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Hempstead officials seek to stop plan for above-ground utility poles

Hempstead Town Supervisor holds a press conference Saturday,

Hempstead Town Supervisor holds a press conference Saturday, March 28, 2015, criticizing a plan to replace an underground cable with 80-foot "monster poles." Credit: Uli Seit

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and other elected officials called on PSEG Long Island Saturday to halt the proposed replacement of a buried transmission cable with an above-ground series of utility poles in East Garden City.

Murray was joined in the hamlet by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) and other local officials near Commercial Avenue, less than a mile from where the poles would go.

The project would include removing a damaged transmission cable buried along Commercial Avenue on the LIRR right of way. It would be replaced with power lines strung along 21 utility poles.

The utility poles would be taller and wider than usual and able to withstand 130-mph hurricane winds, and the majority would stand about 65 to 70 feet above ground, but some would reach as high as 79 feet, PSEG officials said.

"The best thing that could happen is if PSEG scraps its plans in its entirety," Murray said. "That's what we're fighting for."

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the company determined the poles were the most cost-effective, expeditious option.

"No decisions have been made," Weir said. "We put together a good faith proposal and are happy to continue our open and transparent dialogue with elected officials and the residents to come up with the right solutions."

An informational meeting on the project is set for Wednesday at 333 Earle Ovington Blvd. in Uniondale from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the LIPA boardroom.

Weir said officials put off Wednesday's tentative start of construction "to get feedback from the residents and re-present it to her [Murray]."

"We won't do anything until after we come back to her," he said.

Residents in East Hampton and Port Washington have raised similar objections to PSEG transmission-line projects.

Christine Mullaney, president of the Eastern Property Owners' Association of Garden City, said she'd like more information. "But my concern right now is: Is this going to be the trend for the future," she said. "Are they going to be putting more and more lines above ground as opposed to burying them, which seems to me would be a better thing to do considering the vulnerability of Long Island with its storms."


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