Pole dance! City battles Verizon over utility poles in Fiske-Terrace

Pole dance! City battles Verizon over utility poles in Fiske-Terrace
File photo by Steve Solomonson

Verizon has stopped construction of a 20-foot utility pole in an historic district in Midwood after neighbors complained about the monstrosity and it was revealed that the telecommunications giant broke the law by not getting the necessary permits to put it up in the first place.

Now the company is trying to convince the city to let it install the monolith — one of which has already been completed in Greenpoint — which will eventually include a large box near the top of it.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission said it is trying to get Verizon to budge on the size of the pole, which neighbors — and the city — agree is too big.

“Work on the tall pole in Midwood has been postponed until Verizon obtains approval,” said spokeswoman Lisi De Bourbon. “[We] are in the process of identifying possible alternatives that meet the Commission’s regulations.”

But Verizon says it stands by the design.

“That’s why we put them there,” said spokesman John Bonomo, when asked if Verizon still thinks the pole fits in with the neighborhood.

Neighbors were outraged to find that the company installed huge pole on E. 18th Street between Foster Avenue and Glenwood Road, which is part of a neighborhood where construction projects require city approval to ensure they don’t take away from the neighborhood old-school look and feel.

The company says that the poles are needed to safeguard access points to its underground network of high-speed fiber optic cables, claiming that quat metal boxes more commonly used in neighborhoods without above ground telephone and electric wires would become victims of graffiti and vandalis.

But residents have said that vandalism isn’t a problem in their neighborhood, with its million-dollar houses and pristine lawns, and that Verizon gave them the shaft when it failed to ask permission before installing it.

“As far as were concerned, they vandalized our neighborhood by putting in that pole,” Nancy Beranbaum, co-president of the Fiske Terrace Association last month.

“The pole just suddenly appeared. We had no foreknowledge that the pole was going to be erected,” said Paula Paterniti, co-president of the Fiske Terrace Association. “The woman whose home it’s in front of — she just woke up one day and the pole was there.”

Paterniti said she thinks the neighbors affected by the pole’s placement should be involved in the discussions with the city, but De Bourbon said the negotiations will take place behind closed doors until the commission reaches a verdict.

“The public weighs in only if a proposal requires a review by the full commission,” said De Bourbon. “Verizon has not submitted a proposal so there’s been no decision whether it’s going to be reviewed by our staff or the full commission.”