Letter to the Editor

City's street number effort heavy-handed

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dear Editor,

There are many things that our city does for us that I am grateful for and one of them is providing for first responders in case of fire or crime.

It is important for them to be able to locate an address quickly when time is of the essence. In February, our city began a process to identify the many residential and commercial buildings in our city that did not have address numbers displayed or were incorrectly displayed.

I received a letter concerning one of the properties that I own and it was pointed out that it did not have address numbers on it. The reason was quite simple. After a hail storm about five years ago, I elected to replace all of the siding on it and whoever removed the numbers forgot to replace them. This project, costing thousands of dollars, was done with a building permit and the building inspector did not do his job by calling this to our attention.

The letter from the City of McCook proceeded to explain the 2012 International Residential Code, 2012 International Property Maintenance Code and the 2012 International Fire Code as to how premises identification is to be done on all new and existing properties.

Let me just say that I heartily agree with the goal of this endeavor by our city. I don’t agree at all with their methods. The letter ends with a threat that if not complied with in 30 days, that citations will be issued.

It was signed by the Building Inspector, Fire Chief and Police Chief. This is unnecessary and uncalled for to accomplish this worthy goal. Someone once said speak softly and carry a big stick.

The city should have started a six-month campaign that began with an educational blitz on the various public media. This is important because, while many of these letters were sent out, the majority of people in McCook did not receive one because their addresses are in compliance and they still do not know that displaying an address is mandatory according to the various building codes even though it is logical. Service clubs and church groups should be enlisted to help install numbers for those who are not able to do so for themselves.

Even though basic address numbers are inexpensive, these same groups could raise money to pay for those who could not afford them. Names of local merchants who stock address numbers should be publicized to help citizens locate them. Local retailers who stock address numbers should have been notified that this campaign was going to start.

I talked with one retailer who said they did not know about this until people started coming into their store to buy them. Now they are out of some of the numbers until more supplies are received.

After this six month campaign where speaking softly methods are utilized, the city could then get out its big stick to force compliance as it is doing now. The current campaign requires city employees to drive up and down every street, report violations, someone in the city offices to determine who the owners of the property are, and then more personnel to send letters out.

I am sure these people could have been utilized in a more productive way that would make better use of our tax dollars. McCook’s population has declined and the City of McCook needs to understand that, if citizens are to be raised here, live here, work, and retire here, they need to be treated with kindness and respect whenever possible.

This is not the kind of matter that should make it necessary to send threatening letters to people who, for the most part, are very willing to abide by the laws of this community.


Dr. Mike Nielsen

McCook, Neb.

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