Frank Young is very unpopular in Prince George's County.He believes in logic and hates confusion. He believes in order and hates choas.
In pursuit of these ideals, Young, who is an official of the county planning board, runs around the county changing street names.
There just should't be three separate Chesnut Avenues, he reasons. Or two Prince George's Avenues. Or heaven-knows-how-many First Streets. "We had to straighten out the mess," said Young. "I've made about 780 changes, and I've got about 400 to go.
But he may never get there. After 15 years of eliminating the duplication in county street names, after reducing the number of Oak Lanes fron 12 to 2, and the number of Chestnut Avenues from 8 to 3, Young is suddenly in danger of losing the authority to do his job.
Just before Christmas, six members of the Prince George's County delegation to the state legislature proposed two bills that would take the name-changing rower out of the hands of the Prince George's County Planning Board - and out of the hands of Frank Young. "I really don't think this is essential," said Frank B. Pesci (D-Prince George's), the chief sponsor of the legislation. "I'm sorry we didn't catch this a couple of years ago. We have to tell the park and planning commission to find something else to do - they can make the parks more beautiful or something."
Ralph Esposito agrees whole-heartedly. For the last 20 years, Esposito has lived at 3011 Prince George's Ave. in Kentland. Last fall he was told that as of Feb. 1, his address would be 2605 Firehouse Rd.
"It stinks. It just downright stinks, and you put that down and put my name right after it, said Esposito, 53, a retired federal employee.
"They say that there's a Prince George's Avenue here and one in Cheverly. So what? That's Cheverly. This is Kent Village. Why should that make any difference?" Esposito complained.
It makes a lot of difference, Frank Young believes. To explain the difference, he repeats the story that has been passed on from one chief of house numbers and street names - his official title - to the next for the past couple of decades.
Back about 25 years ago, Young said, a baby swallowed a pin. The baby lived on Oak Lane. Its mother called the fire department for an ambulance. The trouble was there were 12 Oak Lanes in the county, and the ambulance went to the wrong one.
"The baby died," Young said. "And all of a sudden there was a big hue and cry about duplicat streets." In 1958, the state gave the planning board authority to eliminate duplicatation - and change street names.
When Young took over the House Numbers and Street Names Department in 1962, he decided to start with the southern part of the county and work north, changing names as he went.
One result of this tactic was that much of his time was spent working in rural areas, where there were fewer people to protest his actions. Then last fall, he started changing street names in Cheverly.
"Bob (Cheverly Mayor Robert W. O'Connor) got all upset about it, recalled Del. Pesci, who represents the northern part of the town. "It's symptomatic of the whole business of government interference in the lives of little people," he added.
"My contituents were very vocal. They said, "Why don't they leave me alone?"
One of the worries of people like Ralph Esposito is that there will be more confusions after tha names change than ever could have been before. "I've got a friend in Landover who had this happen, and their mail is still all mixed up," he grumbled.
Young found that gripe unfair. "We work very closely with the Post Office and with Social Security and all the big bulk mailers." He sighned sllightly, and said, "Only those people who see the overall picture could understand the problem."