Councilman, Westar address large, new power-line poles in NE Wichita
Wichita City Councilman Brandon Johnson and Westar Energy representatives were in northeast Wichita Monday afternoon to respond to complaints about a series of large power poles that have gone up in one neighborhood.
Westar says the poles will help provide more electricity to areas like Wichita State University and Wesley Medical Center, but the neighbors in the area of 11th and Minnesota call them eyesores.
Westar Energy purchased 88 easements and 9 homes as the first phase of the project.
Neighbors say they're concerned about the loss of property value and improper compensation.
Westar says it's sending a letter to homeowners and renters inviting them to contact them about the possibility for additional compensation or even buying their properties.
"I'd rather not have had the pole, which I'm stuck with, and I don't know another solution because they're not going to change the route," said homeowner Isabelle Elder who now has a pole in her yard.
As it moves into the second leg of its the project, Westar says it will see where it can put in smaller power poles.
The company says it immediately plans to contact affected homeowners to talk about additional compensation,
Westar says it plans to put a new line with the poles from Mossman to the Wichita State University campus. For now, it's taking a second look at how it can make that happen with smaller poles.
"The whole thing is a headache," Elder says. "It's like I'm between a rock and hard place. Where do I go from here?"
When asked if Westar is doing enough to address concerns from her and others in the area, she says it depends on house much the company is willing to give her for having the pole in her yard.
Westar Energy is replacing old power lines with new ones in a northeast Wichita neighborhood, and they come with poles as tall as 105 feet.
If they're going in your yard, Westar says it has already spoken with you.
You can find them from 17th Street to the Mossman and Hillside area.
They're also being replaced from around 9th and Volutsia to the Wichita State University campus.
Westar says the old polls are from the 1950s and need to be replaced, but some people in the community aren't happy about how they look.
"I think it’s a disgrace I have to see this every morning when I look out my backyard, it’s right there," said Treva Smith.
They range in size, but people in the neighborhood say they're an eyesore.
A Westar representative says they're sturdier, made to withstand weather and can carry more power.
Westar says it's purchasing an easement from property owners to put them in yards.
"What it’s going to do is help support things like the innovation campus at WSU, new industry, new business," said Gina Penzig, the media relations manager with Westar.
Westar put a pole in Willis Deberry's front yard. It's considered one of the smaller versions, but he says he really had no choice in the matter.
"You can go to court and fight, but you’re not gonna win against eminent domain," said Deberry."...They came in the poor neighborhood and filed eminent domain and took them to court and forced a few dollars upon them for the right to build easement on their property, and that’s not right for anyone."
He tried to fight it, but he says he lost.
"We didn’t want the money," said Deberry. "They could have kept the money they gave us. All I want is my property back."
Westar held a meeting Thursday afternoon to address concerns. Representatives say they'll meet with people individually to resolve issues.