The Westhampton Beach Village Board is considering a proposed local law that, once a reconstruction project begins, would require certain Main Street businesses to connect their electric lines based on plans developed by PSEG Long Island, Cablevision, Verizon and H2M Architects + Engineers, the Melville-based firm overseeing the project.
The $6.13 million Main Street project, which has been in the works for the past few years, calls for ripping up the street in the business district to install new sidewalks and road surfaces, and to replace ineffective drainage systems. As part of the renovation, village officials are also looking to remove all of the overhead wires and utility poles on Main Street by either burying the utility lines or, in some cases—for buildings located on the north side of the street, near Moniebogue Lane, Mitchell Road and Library Avenue—rerouting the wires to meter boxes and poles behind the buildings, on village-owned streets and parking lots.
“We’re going to need to require people to connect, because if they don’t, PSEG can’t take the poles out,” Mayor Maria Moore said at a recent Village Board work session. “We can have all the infrastructure in the road, and the conduit, and be ready to pull the wires—but if one person won’t connect, it can hold the whole project up. So we need to have something to say, ‘You’ve got to do it.’”
According to Village Board member Ralph Urban, there is a specific plan in place for each building’s utility lines. Ms. Moore noted, however, that the engineers were still reviewing those plans, and the final proposal should be complete within the next two weeks.
Diagrams reviewed at an earlier board meeting revealed that power poles on the south side of the road, near the Great Lawn and the Rite Aid, will remain, because switch gear equipment on the power lines make them difficult, and more expensive, to bury. Rerouting some of the lines on the north side of the street to poles behind Main Street also will save money and be an easier fix, Mr. Urban noted.
“Since we’re doing it, people really don’t have a choice,” Village Attorney Stephen Angel said. “Once we put in that underground system, we’re not going to keep a pole system for one or two people. It doesn’t work that way, nor will PSEG do it. So this requires people to connect.”
If the law is approved by the board, and property owners do not comply, Ms. Moore said, “the alternative is to impose a fine—but we don’t want to do that, and people might just ignore it anyway.”
Mr. Angel and his colleagues are finalizing the proposed legislation this week, and a public hearing, where community members can voice their thoughts on the legislation, is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 6.