Edgartown selectmen had sharp words for representatives from NStar Monday about the installation of taller utility poles on the Island.
The new utility poles, which are being installed on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and Edgartown-West Tisbury Road, average about 10 feet taller than the previous poles. An NStar representative told the Gazette that about 260 new poles are being installed, 180 on public roadways. Most of the poles are replacing existing poles, though some are new.
The Tisbury selectmen referred the project for review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. The Edgartown selectmen last week asked that representatives of NStar come to answer questions about the project.
“It’s not something we take pleasure in doing,” NStar community relations representative Jerry McDermott told the selectmen. He said the new poles are necessary because of upgrades to the Island electric system, which requires heavier wires and equipment. Additionally, some trees around the new poles had to be trimmed back, he said. The old poles aged, Mr. McDermit said, so they were almost a “Cape Cod gray, salty gray. These are new poles and they stick out.”
He added that NStar has been in touch with Tisbury and the commission to discuss the project.
Selectman Arthur Smadbeck questioned whether the company had looked at putting wires underground.
Mr. McDermit said beyond a longer fix time when things go wrong, the underground cables are costly, running between $1 million and $1.5 million per mile. Everyone in the community would pick up the cost, he said; if Tisbury wanted underground wires, the upgrade would go on electric bills for others around the Island.
Mr. Smadbeck said he thought it would be “worthwhile to run the numbers about how much it would cost and how much it would add to bills...if we had those numbers quantified, then we could have more of an intelligent discussion amongst all of us to decide.” He said the issue could even be brought to a vote and the town would “feel a little bit more in control of our own destiny.”
But selectman Michael Donaroma said that NStar has a “history of not wanting to put [cables] underground,” and said they have a monopoly on the Island.
“You’re single-handedly destroying the aesthetics of Martha’s Vineyard, there’s no way around that, because of reluctance to go underground and find an economically viable way of doing that,” he said.
Mr. McDermit agreed to compile information about how much it would cost to go underground and convey that information to town administrator Pamela Dolby.
In other business, selectmen heard from animal control officer Barbara Prada and assistant animal control officer Jen Morgan about a vicious dog complaint Saturday night. According to Ms. Prada, two dogs got into a fight and “tore each other up.”
One of the dogs, which belongs to Damon Burke, was the subject of a vicious dog hearing in Oak Bluffs after he attacked a Jack Russell terrier, which had to have its leg amputated.
Mr. Burke’s dog, Ramune, is in quarantine at the Edgartown pound until July 16, while the other dog is quarantined at home. The selectmen will have a hearing about the matter next week.