SOUTH RUSSELL — Dave and Tracy Murray last week shared their frustrations over an electrical pole that was to be put in the front yard of their Lake Louise house without their knowledge or consent.
“We were kind of surprised to find out last minute that a pole was going to be put in our front yard, and thanks to working from home orders we found out that day,” Mr. Murray told members of the Public Utilities Committee during a June 17 Zoom meeting. “That pole may have been in there when we got home from work that day, so we were just kind of shocked that that was happening and that it could take place like that.”
Joining the meeting was David Conley, who works in Regional External Affairs at FirstEnergy, the company interested in installing the above-ground pole on Morningside Drive.
“The pole is placed where it is to reroute primary lines that run through extremely vegetated areas,” Mr. Conley explained. He added that FirstEnergy has a certain obligation to provide a certain level of power both safely and economically.
Mr. Conley said pole maintenance would be easier from the Murrays’ front yard since it is mostly vegetation free.
Mr. Murray argued that last week the area had a power outage with some neighbors going without electricity for 24 hours. The newly proposed pole would not have prevented the loss of service because a different part of the line went down. Even if the pole were installed, he said, it would not have helped.
“I think we’re thinking not only about the integrity of our home but also the integrity of our neighborhood and South Russell Village,” Mrs. Murray countered. “We probably lose power half a dozen times a year. It’s always in a different location. We understand the safety of it, but what’s going to fix this one particular line when other lines go down?
Mayor William Koons said the pole and Lake Louise are two separate issues, and the village will take care of the pole first and then take a look at the development.
After the meeting, the mayor explained that Lake Louise, which consists of all public roads managed by the village, has had a number of electrical issues over the years.
The Murrays, who have lived in the development for seven years, said they spent $30,000 to remove the growth of trees in their front yard, making it a prime spot for the pole. This is unfair, Mr. Murray added, because there already is an electrical line running through the backyard. FirstEnergy should consider putting the pole in another location, he said.
Mrs. Murray asked the committee if there’s nothing they can do to protect the integrity and the value of their home and neighborhood. “I think as a taxpayer, our village needs to do something,” she said. “It’s littered with lines. Littered.”
Committee Chairman and Councilman Dennis Galicki agreed that nobody likes having utility poles in their front yard, and asked if there was anything that could be done to mitigate the aesthetic issues with the pole.
Councilwoman Cynthia Nairn said, “This is a huge, established company and Mr. and Mrs. Murray are writing their check.
“You were asleep at the wheel for this one, not [Mr. Conley] personally, but I was very taken aback that [the Murrays] had no forewarning at all. I would react the same way if I saw people moving things around on my property and I didn’t know about it.”
Mayor Koons also asked Mr. Conley to inquire about the costs of installing electrical lines underground and removing trees from another yard for pole installation.
The next committee meeting is 8 a.m. June 25.