Dr. Don Schwenker

Dr. Don Schwenker

Changing a street name could cause paperwork hassles and expenses for some Jackson County residents. Not changing it could slow progress for the new hospital and cause delays and confusion for local emergency response vehicles.

As a result, a split Maquoketa City Council rejected Jackson County Regional Health Center’s application to change the name of 17th Street to Hospital Drive. 

Councilmen Ronald Horan Jr., Kevin Kuhlman and Mark Lyon opposed the measure while Jacob Baker, Erica Barker and Jessica Kean voted for it. 

Mayor Don Schwenker implored the council to reconsider its decision during a future meeting.

“This has legal ramifications to the hospital,” the mayor said. “We have given the opinion, or at least the illusion, to the hospital that we indeed supported the name change. … The “no” vote “really kind of paints us in a bad way.

“This has legal ramifications to the hospital,” Schwenker said.

The proposed Hospital Drive name came from Jackson County Regional Health Center, which is building a new hospital off 17th Street on the south end of Maquoketa near Prairie Creek Golf Course and Wal-Mart. But the issue goes back to last February when the council voted to annex that property. Annexation, generally speaking, means the city added land to its footprint by expanding the city limits.

The annexation made 17th Street part of the city and brought land for the new Jackson County Regional Health Center into Maquoketa city limits. That move allows the hospital to hook up to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure.

With the new hospital facility now under construction, administrators need a permanent address so they can receive building supplies, hook up electricity, etc., according to hospital executive Curt Coleman.

“We need to obtain a street address to file for insurance, for our contractors, to instruct our suppliers where to deliver supplies,” Coleman said. It’s also a requirement to get electricity to the site.

Coleman was instructed by the city to apply to the city’s Planning and Zoning Board to change the street’s name. The name Hospital Drive seemed like the simplest name to help direct people to the JCRHC, Coleman explained.

However, changing the street name would cause undue hardship to the people living on 17th Street, according to Mary Hamann who owns property there. 

“We’ll have to change all the paperwork, all the addresses, and everything else, and there are only four people on that road,” Hamann said, noting that such address changes come with fees for the property owners.

Hamann asked that the name remain 17th Street.

Maquoketa Police Chief Brad Koranda had suggested the city change the street name, which he said would then align the newly annexed properties with the current city address grid. That alignment aids emergency personnel, city employees, etc., when they need to find an address, the chief said.

 “We’re looking into the future if anything else is developed out there, the hospital may put any other buildings out there that have to be addressed, and that’s why we’re looking ahead. We thought this was the opportunity to do that public safety-wise,” Koranda explained.

Now is “the most painless time” to change the street name, before more development occurs in that area, Schwenker said.

“I guess it’s not painless to us,” Hamann replied.

Councilman Horan said he voted against Hospital Drive because of Hamann’s concern.

Councilman Lyon said he did not oppose changing the name of the street as much as he did the proposed name.

“The East David Street suggestion was OK,” Lyon said. The council in recent months talked about possible new names for the street and one was East David because it would be an extension of an existing city street.

“We have to make a decision at some point — whether we don’t change it, or we make it East David, or we make it Hospital Drive,” Schwenker said.

The next steps

Coleman said the hospital needs a permanent street address “to use for legal reasons” and said the actual name is of little consequence.

If the hospital doesn’t get its permanent address soon, “there will eventually be problems,” Coleman said. “It won’t hold up our [construction] schedule too much now, but we do need an address for certain [construction] supplies to be delivered to the site or it could become a problem.”

As it stands, only a councilman who voted “no” (Horan, Kuhlman or Lyon) or Josh Collister (who did not attend the Sept. 3 meeting) can ask to put the name change back on the council agenda for reconsideration. This is standard voting procedure.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Board must make a recommendation to change the street name. The hospital would have to apply again for a different name change.

If the council does not overturn its Sept. 3 decision to accept the name Hospital Drive, that name cannot be reconsidered in the future. However, the East David Street name could be recommended to the council, which would have to decide whether to approve that name change.

“The name of the street is not as important as the blocks, or the grid, for us,” Koranda explained. 

“If we do nothing, then we’ll live with that, but if we do something, we want it in the 100 and 200 blocks,” he said, referring to a numbering system that would make the addresses consistent with others in the city.