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New York Seeks Input On 518 Area Code Change

Lucas Willard

At the Crandall Library in Glens Falls, users of the 518 area code were asked a tough question: because the combination of seven-digit numbers is running out, given the growing ubiquity of mobile phones, how would you like to see a new area code incorporated?

The information session and public hearing Tuesday night were the first of several scheduled across the region over the next few days.

The state Public Service Commission says there are two options. The first would incorporate what is called an overlay, meaning that a new area code will be superimposed into the existing 518 zone.

The second option is a geographic split. In one section, customers would keep the 518. In others, a new area code would be established. Customers with the new code would keep their current seven-digit number.

Small business owner Bill Wildermuth favors the second option.

“I’m kind of leaning toward the geographic split, in that I think ultimately down road over a period of time it will be more beneficial and less confusing,” said Wildermuth.

Wildermuth said it would be more efficient for a business to keep the seven-digit number along with its neighbors.

Cindy Trombley said a new area code could give a new regional identity.

“Area code 235 is unassigned. It could be assigned to this area. That translates to A-D-K. We could possibly have an area code that lets people know where we area and who we are,” said Trombley.

Trombley cited how Daytona Beach, Florida, faced with a similar problem, adopted the 386 area code. Spelled out: F-U-N.

Speaking on behalf of Queensbury residents, supervisor John Strough said the vast majority of constituents who have spoken to him have been in favor of the overlay option.

“And some members of the public have shared with me because they’ve come from other areas, athat they’ve lived through the geographic split and they’ve called it, and it’s a repetitious word, a nightmare,” said Strough.

Hartford supervisor Dana Haff said residents of the Washington County town also favor the overlay 2 to 1.

Maria Custer said her “severely handicapped” brother was affected by the creation of the 845 area code in 2000, when the 914 code of the Hudson Valley was split. She said the disabled and seniors would face a number of challenges, including needing to change emergency contact numbers.

“Those populations had years and years and years of hardship to adapt to the geographic split, so I am in favor of the overlay,” said Custer.

The state says the 518 area code could run out of new numbers in three years.

Additional meetings will be held Thursday, July 28th at Colonie Town Hall and Ichabod Crane High School in Valatie; on Tuesday, August 2nd, in Gloversville; Wednesday, August 3rd in Plattsburgh, and Thursday, August 4th in Lake Placid.

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