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Old Way for an Upgrade

Upset Over Utility Poles On Glendale Block

For years, the only street fixtures lining a four-block stretch of 77th Avenue in Glendale were the customary city steel streetlamps-but, much to the chagrin of residents, the landscape changed last week.

Reportedly, Verizon installed and wired five wooden utility poles along 77th Avenue between 80th and 84th streets. The telecommunications giant told the Times Newsweekly this was done to allow for the expansion of its FiOS fiber optic television, telephone and Internet network.

The “revolutionary upgrade in infrastructure … will bring superfast [sic] Internet services and competitive TV services to this area,” according to a Verizon spokesperson, who added “it is a city mandate that we install this network throughout all five boroughs.”

But the pole installation came with little notice to local residents, according to 77th Avenue resident Mike Buckley. In a phone interview with the Times Newsweekly, he questioned why Verizon had to install new, unsightly poles in front of attached homes when the company already runs its telephone lines along utility poles located in the rear of homes along a shared community driveway.

Moreover, he claimed, Verizon provided little advanced notice of the information, catching residents on the block by surprise last week when they spotted the poles being installed.

“No one’s saying we don’t want FiOS, but you have phone lines that go along the back of our houses,” Buckley said. “It’s been that way for 70 years. [They] decided to stick poles and hang wires, and we had no input in the process.”

But the driveway poles may go the way of dial-up Internet, according to Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano. In speaking with representatives of the Public Service Commission-which oversees utility operations in New York State-he learned Verizon may be moving regular phone lines out of the driveways and onto the streets.

Such a switch would affect many areas of Glendale, Middle Village and other local neighborhoods which have attached homes sharing community driveways.

“There apparently have been numerous problems where people wouldn’t grant [Verizon workers] access to a community drive to do whatever work needed to restore phone service,” Giordano told the Times Newsweekly.

However, a Verizon spokesperson stated on Tuesday, Apr. 1, that “it is unlikely that anything would be moved off of them anytime soon” since the company “has facilities and equipment on those backyard poles that serve customers, and those facilities and cables are connected to the rears of people’s homes.”

The driveway poles are also used by other utility companies to service local residents and connect the area’s network, he added.

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