Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time to Speak Up!

We are getting reports continually about problems with the end result - the visual impact - of pruning, especially concerning evergreens. While they may be being pruned to proper horticultural standards to remove branches, the sight of 25-30 feet of denuded tree trunk is disheartening, making one feel sick to one's stomach. These trees will never "recover", aesthetically speaking. And when topped (as often occurs), will enter into a state of decline.

Equally of concern is the reported attitude of the line clearing crews when confronted by concerned homeowners - in these the interactions, the crews are often reported to be testy, unhelpful and having an attitude that "it's tough luck, there is nothing you can do about it. We have our job to do and Con Ed has the right to do it." They can provide no help in terms of escalation contact numbers or procedures. No Con Ed supervisors can typically be located. What can a homeowner do?

Below (posted Nov 3rd) is an outline listing of the sort of changes we should demand to see in the pruning process. Some of these the village is already undertaking. Some of them Con Ed might agree to. But fundamentally, we are asking Con Ed to self-police and self-adjust. This may be highly unlikely without a lot of external pressure.

There is nothing like the feeling of "eminent domain" forfeiture (not in legal actuality, but in principal) to leave a lingering anger and bad taste in one's mouth. It leads to cynicism and disbelief in the political process and a sense of impotence in the face of corporate agendas. Con Ed's goals to ensure us reliable power in the end create aesthetic and environmental havoc. What would you choose if you had a vote in the decision?

Hopefully by now you are asking "What can be done? What can I do to help?"

A larger, more concerted effort with other forces ("bigger guns") will be needed. And a much greater degree of public embarrassment about the situation needs to be placed squarely on the door step of Con Ed management. We currently have the attention of the Enterprise, the River Journal and the Hudson Independent. But we need to reach out beyond these the weeklies/monthlies. We need immediate high profile news coverage such as by Channel 12, Fox 5, NYT or even the Journal News. Without this, can there ever be enough negative publicity to force Con Ed senior management to take effective action?

Ready, Set, Action!

There is nothing magic here: Write your letters, make your calls. Contact news organizations, local and regional politicians at a county, state and national level. Contact your favorite environmental organization. If you have corporate contacts in business that might be of help, call in the chips! And of course, continue to put pressure on the Village by letting them hear your concerns. It takes a few minutes but speaking up has never been more important to maintain the quality of our village environment. Do it now - the Con Ed crews are out and working at full pace. We can't glue the trees back together again.

If any of you reading this have legal background, particularly in PUC and utility related matters, now would be a great time to compose a short summary of homeowner rights and recourse in regards to Con Ed pruning, crew trespass, advance notification and concurrence requirements, and so on. Email it to me and I will distribute this much needed info. Thanks.

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