OSWEGO, NY – Representatives from National Grid meet with city officials and a handful of residents Monday night in City Hall.
The meeting was facilitated by the city in the wake of some residents’ concerns over what they say was unannounced tree trimming by National Grid.
The utility company has been upgrading its power lines and Monday night’s meeting was a chance for them to explain what they are doing and answer questions from the public.
Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd said the city should plant smaller trees under the power lines or stop planting trees under the wires altogether.
Jim Malonoy, load supervisor distribution forestry for National Grid, said the company is doing maintenance and a rebuild of their power lines.
He explained how the company handles trees on city property and private property.
“If it’s private, we don’t have rights,” he explained.
Individual homeowners are notified when National Grid seeks to do work on private property, he said.
Trees are associated with an average of about $7,000 increase in property values, which translates directly into your tax base, one resident said.
Half the trees in his neighborhood were shaved from the trunk to the top.
“I find it hard to believe that that was truly necessary,” he added.
If National Grid had an effective notification system, this should not have been a surprise to virtually everyone in the neighborhood, he said.
“If neighbors are surprised, then the notification system is ineffective,” he told the National Grid representative.
One resident asked why the utility company doesn’t place more power lines underground.
It really isn’t feasible, Malonoy said, adding that it would cost about $1 million per mile.
Oswego Tree Steward Phil MacArthur, a member of the city’s Tree Advisory Board, said the utility company should toe the line in regards to Oswego’s tree ordinance.
“So, if you have to take down a mature, healthy tree … you’d pay $1,500 for a replacement. That would show us that you value our trees,” he said. “I think that is something the city should negotiate.”
“We’re already working on that with other municipalities,” Malonoy said.
Monday’s night’s meeting was a good dialogue, Mayor Tom Gillen said.
He hopes National Grid continues to be a good corporate neighbor and keeps the lines of communication open throughout the coming new year.
“I heard National Grid agree to pay $1,500 into our tree budget for each and every mature tree they remove. This will buy a dozen young trees for our city to help defray the damage they cause to our city tree canopy,” MacArthur told Oswego County Today after the meeting. “When you consider each mature tree has a real value of $10,000 to $30,000 it still is small change but perhaps the best we can negotiate considering how ‘tight’ National Grid is with the Public Service Commission.”