MD: Fiber-optic cable work leaves lawns with scars

Posted on July 26, 2007 - 6:17am.

from: Towson Times

Fiber-optic cable work leaves lawns with scars

by Bryan P. Sears

Paula Gore isn't happy with the state of her lawn these days.

It's not pests or lack of rain. Gore is upset with the topsoil-covered patches and trenches that dot her yard and others along her cul-de-sac of 4,600-square-foot homes along Tremblant Court near St. Paul's School.

Verizon recently completed laying fiber-optic cable in Gore's neighborhood. That cable will bring cable television competition to the county through the company's FiOS service.

Given the choice between competition and the scars on the sod Gore put in last year, Gore would take the grass.

"When you're trying to get grass to grow, you don't want anyone screwing with it," Gore said.

Gore's neighborhood is on well water. She said she is careful to conserve water, choosing household appliances that use water as efficiently as possible.

Throwing grass seed on spots that were dug up requires watering that Gore considers wasteful.

The work in Gore's neighborhood is part of an installation of fiber-optic cable countywide that will ultimately bring a second cable television provider to the county that will compete with Comcast.

Verizon was granted a 15-year cable franchise in March.

The service should reach about 90 percent of county residents once Verizon completes its installation. The company has 10 years to complete its work.

Catonsville, Reisterstown, Owings Mills, Cockeysville, Towson, Parkville and Essex will receive service in the first three years of the contract.

Gore is not alone in her complaints but appears to be in the minority.

The County Council, which oversees cable television contracts in the county, has received a handful of complaints related to installation of fiber-optic cable, according to Councilman Kevin Kamenetz.

Kamenetz, a Democrat who represents the 2nd District that includes Pikesville, Owings Mills and Gore's neighborhood, negotiates cable franchise agreements on behalf of the council.

All of the complaints have been resolved, he said.

Kamenetz said the company is permitted to do work along county rights of way, which extend into people's yards.

Verizon "should restore it to the condition they found it," Kamenetz said.

The councilman said similar work was done in his Ruxton neighborhood. He said he noticed a 2-by-4-foot patch where grass had been dug up "but the grass came back."

Sandra Arnette, a spokeswoman for Verizon, said the company "doesn't downplay any complaints" the company gets and works to make things right.

She said the company is working within the county rights of way on Tremblant Court -- something she said the county confirmed for them last week.

Crews covered the area that was dug up with a soil compound that retains even the small amounts of rain that the area has been getting recently. She added that residents might want to supplement that rain -- something she said Gore did not want to do.

"She wants us to water, and we're not required to do that," Arnette said.

"We're trying to make things right, but we just don't water grass," she said.

( categories: MARYLAND | Verizon )