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

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

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.”