Edgartown selectmen ask NStar reps about utility pole alternative

Cape Light Compact released a new three-year energy efficiency plan this week. — File photo by Christy Aumer

Representatives of NSTAR appeared before Edgartown selectmen on Monday to explain why the utility is installing new, taller, and heavier replacement utility poles along the town’s two main roadways.

The upgrade involves 167 poles on the roadways, roughly split between Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road and West Tisbury Road, and approximately 84 located off-road along NSTAR’s right-of-way.

NSTAR economic development specialist Jerry McDermott explained the technical reason the bigger poles are needed. “We are coming with the new upgraded, more reliable power-lines,” he said.

“We’re running two circuits, of the 795 cable, which is the heavier cable, that require the 55 foot poles; one is going to be below the other, so there has to be a certain number of feet of separation. They are taller, there’s no doubt, but they’re needed,” Mr. McDermott said.

At their meeting on July 2, selectmen agreed to hear NSTAR before deciding whether to support Tisbury’s referral of the pole project for Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) review.

The public utility NSTAR is installing the new poles as part of an electric service reliability project for Martha’s Vineyard that includes the installation of a new submarine cable from Falmouth to the Island.

“We’re going to do everything we can to be respectful of all the towns that we’re impacting,” Mr. McDermott, said.

The NSTAR representative also explained that a number of trees will need to be trimmed in order to make way for the new poles.

“You do have to cut the trees back at this 45 degree angle, so you can have the pole placement and have all the wires free,” Mr. McDermott said. “That will grow back in, but the initial appearance is kind of ‘Whoa, what’s happened here?'”

Selectman Art Smadbeck asked about burying the wires underground as an alternative solution.

“I understand the reasoning as you were explaining it. I pretty much understand the reason why we need stronger poles, an upgrade, more wires,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “But one thing addressed and never discussed is the possibility of burying all these wires.”

Mr. McDermott provided a dollar figure based on a per-mile cost. “The real reason why most communities don’t do underground is because of cost,” Mr. McDermott said. “It’s anywhere from a million to a millon-five.”

Selectman Michael Donaroma was more critical of NSTAR’s plans. “They don’t like to put it underground,” Mr. Donaroma said. “They have a history of not wanting to put [cables] underground. They have a litany of reasons. They have a monopoly, they have power, they have the ability to do things the way the laws stand right now.”

Mr. Donaroma continued, “In my opinion, you guys are doing your job, I understand that’s why you’re here. Thank you for coming here, but you’re singlehandedly destroying the aesthetics of Martha’s Vineyard. There’s no way around that.”

Dog Fight

In other business, animal control officers Barbara Prada and Jennifer Morgan told selectmen on Monday, that they responded to a report of a “vicious fight” between two dogs on Saturday.

Ms. Prada told selectmen the dogs “tore each other up.” Ms. Prada said one of the dogs is owned by Damon Burke.

“There’s history with this dog,” Ms. Prada told selectmen.

On May 20, 2012, Mr. Burke’s dog attacked two Jack Russell terriers as their owner walked them on a leash near his home. The smaller dog was severely injured and survived the attack but later had its leg amputated.

Both dogs involved in Saturday’s incident are pit bull mixes, Ms. Prada told The Times in a follow-up conversation.

Mr. Burke’s dog, Ramune, will remain in quarantine at the Edgartown pound until Tuesday, July 16. The other dog will remain in quarantine at home, Ms. Prada said. Selectmen said they would wait for a report from Ms. Prada before they take further action.

Under Massachusetts state law, selectmen are charged with holding a public hearing to decide what, if any, sanctions should apply when a dog attacks another animal or a human.

July 4 recap

Edgartown Fire Chief Peter Shemeth provided a recap of July Fourth festivities to selectmen. Mr. Shemeth said 24 people required medical attention on the holiday.

During the height of calls, three ambulances were called in from Oak Bluffs to assist, and two called in from Edgartown. “It was hectic to say the least,” Mr. Shemeth said.

Despite the spike in emergency phone calls, Mr. Shemeth said he believed the day went smoothly.

“All in all, everything went according to plan,” Mr. Shemeth said.