NEWS | July 26, 2016

Naming the Streets of Naval Weapons Station Housing

By Mass Communication Specialist First Class Sean M. Stafford Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Tim Harlan was given an assignment by his supervisor, Frank Walters, to act as team lead in naming the streets for Naval Weapons Station Charleston housing neighborhoods.

The need for naming the streets came from the Naval Weapons Station Charleston Fire Department. The department had a map of the area with buildings annotated but no directions on how to get places in case of an emergency.

"Fire services response times were not adequate to respond to a fire emergencies," said Harlan. "There was confusion on how to get to the desired locations."

At first, the idea was to place directional arrows on the street maps, another was to color code arrows to different locations on the map and, finally, the decision was made to name the streets.  Naming the streets turned out to be more difficult than expected.
"This is where it began to get difficult, I was contacted by the U.S. Postal Service and informed that any street names would require USPS approval," Harlan said. "This was so as not to duplicate any name within the same geographic location."

Harlan met with a USPS representative and presented him with the plan, maps, proposed names and locations. The representative informed Harlan he would get back with him.  In the meantime, Harlan was contacted by the office of the Berkeley County Housing Commission and informed that they would also need to review and approve plans for placement of street signs.

"I received notification from the USPS they had reviewed and tentatively approved the plan with the exception of about a dozen of the more than 140 names," Harlan said. "I had a list of additional names, substituted them and gave it back for review.  It was not long after that they mailed the package back to me with a confirmed approval.  I immediately resubmitted the package to Berkeley Housing and, shortly thereafter, received a confirmation I was good to go! It took some explaining on my part for getting them past some names i.e. Missile Hall Road."

Finally the names were ready for submission to the then Commanding Officer. The CO was a huge Jules Verne fan so he decided to substitute some of the names with others. Thus...Nemo Way!  This of course meant the process for name approval needed to begin again with the USPS and Berkeley County.  Eventually, the program was ready for a test. Several streets were stenciled and the fire department made exercise visit. However it was determined that it was too difficult for the driver of the fire truck to look down on the road for street names resulting in the use the same concept used in neighborhoods - street signs on poles.  

The street naming program, initially estimated to be no longer than a two week process, turned into an almost two year odyssey. It started in fall of 1988 and was completed in 1989. Full implemented was achieved in 1990.