Old utility poles get removed in W. Islip

A double utility pole. (Aug. 29, 2012) A double utility pole. (Aug. 29, 2012) Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

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Judy Cartwright Judy Cartwright

Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column ...

The poles wrap onto a side street, Beach Drive, the site of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center. Earlier this year, about two dozen new poles were installed along three blocks, but the old poles stayed in place. As Watchdog readers know well, that's not unusual.

But so many in one place? That got our attention.

West Islip resident Bob Maher contacted us in July, months after he'd asked both the Long Island Power Authority and Verizon to remove the old poles.

We can report progress: Within a week of our inquiries, removal of the old poles was under way. And it looks like almost all of them will be gone by fall.

Part of the delay in getting rid of old poles involves the various utilities that have equipment attached to them.

"There's a mixed bag out there," Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said. "Some of the poles, we'll transfer our facilities" -- that's utility-speak for wires and other equipment -- "and remove. Some of the poles we are going to transfer off and turn the pole back to LIPA, because they still have their facilities on them."

LIPA spokesman Mark Gross said the replacement poles are part of a "major reliability project" to strengthen service and increase capacity in parts of Islip Town, primarily Fire Island. In all, 60 poles are being replaced, he said.

LIPA removed its equipment from all but six of those in April, he said. After our call, LIPA transferred its equipment from three of those, clearing the way for their removal.

"We hope to have the remaining three poles done shortly, as we are in the process of coordinating with customers on planned outages," he said.

Bonomo said the remaining poles will be removed in the fall "as they become ready."

And, if you're keeping score: The typical practice these days is for LIPA to install utility poles and for Verizon to remove them, Bonomo said.

Dealing with West Bay Shore eyesore

Another in the occasional report on neighborhood eyesores:

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THE EYESORE. Vacant house on almost an acre on Manor Lane, West Bay Shore

THE HISTORY. The property has been unoccupied for several years, according to neighbors.

WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE ON A RECENT VISIT. The house was barely visible behind overgrown grass, weeds and shrubs. Windows had been boarded up, and one shutter was hanging loose. Soffits were in disrepair and appeared to have gaps. Photos of the backyard show vegetation extending into the swimming pool, where the shallow water was covered by a layer of green.

THE STATUS. Neighbors told Watchdog they have lodged many complaints with the Town of Islip in an effort to get the yard cleaned up and the pool drained and sprayed for mosquitoes. The town cleaned the property last summer after the town board adopted a resolution to authorize the work, town spokesman Christopher Arlotta said, and the cost was added to the property's tax bill. On Aug. 14, the town board approved a resolution to authorize work to again "secure the premises and clean up the property," one of 12 such measures on that day's agenda to address unkempt sites. Neighbors reported the property was cleaned up the week of Aug. 20, but stagnant water remained in the pool.

Neighbor John Mihalo pointed out that just a few hundred yards away, the county's Gardiners Park has been closed from dusk to dawn because West Nile virus was found in a mosquito sample there.

WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK? Less than promising. The town has a blight ordinance, similar to the one that Huntington has used to take a more hard-line approach. Asked if this site has qualified as a blighted property under the measure, Arlotta responded that Islip prefers to address eyesore properties through cleanup resolutions.

"The Town will continue to utilize the tools authorized by NY State law . . .  for clean ups/board ups of any property that is not in code compliance," another town public information official, Inez Birbiglia, said in a written statement. "We must remember that property owners have rights, and gaining access to properties or the types of actions we can take regarding those properties is limited."

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