In 2008 Clarkstown saw a proliferation of “double wood,” the term used for two or three utility poles in one location. At that time the town counted 608 double wood conditions in town, county and state right-of-ways. After a concerted effort to reduce the number by working with the utility companies, they have reappeared and now number between 500 and 600.
Deputy Town Attorney Jeff Millman told the town board an effort to reduce the number of double poles after the 2008 count was successful and they decreased to 200 by 2009 and 2010. However, that did not last for long.
“We found that in 2012, the roads did not look as clean as 2010,” Millman said at Tuesday’s town board workshop.
“Double wood” is used when poles are damaged and the utility connections need to be transferred or if a stronger pole is necessary to hold heavier equipment. The original pole is supposed to be removed within 30 days according to a Joint Use Agreement among utilities. Another concern that Millman brought up is double poles can obstruct a driver's view.
Because multiple utilties use the poles Millman explained the process of notification would start with O&R if it installed a new pole because of heavier equipment. Orange & Rockland is then supposed to advise Verizon to transfer its equipment and then the phone company tells Cablevision when its work is completed.
The town formed a task force last year that went to each double wood location, identified it and took photos. In March 2012, a CD with all of the sites was given to O&R, Verizon and Cablevision.
“I can tell you there has been very little cooperation,” Millman said, noting the number of double wood conditions has not decreased since 2012 and specifically mentioning West Nyack Road.
Millman proposed a course of action for the town board that included drafting legislation for a local law. Under the law, he said a violation notice would be sent to utilities about each double pole location on town roads and give them 90 days to remove it.
Millman said 90 days is ample time because a double pole can be removed in four to eight hours. Fines would be levied if the double pole was not removed. Millman recommended a fine of $1,000 per month per utility for each double pole.
“Every month thereafter it’s an additional $1,000 fine to the utilities that are responsible for the double wood condition,” said Millman. “And then it becomes an enforcement issue at that point.”