Hamilton Street Holiday Lights Troubles Continue, Township May Install Own Poles

The Hamilton Street Advisory Board has been stymied in its attempts to install holiday lights across Hamilton Street. (File photo.)

If one believed in omens, one might think that the Hamilton Street Advisory Board’s attempt to brighten the business district for the holiday season was doomed from the start.

At least for the part of the effort having to do with stringing holiday lights across the street.

First, the lights couldn’t be put up in time because not all of the materials had been ordered. Then, the power supplies for the lights weren’t sufficient, so some of the lights had to be turned off to avoid blowing fuses.

And then this past season, the lights were removed by Public Service Electric & Gas – one week after they were put up – for a safety hazard violation.

Now, due to a new PSE&G policy banning pole-to-pole light connections on their utility poles, the township would have to buy and install its own poles to use the lights at all, after investing about $7,100 in them.

That is an option that is under consideration, said Vince Dominach, the advisory board’s executive director.

The advisory board had identified several locations in the business district – Hamilton Street from roughly Franklin Boulevard to the New Brunswick border – where the lights could be strung across the street. The main criteria was there had to be two opposing utility poles.

To solve the power issue, the board, through the township, last year spent $1,800 to have new power outlets installed on the utility poles, expressly for the lights, Dominach said. The outlets were installed by PSE&G, he said, and the lights went up without issue.

Dominach said the township thought it was understood that the outlets were being installed for the lights stretching across the street, and would have made accommodations for the height of the outlets.

“We explained to PS&G that we worked with them to install them last year and that they installed the outlets, but they refused to allow us to put the lights back up,” Dominach wrote in an email.

“We do not question that the location of lights do not meet their location specifications, but we are extremely upset and disappointed/frustrated that we were not informed of the issue last year before we paid PS&G for the outlets,” Dominach wrote.

Brooke Houston, a PSE&G spokeswoman, said there was a miscommunication at the time, and the company “did not specifically know it was pole-to-pole.”

She said the lights were removed last December because they were too close to the overhead power lines, and that to properly install them would not have left enough clearance for automobiles and trucks on Hamilton Street.

Regardless, she said, PSE&G is now banning pole-to-pole connections for things such as holiday lights, but will allow lights on freestanding poles.

“Its a safety hazard,” she said of the pole-to-pole connections. “With appropriate permits, decorations placed by municipalities are allowed on the poles.”



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