Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a … large dangling section of utility pole?
At least that was the view for the better part of a year in the alleyways from the 500 to 800 south blocks between Lombard and Harvey avenues, according to resident Richard Ball, who lives on the 800 block of Lombard.
Sometime last summer, Ball said, ComEd installed new utility poles in the alley behind his home, but rather than attaching AT&T and Comcast communications wires to the power lines, workers chain-sawed sections of the old poles and strung them up with the existing wires. In a few instances they used rope to attach the segments to the new poles.
Ball said he contacted Oak Park Village Hall last year and was assured that the problem would be fixed, but months later the sections of wooden poles remained.
"At the least they are unsightly, at the worst hazardous," he said in an email to Wednesday Journal.
Ball said in a telephone interview there were six "danglers" in the alley after ComEd finished its work last year, some of which were left hanging over garages and parking places along the alley.
A chunk of pole near his home hangs precariously over a gangway that runs between Ball's garage and his neighbor's, he said. "The ones that are tied up with rope are pretty comical."
Calls by Wednesday Journal to the village and the three companies resulted in a quick removal of the poles on Saturday by ComEd workers.
Prior to their removal, ComEd spokeswoman Liz Keating said in an email: "Some remnants of old utility poles remain from work last year when ComEd replaced 17 poles. Other utilities still have equipment to remove from two of these remaining poles, and ComEd is expediting a joint work agreement to complete this. These partial poles are safely secured and pose no immediate danger. The other four poles will be removed within the next 48 hours."
Department of Public Works Director John Wielebnicki said reports of utility pole chunks dangling in alleyways are not uncommon.
"We'd like to see this removed as soon as possible, but we don't control the utilities' schedules," he said, adding the village frequently is not aware that work is being done because poles located in the alleys are typically installed on private property. He encouraged residents to contact the village when they see dangling pole segments.
"Once we become aware of it, we start making some calls (to ComEd, Comcast and AT&T) to get them removed," he said. "It becomes an eyesore."
Jack Segal, a Comcast spokesman, said in a telephone interview on Friday that the company was not aware of the dangling pole segments, but they "plan to send a crew out as early as [Saturday]" to remedy the situation. He later said the pole segments in this particular situation were the responsibility of AT&T.
"We are positive that it is not us," he said.
AT&T spokesman Eric Robinson said in an email response to questions that company representatives plans to meet with members of the ComEd team to learn where it has installed new poles, so they can transfer the cables.
"In total, this work project should be completed in the next few weeks," Robinson said. "However, in the meantime, today our team members are working to identify and attach any hanging cables in these areas of the Village."
Segal said that with some 50,000 miles of network fiber coaxial cable in the Chicago region, the company frequently learns of such instances from residents. He suggested that those who notice the pole segments in their area report the issue by calling Comcast customer service at 1-800-COMCAST.
"If you see something that doesn't look right, take action," he said. "There are times when we are not aware of issues out there in the field."