By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Sea Bright officials have requested that Verizon and JCP&L inspect all utility poles in town and provide a report on their condition, a move spurred by a chain-reaction of pole collapses during last week’s rainstorm.
Heavy winds knocked down poles on New Street, leading to a power outage and evacuation of all residents of the street.
In addition to heading off a potential problems in the future, the council wants to know if the failures might have been avoided.
New Street resident Natalie Nicol think they might have been. She said there was a perfect opportunity for the borough to have the poles on New Street inspected and/or replaced a few years ago when the street was repaved and new sidewalks were installed.
“This was absolutely preventable, and the town council knew it,” Nicol said at a borough council meeting this week.
Council President William Keeler said he isn’t sure whether the council spoke to Verizon, which owns the poles on New Street, to inspect the poles at that time and if so, what the company’s feedback was. He’s looking into it, he said.
“I don’t have an opinion on that yet. That was a good point on her part,” Keeler said. On whether the council should have pushed for new poles back then, he said, “maybe we should have pursued it, I don’t know.”
The pole-by-pole inspections, which have already started, should tell the council whether another accident can be prevented, Keeler said. There are a bunch of leaning poles in town, he said, and many of them have a shortened lifespan because of the weather. Sea Bright is prone to flooding, and the combination of heavy wind and saltwater doesn’t mix well with wood.
Nicol said poles on Surf, Center and Beach streets are accidents waiting to happen and, while there was only one minor injury Thursday, the results could be worse if more poles fall down.
“This has got to be taken care of, because we were just lucky this time,” Nicol said.