Residents of Anita Place, a quiet side street in Amityville Village, and Anita Place, a cul-de-sac 2 miles away in Amity Harbor, are asking the world to recognize that they are not one and the same.
Mail, Chinese food deliveries and out-of-town visitors end up on the wrong street with some regularity, they say, a problem many believe is caused partly by a shared 11701 ZIP code and similar address numbers, which start at 1 and rise into the 20s. At least one resident says the confusion could put lives in danger by delaying emergency responders.
"It's just a matter of when, not if," said Tony Soares, 72, a retired Verizon worker and veteran member of the Amityville Fire Department.
Barbara Bender, chief of operations for Babylon Central Fire and Rescue, which handles emergency dispatch for 10 fire departments in the town, said that such a mix-up would be extremely unlikely because of the way emergency calls are routed and because dispatch procedure includes several layers of address confirmation.
Duplicate names abound on the South Shore: There are at least five streets with the name Ireland between Amityville and Brentwood, for example, and Farmingdale and West Babylon each have another Anita.
But many of these streets use different ZIP codes, or are differentiated with North, South, East or West appendages.
U.S. Postal Service representatives said changing the ZIP code for one of the two Anitas -- for example, changing Amity Harbor's to 11726, so it joins the rest of Copiague -- would be difficult and ultimately inefficient.
So town and village officials earlier this year proposed changing the name of Amityville's to Anita Place West and Amity Harbor's to Anita Place East, a Solomonic solution that would probably inconvenience, at least slightly, residents of all 27 homes on both streets.
Amityville Village Attorney Richard Handler, who favors the move, said the inconvenience would be outweighed by gains to safety and property protection. Most of the changes would have to be made with utility companies, he said, and few residents would have to change property deeds, which rarely rely on street addresses.
Response has been mixed. Some have amounted to "don't change my street, change the other street," said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. Another idea put forward by some residents would be to add a digit or digits to the street addresses on one of the Anitas.
Town officials are still collecting information, he said. Village officials have scheduled a meeting June 6 to consider the matter.
Handler's daughter, Kaitlin Handler, 31, a vintage furniture buyer who lives on Amityville's Anita Place, said she would support any solution "as long as it helps ensure the safety of both areas' residents."
Andy D'Ambrosio, 68, a vice president of the Amity Harbor Civic Association -- and the intended recipient of a package of Omaha Steaks that was once misdelivered to Amityville, where it sat on a sidewalk for five days before someone noticed it -- said many of his neighbors supported the East-West solution, if without much enthusiasm.
"It's the lesser of two evils," he said.