Town Council Getting Serious About Removing Double Utility Poles

An example of a double utility pole on Main Street in Watertown

Charlie Breitrose

An example of a double utility pole on Main Street in Watertown

Members of the Town Council are sick and tired about the double utility poles that are a common sight around Watertown, and threatened to deny new utility and cable permits if they are not removed.

On Tuesday, the Council heard four requests for petitions from utilities looking install new lines or new poles around town. Two of them were for the new CVS under construction in Coolidge Square, and both were on double poles.

The double poles go up when one pole is old or damaged, and the wires have not been transferred to the new pole. This has long been an issue for the Council. In July 2010, members of the Council sent a letter to Verizon requesting they remove the then 214 double poles.

About half the poles are the responsibility of Eversource (formerly NStar) and half fall under Verizon. Along with the wires for electricity and phone, there are cable television wires for two companies – Comcast and RCN – and the fire alarm wires from the Watertown Fire Department. There is a database of the wires, and which must be moved for each pole.

When Verizon and Eversource came in this week, Councilor Susan Falkoff said she wants them to take care of the extra poles. Councilor Vincent Piccirilli, who often brings up the issue when utilities come in for permits, said he would like to see the double poles removed on those two projects.

Council President Mark Sideris said the Council could delay the approval until a plan to remove the double poles is submitted.

Eastside Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she wants to see the poles removed, but she worries about the impact on the construction.

“How would delaying this effect the project?” Kounelis said. “I am not siding with the developer, but I do not want to impact it or to stop the project from moving forward.”

Sideris suggested rather that denying the applications that the Council send a letter asking for an explanation and a plan for removing with the double poles.

Falkoff said she has waited long enough.

“We have heard explanations and promises but I am ready to be boiling mad,” Falkoff said.

In order not to delay the project, but to send a strong message, Sideris suggested allowing the current request, but put the utilities on notice.

“A number of other developments will be in this position,” Sideris said. “We can send a letter saying we will bot be entertaining that type of request until they issue a list of poles with a plan to deal with them.”

The Council unanimously approved the four applications, and also approved sending the letter to Eversource and Verizon.

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