Verizon tiptoes in Manhattan Beach

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Verizon may have set off a firestorm of controversy in Marine Park last year when it started sticking 45-foot tall poles in front of people’s homes, but the chair of Community Board 15 says the same thing is not going to happen in Manhattan Beach.

Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo and members of both the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG) and Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association (MBNA) met with Verizon officials last week to hammer out Verizon’s plans to bring FiOS high-speed internet and cable TV service to the neighborhood.

According to Scavo, Verizon officials appear to have learned a lot from their experiences in Marine Park and are doing everything they can to avoid the same kind of trouble here in Manhattan Beach.

“Marine Park really frightened them,” Scavo told the Bay News. “They seem to be very community-minded.”

As recently as last month, Verizon officials were tangling with upset Marine Park homeowners who were still refusing to allow technicians access to their backyards for the installation of new poles carrying FiOS cables.

“They had a lot of problems with Marine Park and I told them you’re not going to start sticking poles in the ground without talking to the community first,” Scavo said.

According to the CB 15 chair, Verizon wants to start selling FiOS internet and cable TV service to Manhattan Beach subscribers by the end of the summer and start installation in the fall.

To do that, however, Verizon will need to access some backyards in Manhattan Beach in order to install the new poles.

“If a pole is rotten, it’s going to be replaced,” Scavo said. “They’re trying to stay away from the front of homes.”

A number of existing poles along Oriental Boulevard might be used to carry the FiOS cables. Verizon officials said that others placed in backyards would be installed in the corner and rear of each property.

The community is expected to meet with Verizon officials again next month to figure out exactly where new poles and junction boxes are being proposed.

“They’re going to come back with all the plans and we’ll go through each block,” Scavo said.

The chairperson said that Verizon officials made it “crystal clear” that the problems in Marine Park would not be repeated in Manhattan Beach.

“Everyone is on board,” she said. “It was quite pleasant.”

This was the first time that members of the MBCG and MBNA have sat down together and worked collaboratively on an issue since the new group formed earlier this year.

Members have continually sniped at each other since January.

But MBNA member Edmund Dweck called last week’s meeting at CB 15’s board office very “amicable.”

“We all asked questions,” he said. “We didn’t speak directly to one another, but we did respect everyone’s opinions.”

Updated 3:48 pm, October 19, 2011
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