POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) is pledging to help a Pound Ridge couple who claim that stray voltage from a nearby New York State Electric & Gas substation and power lines has made their home a dangerous place to live and have filed a $2.3 million lawsuit against the utility company.
Ball held a press conference Monday morning at the Salem Road home of Harold and Millie Mendelson and said he will work to get NYSEG to remedy the problem.
“To think we have a family that needs to take showers with rubber-soled shoes is atrocious,” Ball said. “I want a plan put into place immediately to help protect these people.”
The Mendelsons say the problem began nearly 25 years ago and has impacted their health, as well as the health of their pets. They say they were forced to get rid of their horses and their dog chewed its legs incessantly until it had to be put down. They said they can no longer use their pool and they often receive shocks if they attempt to use their faucets without first donning rubber gloves.
“It’s causing a great deal of stress, and I’m under a neurologist’s care,” said Millie Mendelson. “But NYSEG has consistently denied there is a problem. They say we are making it all up.”
Several years ago, NYSEG installed two voltage blockers on the poles adjacent to the Mendelson property that are designed to sound an alarm if the voltage exceeds 30 volts. When any voltage gets through the blockers the alarm is suppose to warn the Mendelsons to get away from any running water. The Mendelsons said the alarms were going off so frequently – sometimes as much as 30 times a day – that NYSEG turned them off in March.
NYSEG officials have said they won’t comment on cases involving pending litigation.
Millie Mendelson said that after their plight was publicized last month, more neighbors have come forward to say that they’ve experienced odd occurrences as well.
“My daughter has migraines and my son gets palsy, where the skin on his face will droop,” said Joanne Walsh, who lives two miles down the road from the Mendelsons and attended Monday’s press conference. She notes that their two properties are similar in that they both have ponds and are close to utility poles.
Walsh also said she has received unusual bills from NYSEG.
“For 25 years they’ve averaged about $325 a month, with one as high as $600,” she said. “Then for a while, they were zero. Our most recent one is about $58. I’ve tried to get them to explain that to me, but now they’re calling me a ‘hostile customer.’ ”
Ball said, “Thank God this is just a small group of people, but that should not change the response [from NYSEG], and the alarms should be turned back on immediately.”
The Mendelsons’ lawsuit seeks to compel NYSEG to buy their six-acre property and 18th-century home so they can move. They had already sought to purchase a temporary house in South Salem, but the deal recently fell through, thanks in part to the publicity the lawsuit has garnered, which Millie Mendelson said gave the sellers the impression they had “deep pockets.”
“We have to start the house hunting all over again,” she said.
Ball said he was concerned for the Mendelsons’ health and will ask NYSEG for a stray-voltage report of any incidents reported in New York state.
The Mendelsons said that they have asked the Pound Ridge Town Board to get involved but that local officials have been reluctant to step in.