
The Grand County Dispatch/Communications Center receives local emergency calls and directs first responders to the scene utilizing the address given by callers and by comparing that data to GIS information in Grand County databases. Occasionally though first responders will arrive at a given address only to find they cannot access the citizen or home experiencing the emergency from the road they are on. Such circumstances give officials an opportunity to rectify the contradictions between the County’s addressing information and the common addresses provided by callers, but unfortunately, short of an emergency call there is no formal mechanism to double check for such problems.
As such local officials encourage property owners in Grand County to double check the Assessors Office addressing data for their property and compare it to the common address for the property. Additionally the Grand County Wildfire Council is attempting to fix the issue by selling specifically made address signs that can be placed on a home or at the end of a driveway. The signs help direct emergency vehicles and provide accurate addressing data, based on Grand County GIS data. The signs can be purchased from the Grand County Wildfire Council by contacting your local fire district.
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When the East Troublesome Fire raged across Grand County last October, thousands of people were evacuated from the US Highway 34 corridor in 90 minutes, thanks in part to the preparation of evacuation maps.