The Village of Walden is taking a proactive stance in attempting to get its street lights repaired by the New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) company. With dozens of lights out in the village in the middle of winter, the municipality is keeping up the pressure on the corporation to fix the street lamps.
During the Village Board’s meeting on Dec. 3, Trustee Lynn Thompson asked Village Manager John Revella what was being done about the darkened street lights. “What recourse do we have that they are absolutely not coming to this village in a timely manner to fix the multiple street lights that are out?” Thompson asked Revella. “I’m very concerned about the street lights that are out in front of the post office. I saw a child almost get hit by a car because you could not see this little person trying to cross the street. I saw the same thing with a gentleman who stepped off the curb. You couldn’t see him. It’s winter and he had a dark coat on. It’s way too dark there.”
“The New York State Public Service Commission is who you complain to, there’s no one else that has authority over them,” Revella replied. “We can talk to senators, legislators, the Governor’s office. We can try those avenues, but that division is the one that oversees public utilities in the state of New York since the state broke it up into these private companies. The problem is our private company was a United States company that was sold to a foreign entity, and since that time it’s been disastrous and gone downhill.” NYSEG is a subsidiary of Iberdrola, a Spanish electric conglomerate.
The manager said the village has written letters to the company about the issue, and had its elected representatives argue on its behalf, to no great avail so far. “It is a problem and a safety hazard, and we’re definitely concerned about it,” Revella told the board. “Especially the ones on our main thoroughfares. I spoke to NYSEG on Sunday, because they were out doing services, and they assured me that they have stacks of work requests for the village.”
Work crews are working to repair the lights, but the village hopes the pace will quicken. “They’ve been fixing them the past week, but prior to them starting to fix them there were at least 30 out,” Revella said.
The village is looking at additional solutions to the ongoing problem with the street lights. “We always have this issue,” Walden Mayor Susan Rumbold said. “We had a major issue on Main Street for a few years with the electrical lines, which is one reason why we had to remove the trees. But you always have lights blowing out, and being able to get to them is an issue. But we’ve been looking at alternative lighting for a while to try to address that issue.”
During last Tuesday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved three local laws, including legislation that will fine residents for failing to comply with the village’s requirement to install new water meters in their homes. The board also approved a law that will see the installation of a stop sign on Northern Avenue and Ivy Hill Road and a bill that will create a no parking zone from the southwest corner of Oak Street and West Main Street.
Walden is considering signing a 15-year contract with the county that would see the village provided with $102,000 worth of new police radio equipment by Orange County, but during last week’s meeting, multiple board members expressed reservations about the length and specifics of the deal.
Trustee John Ramos contended that the proposed 15-year municipal contract is too long, and will see the radio equipment grow outdated long before the end of the contract. Rumbold also raised concerns about the long-range costs of the deal. The shared services agreement would see the village receive the equipment up front at no cost, but Walden would then be responsible for replacing the equipment as it breaks. “A group of people got together and talked about it and came up with this contract, and the board just has questions,” Rumbold said.
“Once we get the answers, we’re going to have to make a decision whether to get onboard or not. The county has been talking about it for a couple of years, and we’re just now getting the details of the paperwork. We didn’t know what the contract was going to look like, so we’re just getting those things now.”
The village will invite Craig Cherry, the Deputy Commissioner of the Orange County Police Liaison Services, to speak to the board about the issue at its next meeting on Dec. 17.
The county’s radio program would allow all municipalities to hook up to their system with the equipment it will provide.