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Frightened residents on an Armonk street where homeowners have experienced alarming power surges and flickering lights will have their concerns addressed after Con Edison informed town officials it will replace equipment this summer.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said they received word last week from the utility that it will be installing a new primary on Birch Grove Drive with a duct and conduit so it is protected from deterioration.
The residents appealed to the Town Board for help at the Apr. 27 board meeting after one couple on the street, Mark and Marnie Smith, had a devastating house fire in their son’s bedroom on Mar. 30 after having also experienced power surges and flickering lights.
The fire was deemed electrical and Mark Smith said that he’s convinced it was a result of faulty Con Edison electrical equipment after his electrician said the wiring from the house to the street was fine. Smith said at least four other neighboring homes experienced “scary” power surges, including some homeowners who lost appliances, and charged that “there’s a clear and present danger on the street.”
“We just want you to put pressure on them to do the right thing so we all feel safe with our kids,” Smith told the board. He family has been displaced for the foreseeable future.
“God forbid it happened five in the morning when we were asleep and not five at night when we were up and aware of what was going on. My son’s bed went up in flames. I don’t want anyone to go through that.”
Town Administrator Kevin Hay said Con Edison has communicated with him that it will replace the pole on the street where the primary goes underground and they’re going to change three older-style transformers with new ones. It is expected the project will begin in two to three weeks and take about five weeks to complete, Hay said. The finishing touches on the work would likely be sometime in July, provided there aren’t delays.
Reached on Monday, Con Edison told The Examiner that the utility is studying the infrastructure and some of the problems to come up with permanent solutions. The utility’s engineering team has been working on the issue.
“So they are aware of it, they are very much aware of what’s happening and they’re studying it and they’re looking into seeing how they can make repairs for the long term,” said Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz.
He declined to comment on whether it was Con Edison’s equipment that may have sparked the fire at the Smiths’ home.
Piper Smith, another Birch Grove Drive resident, said she and some of her neighbors were told by Con Edison personnel that the utility was having difficulty convincing town officials to open up the freshly-paved road to replace some of the equipment.
Schiliro said that wasn’t true, and given the seriousness of the situation, they would grant permission without hesitation. However, until now, the town hadn’t been asked, he said. The town had repaved Birch Grove last summer as part of its aggressive road paving program.
With what residents on the street have experienced since last summer, there is deep distrust of Con Edison, said John Boyle, another resident on the street.
“I don’t feel like I can trust anything that I hear from Con Edison,” Boyle said.
Schiliro said late last week that with comments Con Edison made to the town, there is reason for optimism moving forward. A good sign is that the new primary is going to serve each homeowner on the street.
“We’ll monitor the work until its completed, but it’s a very, very good start to helping these people on the street to get back to what we just term as normal so this is a non-issue,” Schiliro said.
Normal, however, won’t return anytime soon for Mark Smith and his family. The side of the house that was touched by the fire was heavily damaged. The other side of the house sustained water and smoke damage.
“My son’s bedroom burned to a crisp,” Smith said. “Everything’s gone around the rest of the surrounding area.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/