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December 02, 2016
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A road by any other name

Lou Barr and his family own the house on Segar Road that now houses offices of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. Recently, signs went up indicating the road is called Segar B. Rosenberg Road. That prompted Barr to write to the Bethel Town Board requesting that the Rosenberg name be deleted from the official name.

The letter, which was read by supervisor Dan Sturm at the meeting on May 22, explained that some time in the late 1940s the town board posted signs at either end of the road calling it Segar Road. A short time later, the Rosenbergs, who owned a hotel on the road, posted their own signs at the end of the road, calling it Rosenberg Road. Barr’s letter said that over time the Segar name came to dominate, and the Rosenberg name faded from use.

Barr wrote that all residents and organizations now on the road exclusively use the name Segar, and would like the name to be officially shortened. He sent a petition with 13 signatures of residents who live on and near the road.

After reading the letter, Sturm explained that a portion of the road was named Segar in 1934; however, the town officially adopted the name Segar & Rosenberg for the entire road in 1950. Council member Lillian Hendrickson said that she had researched the matter and “911 knows it as Segar & Rosenberg Road. Everybody I’ve spoken to that have lived here for I don’t know how many years has known it as Segar & Rosenberg; it’s been that way for 63 years. Maybe it was named that way to honor someone.”

Councilwoman Vicky Simpson said, “It has been Segar & Rosenberg Road, it must have been to honor the Segars and the Rosenbergs, and I’m not really sure why we’re looking to change this right now.”

Sturm said the current sign, which says “Segar B. Rosenberg,” is incorrect in that the “B” was inserted in place of the ampersand.

Council member Bernie Cohen said “I really don’t know anyone named Rosenberg on that road.” He said if there is no opposition, perhaps it should be changed back to Segar.

Council member Denise Frangipane said the request for the change is coming from people who live on and near the road. She said, “People feel about their road name the same way they feel about their own name, because they live there.” She said when she was a child riding the bus to school, the road was always posted on both ends as only Segar, and it was posted that way up until a couple of weeks ago when the new signs went up.

She said more research was needed before a decision is reached on the matter, but because there is no record of why the name was changed in 1950, the board should respect the wishes of the people who live on the road.

Sturm said he was concerned about making the change because “911 would have to change, the town maps would have to change.” He also said a search on Google on the double names turns up on a location “in a field where there is no road.”

A member of the community said maybe the Rosenberg name was added because the couple’s son was killed in a car accident near the road. But that happened in 1963, so the two things were likely not connected.

Code enforcement officer B.J. Gettel said, “You have a second Segar Road in the Town of Bethel. According to 911, you can’t have two Segar Roads.”

But name of that road is actually George Segar Rd. Frangipane said, “It’s like we have a Stephenson Rd., and we have a Jim Stephenson Road.”

The issue was tabled until a future date.