Our round-up of the latest Natick, Mass., business news:
Verizon getting a special invite
The Natick Select Board on Aug. 24 once again (just before the 2-hour mark of the Natick Pegasus recording) took up our long municipal nightmare, otherwise known as the South Main Street roadway and construction project that’s been ongoing for the past couple of years. (This topic was also touched upon about 24 minutes into the June 16 Select Board meeting.)
Deputy Town Administrator Jon Marshall kicked things off with a status report, which began with an update on the utility pole replacement and conversion that Eversource has taken the lead on. Upgrades to new poles start with the utility wires up top (electrical) and work their way down to cable wires and other elements, such as street lights and fire alarms. But the town learned during the spring that a management system used to manage the process wasn’t up to snuff. “The information wasn’t in appropriately and it was creating some challenges,” Marshall said. Since the spring, Eversource has completed its work moving wires from pole to pole, and the town has completed work on its own gear attached to the poles.
Next in line to complete pole work are RCN, Comcast, and finally, Verizon. All three have made progress this summer, though there have also been fresh delays, including one from Verizon due to its putting out some of its work for a redesign. “We’ve asked for an update in terms of what that means from a timeline standpoint,” Marshall said, regarding Verizon.
Some 80% of the work remained on utility upgrades and pole removals, according to the numbers shared by the town on Aug. 24 (see memo embedded below). Work remained to be done on more than 50 poles on South Main Street. So progress has been made, but it wouldn’t likely be visible to the typical passerby or neighbor.
Marshall and town colleagues have been meeting biweekly with the utility companies, though Verizon has not attended despite requests (Verizon has been in separate discussions with town officials, so this isn’t to say there has been no communications).
Asked by Select Board member Michael Hickey why it would be helpful to have Verizon at these meetings, Marshall responded that “We want to make sure that all of these utilities are sequenced in as an efficient process as possible. I think what we’ve found from the beginning of this process is that it hasn’t been very smooth, and I know it’s been frustrating to the board, staff, as well as residents in the community. What we’re finding is that when one of the utilities is completing their work]there’s a lag…” until the next gets started.
Though Hickey said these meetings and this level of project management might not even be needed if the electronic system coordinating the vendors worked better.
“The fact that we have at this late stage one company that just doesn’t send anybody to a meeting every two weeks…we are such a non-squeaky wheel as a community. I can guarantee there are other communities whose patience would have run out on this two years ago and would have gone way way above and beyond in terms of having a complete meltdown with their counterparts in government affairs and so on. We are an easy community to deal with, and that’s the part that I think bugs me the most, that that’s kind of taken for granted.”
The town may need to just “throw a tantrum,” Hickey said, recommending an escalation of communications to higher-ups at lagging companies. “Apparently what’s needed is knocking heads together of live human beings rather than pushing buttons in a database to make things happen…” he said.
Verizon will definitely get an invitation to appear at the board’s Sept. 7 meeting, Chair Paul Joseph said. After all, this work needs to move along in order for the roadwork contractor to finish its job, and delays are costing the town.
Oh, and don’t even get the town officials started on planned Washington Avenue work…
(We’re feeling some of the Select Board’s pain. We eventually had to take to Twitter with a video to get Eversource’s attention to clean up a ton of cigarette butts left by contractors in our neighborhood following gas main work this summer.)
Conscious Beauty Collective opening at Natick Mall
Thanks Call and Haul
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