Town Council Puts Eversource On Notice About Double Poles in Watertown

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Charlie Breitrose

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

An example of a double utility pole on Main Street in Watertown from 2016

Tired of waiting for Eversource to take action needed to remove double utility poles in Watertown, the Town Council told the utility this week it will not consider requests for Eversource projects in Town until the poles are dealt with.

Every few meetings, a utility comes to the Town Council for approval to do work in Watertown, typically putting in an underground trench for wires. Tuesday, Eversource had two such requests, but one councilor brought up his frustration about the lack of action on removing double poles, particularly one problematic one in his district.

When a new utility pole is installed, the old one is attached to the new one until the wires are transferred to the new one. There is an order for which wires get moved first depending on where they are on the pole, and who owns the poles. About half in Watertown are owned by Eversource Energy (formerly NStar) and half by Verizon.

The poles have electrical lines, phone wires, cable television wires for two companies – Comcast and RCN – and the fire alarm wires that serve the Watertown Fire Department.

On Tuesday, Councilor Ken Woodland gave Eversource a warning because he was frustrated by a double pole on Sweets Court, a small side street off Waltham Street.

“Our DPW reached out to Eversource to start this process five months ago and apparently it is not underway, and it seems like we are not getting any good responses,” Woodland said. “Eversource needs to respond. It looks horrible, having one pole hanging off of another pole that was recently installed. It looks like it is going to fall on the house right next to it.”

Other Councilors pointed to other long-term issues with poles in Watertown. Councilor Anthony Donato said there was a street light on North Beacon Street that doesn’t work because it is not getting any power from Eversource. He said it has not been working for about seven years. Councilor Caroline Bays said there is also a leaning double pole located on Morse Street.

Woodland went on to tell the Eversource representative that until the pole is fixed he would invoke his Charter Privilege for any Eversource project that comes before the Council at future meetings. Charter Privilege allows a Councilor to stop debate on any item and table it until the next meeting. In effect, it delays the item by two weeks until the next meeting. The Charter Privilege cannot be used more than once on the same item.

Council President Mark Sideris went a step farther.

“Please be advised that as the person that sets the agendas, until at least these (three) issues are rectified, no Eversource requests will be placed on a Council agenda,” Sideris said.

The Eversource representative said that she would inform her supervisors about the issues in Watertown, and about the Council’s warnings.

The Council approved the two Eversource permits on Tuesday’s agenda: one for replacing more than 240 feet of underground electrical wires on Templeton Parkway, and one for placing 17 feet of electrical wire underground on Belmont Street near Duff Street to hook up to a National Grid Control Box.

The double pole issue is not a new one. In 2016, the Town Council raised the issue with the utilities that have wires on the poles, threatening to deny their requests for permits to do work in town.

8 thoughts on “Town Council Puts Eversource On Notice About Double Poles in Watertown

  1. So if something bothers a town councilor-they make it happen. And if Eversource wants to request a new project to put the wires underground- so we won’t need anymore poles in town-the request will be denied? Makes sense. Backwards business as usual in Watertown.

  2. About time! The utility companies have walked all over this town for years. I still can’t believe that we allowed all those new condos to be built on Arsenal only to be completely covered by ugly poles and wires. It was an opportune time to put all of it underground much like neighboring towns have.

  3. The Council needs to take a good look at itself for the town’s potholes and torn-up streets before it badgers Eversource.

    How many millions in damage do potholes and torn-up streets cost motorists every year?

  4. Thank you so much, Ken for looking out for Swetts Court! Ken helped get a new pole installed on our street over a year ago because the existing pole looked like The Leaning Tower of Pisa. He has been trying to get the utilities to transfer over their wires and remove the old pole ever since. Thank you for being so persistent about this issue!

  5. There is a horrible double pole on corner of Palfrey and Forest. They are all over town. Please hold Eversource accountable for removing these.

  6. There is double pole on French Street that has been there for over a year without any wires moved onto the pole – its just standing there with the old pole cut off at the bottom and bolted to the new pole. I see these problems in a number of places around town.

  7. The time for poles has passed. All new construction projects should require underground wiring. A plan should be put in place to move a percentage of current wires underground each year. Even as little as 5% would help improve the beauty of the city and the reliability of the service. To force the point, the utilities should need to put 20% of the budgeted amount each year into an escrow account a year ahead. The city would only release the escrow upon completion of that portion of the plan.

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