You may have noticed DWP trucks on Hanley and Deerbrook working on what the utility asserts are upgrades to the electrical distribution network in Crestwood Hills. The work—planned for the fire and hillside areas in our neighborhood—includes a significant increase to the height and girth of power poles as well as new aluminum power lines, conspicuous white transformers, cross arms and fuses. The new equipment towers over the old and is sure to significantly detract from the beauty of our community when implemented across all streets.

An Unexpected Opportunity

The scale of the new equipment and potential for negative impact, including safety concerns, has alarmed many members of the community and provided an opportunity to reinvigorate the debate over the value of burying the electrical and communications poles throughout Crestwood Hills. Previous attempts to bury the poles in the 1970s and in 2015–16 were abandoned due to cost concerns and a lack of majority interest. A 2016 homeowner survey showed the overwhelming majority of residents felt that the power lines were a public eyesore, but only a very small percentage were willing to invest financially in order to move the power lines underground. At the time the cost was preliminarily estimated at $3,500 per household per year for 10 years, which could be paid against property taxes.

A Push for Funds Redirection

The hope is the DWP will suspend the equipment upgrades currently underway when it receives a signed petition from the majority of homes in Crestwood Hills. By stopping the current expenditure of DWP funds, the community would then lobby to redirect those resources to an underground solution. The potential cost savings would benefit each household by reducing individual investment.

A First Step

The first step in the process is to sign the petition declaring your interest in working with the city and utilities to officially investigate the actual costs and logistics involved. Signing the petition simply indicates an interest in learning more. Residents will have a chance to vote ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ once actual costs are determined as a community vote is required by CHA bylaws to formally adapt the initiative.

As of the end of October, 102 signatures have been gathered. The Power Lines Committee must have a minimum of 175 households to be able to officially begin the process with the DWP.

Much to Gain

The natural beauty, safety, peace, tranquility and values of our historic oasis would be greatly enhanced by taking these systems underground. Download the petition, sign and send the form to Shel Brucker at shelbrucker@gmail.com.

As committee member Shel Brucker writes, “We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.” Please give the future of Crestwood Hills your consideration and sign the underground petition today.

Editor's Note: This article first ran in the Fall 2017 issue of Views that was distributed to resident mailboxes at the beginning of October. It has been updated to reflect the latest number of signatures gathered.