GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

January 24, 2013

Grid agrees to Manchester light deal

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — MANCHESTER — Residents of Rosedale Avenue should soon have a bright future, as town officials Tuesday night approved a petition for a work agreement allowing National Grid to install a new conduit and illuminate streetlights that have been dark for over a year.

Peter Glynn, representing the British-based utility giant, said the work will involve minor escavation work along Rosedale Avenue. Crews will spend three to four days digging about 18 inches down to install the new conduit and wires.

The lights along Rosedale Avenue have been out for more than one year, said Wayne Melville, acting now in a role as interim town administrator after stepping down from his full-time post. Melville estimated the cost of the lights vary and have cost taxpayers anywhere from $170 up to $862 for the time the streetlights were out.

Streetlights are charged at a flat rate, which is based upon the type of light bulb and the hours they are timed to run.

Glynn said the issue revolving around Rosedale Avenue is not faulty light bulbs, but rather the wires underground. The company acquired the town’s electric equipment including the underground utilities from the old Massachusetts Electric in 2006.

Cost was not the only issue concerning residents at the Board of Selectmen meeting. Judy Sabella said she had safety concerns about the streetlights being for so long, especially with the Manchester Essex Regional Middle/High School being so close by.

”We have a street filled with little kids,” she said.

Sabella also questioned why any improvements have taken so long.

Glynn said previous crews were unable to locate where the faulty underground wires were.

He added the excavation work should begin sometime in the spring and would try to schedule work around the week of April vacation, as requested by the Board of Selectmen.

Additionally, the Board agreed to contact police officers and have them make note of any other faulty National Grid installations.

Melville said there are about 500 lights that are out throughout Manchester, but the town lacks specific knowledge as to where they are, why they are out and what types of lights there are.

”... I believe this will be a staple of the board’s policy toward National Grid in the future in an effort to motivate them to get streetlights back on in a timely manner,” he wrote in an email to the Times.

As with every petition to work, National Grid employees must repair the street to the same condition they found it in.

Previously, a section of Ashland Avenue remained exposed for months; it was finally repaved last December after the power company finished work in the summertime, officials said.

Although the selectmen did not request any sort of reimbursement from National Grid at their last meeting, Melville said the town will begin to request abatements to power bills once a specific type of installation can be related to a specific location and light.

Glynn acknowledged the power struggles within Manchester, but remained positive about the Rosedale Avenue project.

“As soon as spring comes, we’ll wrap this dig up,” he said.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.