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New Hyde Park weighs forcing removal of old utility poles

Double utility poles are pictured at the southwest

Double utility poles are pictured at the southwest corner of Jericho Turnpike and Covert Avenue in New Hyde Park Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

A Town of North Hempstead ordinance requiring utility companies to remove decommissioned utility poles has inspired members of the New Hyde Park Village Board to consider enacting a similar measure.

The North Hempstead edict requires the removal of so-called double poles -- old poles that remain standing next to new ones. Last month, town officials reported that 187 of 217 double poles had been removed between Great Neck and Port Washington. The law was passed in September and applies only to town roads and town rights of way.

"We saw that the town's law seems to have been effective on the removal of double poles," New Hyde Park Mayor Bob Lofaro said last week in a telephone interview. "We have 88 [double] poles around the village that in some cases have existed for more than two years. North Hempstead had success so we said, 'Let's emulate that.' "

The board will meet Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Village Hall to vote on the measure.

Lofaro said the poles are being used by PSEG Long Island, Verizon and Cablevision. "The last utility to move their equipment off of a [old] pole is responsible for removing that pole," he added.

Elizabeth Flagler, a spokeswoman for PSEG, said the utility poles throughout Long Island are owned by Verizon and the Long Island Power Authority. PSEG manages LIPA's electric system, and Flagler said Cablevision uses the poles to connect its facilities. Cablevision owns Newsday.

"We do agree double poles are unattractive, and we have no problem with New Hyde Park adopting an ordinance," Flagler said. She said that if there is a question of whether PSEG is responsible for any of them, the utility's workers would assess the situation.

Verizon spokesman John Bonomo noted there are many "tenants" on a pole, including streetlights and municipal fire alarms. "For poles to get removed in a timely manner, it depends on all tenants on a pole removing their facilities in a timely manner."

Lofaro said the village wants to work with those responsible for the double poles to get them taken down, but added that if they fail to do so, stiff penalties would be assessed. First-time offenders could pay $500 for each day an old pole remains standing after a deadline for its removal is set. For a second offense, the cost would be $1,000 a day.

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