Verizon tries the grizzly bear approach to thwarting vandals — huge, ugly poles in a historic district

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Victorian Flatbush has literally gotten the shaft.

Verizon is thwarting would-be vandals by installing 20-foot-tall poles throughout the Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park Historic District — the only place in the city where the obelisks are installed.

The telecommunications giant says that the poles are needed to safeguard access points to its underground network of high-speed fiber optic cables, claiming that commonly used squat metal boxes would be destroyed by kids, graffiti and vandalism.

But residents say that the eyesores — whose wires are actually underground — have no place in a beautiful landmarked neighborhood. Plus, the poles are unnecessary.

“We have phone lines in the backyards of our homes,” said Fiske Terrace Association member Fred Baer. “Why can’t they put the [wires] there?”

The phone and cable company said that backyards are not an option because it would need permission from residents to place the poles there — something it doesn’t need to put them on the streets.

As first reported on Ditmas Park Blog, a pole has already been installed on E. 18th Street between Foster Avenue and Glenwood Road — and more are on the way. The city said it has received complaints about the pole and is currently discussing it with Verizon — but the company is not concerned.

“At this point, I don’t think it’s up for negotiatio­ns,” said Verizon spokesman John Bonomo.

Bonomo would not say why the tony neighborhood was apparently the first one in the city to be chosen for Verizon’s anti-graffiti and anti-theft initiative, but praised the company’s solution to such ongoing problems elsewhere.

“If a box is broken into, and a bad guy tampers with the electronics or wiring inside, that could cause havoc with the neighborhood’s phone, internet and TV services,” he said. “This is the architecture that’s going to best serve that area.”

And Verizon says the law is on its side.

“Verizon is permitted to place these poles in public ways at necessary locations, so long as the company has not altered the immediate vicinity of the pole, and the pole was placed with all required approvals,” the company said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time an historic neighborhood balked at the erection of utility poles. On Staten Island (believe it or not) residents in an historic area protested Con Edison’s plan to install of 55-foot-tall electricity poles, replacing the 40-foot poles that were already there. The electric giant ultimately relented.

Verizon says it doesn’t know how many poles it will need to install. But to residents, even one is too much.

“I would be shocked if Landmarks approved it,” said Sarina Roffe, who lives in Fiske Terrace. “It’s just not in keeping with the neighborho­od.”

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Reader Feedback

Cipster from South Slope says:
Not true that Victorian Flatbush is the only neighborhood where the obelisks are being installed.

We may not be an historic district, but the poles are also appearing in South Slope... 15th, 16th off Fifth Ave, for example.

They don't look good here either.
June 7, 2011, 10:25 am
Rudy from Clinton Hill says:
One of these poles s was installed at the corner of Cambridge Place and Fulton Street in Clinton Hill several months ago. People just need to relax. Is the pole attractive? No. But is the pole that much or a These residents have a right to complain, but don't try to sell it as some crime against the community.
June 7, 2011, 11:23 am
ms nomer from greenpoint says:
Definitely not true that Victorian Flatbush was singled out. Verizon just put one of those poles on Milton Street in Greenpoint, which is also within the historic district.
June 7, 2011, 1:56 pm
Tony from Carroll Gardens says:
There is also another one on the corner of Sackett and Smith Streets.
If they help against lines being tampered with...INSTALL THEM EVERYWHERE !!
June 7, 2011, 7:19 pm
Peters from Bay Ridge says:
Time Warner has had its junction box (around the size of a nightstand) just around the corner since cable was installed in the neighborhood without any vandalism to it and without drawing any attention to itself. A new Verizon pole appeared around the other corner and the first time I drove by I thought my head would fall of as it snapped around to see what it was that I noticed out of the corner of my eye that was so big, dark, and ugly. Right now it's a massive dark rusty eyesore that looks like a transplant from a metal scrap yard. I hope it gets painted some soothing light color before too long, hopefully that will improve appearances.
July 2, 2011, 11:43 am

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