BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Congers – Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack announced at a press conference on June 19 that he and the Clarkstown Town Board would be imposing a new law to encourage utility companies to clear out hazardous double utility poles which obstruct drivers’ line of sight and pose a risk of collapse.
“Our goal is not to be punitive,” Gromack explained. “We want do this cooperatively, but we don’t want to go through this see-saw event where we get angry, we bring it to [the utilities’] attention, we back off, and then it builds up over three years.”
Though the town could not act on poles on county or state roads over which it has no jurisdiction, it was able to impose stricter penalties on non-compliant utilities. The fines could reach up to $2,500 for failure to obtain road opening permits for work on poles, up from an older $250 fine. Once they receive the permit, they have 90 days to remove the pole before they begin to receive a $1000 fine for every 30 days they do not address the problem.
Clarkstown Deputy Town Attorney Jeffrey Millman explained the town’s incentivized permit process will allow it to track problem areas and work with utilities to systematically fix all poles over which it has jurisdiction.
The town have already set goals with Verizon, Cablevision and Orange & Rockland for the removal of 25 poles per month. Millman also reported a joint task force was created to address the issue and utilities have agreed to begin work.
“What we’re looking to do is get voluntary compliance,” Millman stated.
Inventories of older poles began prior to 2008 and significantly reduced their numbers through voluntary cooperative efforts between the town and utilities, but doubling quickly returned, prompting the town’s action to incentivize removals. In effect, “Operation Double Pole” was launched in 2008, identifying about 450 instances of the problem on town roads.