Pole position: Midwood mad over Verizon’s silence on infrastructure.

The community board asked Verizon to tell it where new poles will be installed…

Verizon is hiding its plans to install unwanted utility poles in Midwood, say neighbors who claim the telecommunication behemoth has ignored their demand to be told where and when new poles will be installed.

Community Board 14’s leadership sent Verizon a letter on Oct. 12 requesting it be told about the location and date of all of the company’s installations in the area — but says they have received a vague response from Verizon that doesn’t answer their questions.

“We haven’t received enough information,” said Alvin Berk, CB14’s president, when asked about Verizon’s response. “The important thing is to know what the company plans to do where, and when.”

The board wrote the company asking as much on Oct. 12, after a heated community meeting in which residents of E. 16th Street — who say the company placed the wooden poles on the pole-less block for its high-speed internet, television, and telephone service without notifying them — spoke out against the company.

“It has become evident that the community has not been sufficiently informed of Verizon’s plans to install [the] service,” Berk wrote in the letter. “The community board therefore requests notification prior to the installation of any infrastructure … including the location and date that the work is scheduled to begin.”

In its response, Verizon failed to provide the board with the information — despite continually promising to work with the community only a few weeks ago — and did not agree to inform the community board of the specifics of its plans.

Verizon will “do our best to keep them [the community board staff] abreast of Verizon-related activity in the community,” wrote James Gerace, the president of Verizon in New York, in the company’s response to the community board.

… but Verizon hasn't done so yet.

Verizon also refused to address the neighborhood’s request for information, when asked by the King’s Courier to respond, claiming that it would only notify the community board ahead of “scheduled” work.

“They ask us to notify them when we do work,” said Richard Windram, a Verizon representative. “We haven’t done any work, so what can they expect?”

The community board was hoping its letter would help avoid flare-ups like the one on E. 16th Street, where residents are still fighting Verizon to keep its poles and wires behind their houses — and out of sight.

After a months-long fight, Verizon now says it is scheduled to wire the poles on Dec. 3 — making the offending obelisks a permanent fixture on the street — unless residents can secure the notarized easements from their neighbors the company says it needs to take the poles down.

Neighbors say they are losing faith in the company’s intentions, claiming its refusal to release plans in Midwood is just a calculated move to make it easier for them to move in on the neighborhood.

“It’s a Machiavellian attitude,” said Joseph Vitacco Jr., a Midwood real estate broker, referencing the Italian philosopher who wrote about political scheming during the Renaissance. “They know it’s easier to fight back what you know, then what you don’t.”

And there could be more controversy on the horizon: Verizon says it is only about 20 percent finished upgrading the neighborhood’s infrastructure to support its service.

Maryann Caputo says she cannot stand the poles Verizon raised on her block on E. 16th Street between Avenues J and K, and now Community Board 14 says it wants to know where and when the telecommunications behemoth plans to install new ones.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow his Tweets at @from_where_isit.

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