Town of Palm Beach NewsTown of Palm Beach Politics

Underground Palm Beach Utility Lines

Among other important issues on the Town of Palm Beach’s March 15th ballot will be the Underground Utility Referendum, which is the referendum concerning the ability to Underground Palm Beach Utility Lines. This particular subject, however, is proving to be one of the most talked about ballot issues by Town of Palm Beach officials and Town residents alike.

Town of Palm Beach Town Manager, Tom Bradford told us that the proposal for underground utilities was presented back in 2004 as a response to hurricane damage to electric wires and poles in the Town of Palm Beach. The hurricane damage left some residents without power for up to three weeks. A Citizens Undergrounding Task Force was created shortly after the hurricanes as a way for residents to voice their concerns and recommendations to the Town Council.

Underground Palm Beach Utility Lines

The Underground Utility Referendum calls for all overhead utility lines to be buried. The town-wide elimination of the above ground utility wires and poles will make the town’s electricity safer and more reliable as well as more aesthetically pleasing. The referendum will benefit all town residents and properties from the north end to the south end of the island. However, it comes at a hefty price. The project will cost residents about $90 million to complete.

Residents are not the only ones who are spending money on this issue, though. The Town Manager told us that because town officials believe residents should be properly informed before voting on an issue of this magnitude, they decided to hire Cornerstone Solutions who are known to be one of the premier ballot initiative firms in Florida, to educate Palm Beach Islanders on the referendum.

Bradford also stated, “Now is the time to act because by doing so we avoid bigger, taller “hardened” poles being installed by FPL throughout Town and we get 25% discount.” The designing and construction process will take about 10 years total. As an added bonus, after the project is complete residents will not be responsible for maintenance and repairs.

It will be up to town residents to vote for or against the Town-wide Underground Utility Referendum in March. We have received positive and negative messages with regards to the undergrounding project. Many residents, who wish to remain anonymous seem to wonder how the utility company and Town will decide which properties the transformers will be located on, and how the wires will be fixed if natural occurrences below ground cause damage. It would require a substantial amount of digging to reach the broken wires. As with all issues, many will be for and many will be against, but the one thing many residents will agree on, is not having power seems silly in this day and age.

You can learn more about the Underground Palm Beach Utility Lines project by visiting the Undergrounding Referendum Website.
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