The symphony of streets, lanes, courts and terraces carries such names as Maestro, Crescendo, Lyric and Opera, because the builder who developed the Silver Spring neighborhood four years ago wanted to express his love of music. Fred H. Flaharty said it was okay.
For seven years, Flaharty has been in charge of naming Montgomery County's streets. An employe of the county planning board, he oversees the selection of about 30 new names a month and administers street name changes and address assignments. Most of the names are suggested by developers, but Flaharty has veto power and turns down about half the entries. He can also name streets himself.
Flaharty takes his job seriously and said he has easily resisted the lure to memorialize his own name, his hobbies, or a favorite pet in green-and-white-on-metal. "I don't really play games with it," he said.
Flaharty asks builders to submit twice the number of names needed for a new development. If any useable names are left over, they are kept for future use by the same developer in a reserve list of 1,200 selections.
Flaharty also keeps a personal emergency list of about 150 names for when he comes up short. The list, culled from a variety of sources, including newspapers and library references, includes such reserve choices as "Honeymoon," "Calliope" and "Frog Pond."
Flaharty said he thinks some of the existing street names are "ridiculous, but once you tell someone you live on Frog Pond, they're not going to forget it."
Flaharty follows several guidelines when considering new names. Using a computer, he weeds out duplications, names with more than 18 letters that would not fit on a sign, sound-alikes (such as Market and Marquette or Shadow and Chateau), overused suffixes and prefixes (such as north and south or Lake and Hill) and streets with numbers in a name such as Tenbrook or Three Hills.
Number names or sound-a-likes can too easily be misunderstood over radio transmissions by emergency rescue personnel, Flaharty said. He also tries to avoid names that will invite theft of the $67 signs, such as "Robert Lane" or "Lisa Way" or those of well-known personalities.
Flaharty said he probably would not approve a "Redskins Drive," since a Dallas Avenue sign in Silver Spring was regularly lifted from its post during the height of the Redskins/Dallas football rivalry a few years ago. A California community, Flaharty noted, finally had to change the name of its Richard M. Nixon Parkway after the sign was stolen one too many times.
A name is sometimes changed if an existing street is cut in two by a new road or development, leaving two separate streets with the same name. For easy identification by emergency personnel, one of the streets will be given a new name.
Changes may also be made if a name is considered objectionable. A few years ago, a group of Potomac residents asked that a street with the word Arian be changed. The street is now named Brookstone Court. "It just had the connotation of the Aryan race," Flaharty said.
Also in Potomac several years ago, a builder asked that a road called U.S. Navy Truck Road that ran through his development be changed. "I mean, how would you like to buy a house in Potomac on a street called U.S. Navy Truck Road?" Flaharty asked.
Flaharty had to compromise with the U.S. Navy on that one, because the road runs into the David W. Taylor Naval Ship Research and Development Center. He named the road Eggert Drive, after a former officer of the center.
Flaharty said that most of his time is taken up with assigning addresses. His biggest headaches come, he said, when a high-rise building with many ground-level shops is built on the former site of a single-family house and a single address. "It's like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle," he said.