Their dramatic view of the Hudson River and New York City skyline has been obstructed by utility poles, and some Galaxy Tower residents are not happy about it.
In early August, the poles were installed by PSE&G along River Road, near the densely populated condo towers in Guttenberg.
Lukasz and Agnieszka Szelag, who live on the fifth floor of the Galaxy, sent a letter on Aug. 5 to the Galaxy Board of Directors to express their concerns.
“On August 2, 2012, when I came home and opened my shades, I saw a big pole just in front of my window,” says the letter. “It is hideous and blocking my New York City view. All it’s missing are those connecting wires, which will make the matter even worse. The placement/height of these poles will significantly impact our property value and marketability.”
Mayor Gerald Drasheff has been trying to find a range of possible solutions with the help of PSE&G.
“Although not a requirement, it is PSE&G’s practice to notify the municipalities.” – John Margaritis of PSE&G
“In this case, the company notified West New York,” said Project Director John Margaritis for Transmission Expansion Communications and Outreach of PSE&G. “Because West New York and Guttenberg share the same zip code, we did not realize that the Galaxy Towers property is considered part of Guttenberg. It was an inadvertent oversight. Since then, PSE&G has been in contact with the mayor and the manager of Galaxy Towers.”
The options are to put the wires underground, which Drasheff doesn’t think is feasible, or to place the poles across the street from where they are now.
“We’ve got a good relationship with them [PSE&G], and I don’t think they’re happy that we weren’t consulted before, to minimize the impact on everybody,” said Drasheff. “We’re assembling a dialogue with public service [PSE&G], trying to see other options still available.”
Property values impacted
One key issue for Drasheff was the property value of homes along River Road and how the utility poles affect the value of the Galaxy condos.
“You pay for the view, so when that’s impacted, someone’s going to try and make an issue out of it,” said Drasheff.
The size of the poles is what makes it more of an obstruction.
“The poles they put in are almost twice as high as the old ones were,” said Drasheff.
He said he has received numerous negative emails from Galaxy residents.
PSE&G weighs in
“Although not a requirement, it is PSE&G’s practice to notify the municipalities in which it will be doing significant utility work,” said Margaritis. “While it would be impossible to complete any utility project if the company was required to obtain permission from each municipality or property owner, PSE&G may consider modifications where feasible.”
The company has not yet decided what to do.
“PSE&G is currently [trying to seek options for] the viability of relocating a portion of the pole line along River Road,” said Margaritis. “Such relocation may not, however, be feasible as the presence of other utilities and/or viable (i.e., pole support) options may prohibit other alternatives.”
He said the pole height is determined by several factors, such as location, span, number of wires/circuits and the circuit voltage.
“The poles were selected in accordance with applicable safety codes, the higher the voltage the higher the pole height,” said Margaritis. “The new circuits being added to the River Road...will carry 69,000 volts (69 kV) of electricity compared to the 26,000 (26 kV) volts carried by the existing supply lines.”
PSE&G said that upgrades to the poles on River Road are part of the statewide electric reliability improvement program. PSE&G is investing $1.5 billion to upgrade the infrastructure this year.
“In the vicinity of Guttenberg and the neighboring towns, PSE&G is replacing the supply lines constructed over 50 years ago with new, higher voltage lines (69 kV) capable of supporting the region’s growing demand for electricity,” said Margaritis. “This new construction connects the new upgraded power sources at Bergen and East Rutherford Switching Stations, thereby providing additional capacity and greater system reliability to the surrounding communities.”
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org